10 Ways to Not Count Calories but Make the Calories Count

Posted on August 9th, 2018

You may have seen me on the news not too long ago talking about why counting calories is not a sustainable lifestyle change for health and weight management. When I work with clients I prefer to take the focus off the calories of each food and look more at the nutritional density of that food instead. Sometimes we can get so bombarded with what nutrition tips to follow or believe so I am going to give you a quick list of ways you can help boost your meals and nutrition.

Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetable and round the rest of the plate out with lean protein, dairy, and whole grains. This is a method all of the Reasor’s Registered Dietitians teach during their classes. This is an easy way to make sure you are getting the right amount of each type of food. We teach a balanced approach to healthy living.

Honor your hunger and fullness cues. Our bodies are our own compass to when we need to eat and just how much we really need to fuel ourselves. It can take some time to be able to hear those cues again….but we recommend using a little insight before chowing down to savor each bite, free yourself from distractions that can lead to overeating, and checking in about half way through your meal to see how full, hungry, and satisfied you are feeling.

Make snack time count. Snacks are basically fuel for your body between those large meals during the day. Fueling with empty calories will typically leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry well before your next meal. Try matching a carbohydrate with a protein or fat to increase your satiety. Some of my favorites to recommend to clients are bananas with peanut butter, apples with cheese, nuts with dried fruit, or a greek yogurt with fruit or granola.

Look for naturally lean or lean cuts of proteins. Seafood can be an incredibly healthy option, especially when we choose to bake, broil, or grill those fillets. Try salmon or trout for a heart healthy boost to your seafood. Skinless poultry can also be a great option for eating lean. For pork and beef look for cuts ending with –loin and –round more often. Leaner cuts of pork and beef typically require a little longer cooking time (at a lower temperature) or marinating before cooking to help keep your cuts tender.


Boost up your breakfast. You have heard it before….breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but are you truly harnessing this meal to get the most nutritional bang for your buck? Try throwing in a milled flaxseed (found in our baking aisle) to smoothies or oatmeal. Try adding more veggies to breakfast (besides potatoes) with blending in spinach or carrots into smoothies, cooking in your favorite veggies into scrambled eggs, or topping toast with avocado and tomato!

Cook at home a little more often. Not only can cooking at home help save your waistline it can actually help you save a little money as well! The best part of cooking at home is that you can full control of what you put into your meals. Start with a small selection of recipes you feel confident preparing and slowly broaden your horizons.

Get a rainbow every day. This is a concept we teach to even the smallest of nutrition leaners. While this concept seems too easy it is still very important. Variety is key to capturing all those various nutrients are bodies need. Branch out and try a new produce item, if there are some veggies you have had before but they weren’t your favorite try incorporating them into a dish or preparing them in a new way, and don’t feel like you have to rely on fresh produce alone (fresh and canned are also excellent options).


Blend more veggies into your meals. One of my favorites (and you have probably already heard me talk about it several times before) is the mushroom blend. The concept comes from the Mushroom Council and all you have to do is take a package of mushrooms and finely dice them to the consistency of your ground meat, cook them briefly on the stove or in the oven, and then blend them into your ground meat. This is a great way to cut some calories and fat and get that veggie boost! You can also try blending vegetable juices and purees into soups and adding beans to chili and tacos.

Watch the portion size. I don’t mean literally portion out all of your food because that gets back into calorie counting (which we know really isn’t sustainable). If you are eating out and your food comes on a platter not a plate, ask your waiter(ess) to box half of your meal before you dig in or split the meal with a friend. At home try using smaller plates as we tend to feel like we need to clean our entire plate, even if we are already full or smaller utensils that require us to slow down and take more bites.

Try Meatless Monday. Going meatless once a week with a high protein vegetarian dish has been shown to help with the management and prevention of some chronic diseases. Plant based eating is become more and more popular making it even easier to find a nice selection of recipes. Just avoid subbing out that meat dish for a dish with a lot of refined carbohydrates and no protein.

Heather Steele, RD/LD is a Registered Dietitian and loves to garden, cook, and ride her bike! Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and also covers the 101st & Elm location for all of your food & nutrition needs.


Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.