You can stop counting calories if you eat a balanced diet. My understanding of diet has shifted fundamentally over the past few years, and our entire culture is catching on fast that a balanced diet is different from what we thought a balanced diet was twenty years ago.
Our official food pyramid is changing in real time, and has not yet caught on to the newest research, revelations, and understandings of the deeply intertwined relationship between what we eat and our health. For fifty years the food industry sent us looking at lack of exercise, fat, cholesterol and those bad eggs, as the culprits of our dreaded civilization diseases. But lo and behold, it's the carbs that send our system for a loop - it's them. They are inflammatory, cause blood sugar ups and downs, food cravings, mood and hormonal swings, short-term energy bursts with predictable lows soon after, and the dreaded weight gain or inability to lose it. They've only been in our diet for about ten thousand years ago, when our society turned agrarian, and thus our systems are not well adapted to them. Most of all, carbs are addictive. That's why it's so difficult to stop after one slice of pizza, one slice of crusty country bread with butter, or one cookie.
Hi in carbs means also high in calories - cut out the carbs, stop calorie counting. A low carb diet excludes sugar, and all grain products like bread, waffles and pancakes, pasta, grain flour, couscous and such, as well as starches like rice, corn, and potatoes - at least most of them, most of the time - sigh, if you must. It includes lots more vegetables and fats than what you may be used to. Since switching to a low carb diet I naturally, and completely without effort, calorie counting or other shenanigans, went back to my pre-kids weight. I eat the French Paradox and don't put on an ounce of fat.
Switching to a low carb diet requires a big mental shift for sure, but you can do it gradually, especially if you are not a natural in the kitchen and rely on ready-made items. You might replace one carby pantry item a week, or, if you are more adventurous, you can empty your pantry of carby items cold turkey - then the pasta won't be lurking on the shelf, beckoning for an excuse. A low carb diet with enough good fats also stops food cravings! Hence you can eat until you're satisfied - no calorie counting, no guilt. I managed to avoid a whole Christmas dessert buffet, other than the strawberries, without too many regrets, because I was already satisfied and didn't crave the sugars in front of me.
Many of us are forced to make this shift for health reasons. Besides, who wants to be on meds for the rest of their life?