Cheat Days Can’t Exist

By Krista Large – June 27, 2022

Cheat days can’t exist. That’s how we shoot ourselves in the foot. Instead of the word “cheat,” we can use “indulgent,” which better explains a realistic experience for nutrition. While cheat meals can’t exist, indulgent meals can and are part of what makes life enjoyable.

The math is pretty simple. Following your nutrition plan for seven days per week is following it 100%. If we spend one day cheating, that means we are eating well six out of seven days, so we get a score of about 86% or a B. If we spend two days cheating, we get about 71% or a C-. If we overindulge Friday, Saturday and Sunday, that’s three full days, and we get about 57%, which is an F.

Now let’s break it down by meals. Let’s imagine you are eating three meals a day — that’s 21 meals in a week. All meals are healthy and support your goals throughout the week, except for what’s “worth it” to you. These are foods and life moments that matter to you and can include birthday cake, ice cream with your kids, wedding cake, family reunion meals, date nights, Thanksgiving meals, Easter brunch, other holidays, piña colada on the beach, macaroons in Paris, shaved ice in Hawaii, Grandma’s cookies and the list goes on. The best part, though, is you get to decide because you are the one experiencing life in your body.

Now, let’s return to the math of cheat days versus cheat meals and imagine that out of the 21 meals per week, one or two meals per week are indulgent. Having two out of 21 healthy meals gives you a score of 95%, which is fantastic. It’s an A!

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Living like a robot is not fun. But it is also essential to look at the bigger picture here and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. Indulgent meals are great and make having the ability to taste incredible, but an entire day can bring down the score and forfeit the results you’re after.

Eating with friends.

Take action and write this down now — what is “worth it” to you? Make a list of these items, and it will give you a better idea of how you can personalize your diet so you don’t have to miss out on this part of the human experience. 

For me, some of these foods include:

  • Champagne — One glass at a celebration. Any more than that, let’s just say… it’s going to be a wild night and a crappy hangover.
  • Macarons in Paris — I will not buy these from my local grocer, but if I travel to Paris (which isn’t often), this will be a highlight. The pleasure I would get from eating this would linger in my body for years until the next trip. I would get FOMO (fear of missing out) if I didn’t have it. 
  • Waffles on the weekends — I look forward to the ritual of making waffles. Sleeping in and having an indulgent waffle reminds me to relax, have fun and be creative.
  • Desserts at a restaurant — If I am on a date, a chef is making dessert and it costs $20. That is very different than me making an entire thing of brownies or a pack of cookies I could buy from the store. 

So what is worth it to you? If you have body goals and want to live an overall healthy life, then a way you can look at the other 5 to 10% of your intake can be incorporated into these four pillars:

  1. Eat foods you like (life is short — if you don’t like celery, don’t eat celery) 
  2. Eat foods that digest well (no bloating, no fatigue, no tums after, no unbuttoning your pants)
  3. Eat foods that support your goals (this is always the first question you must get clear on before deciding or seeking advice on what to eat) 
  4. Eat foods you can have moderately and sanely (not foods you will overindulge on, eat a whole bag of, feel guilty after eating)

I hope this simple framework and unconventional view of nutrition and math will help you make decisions to feel confident when it comes to your diet and how you want to eat, feel and live.


About the Author

Krista Large smillng.

Krista Large is a nutritionist, habit coach and online fitness trainer. Her passion in life is teaching others to dream big and live large, which starts with health. Large is an Ole Miss Rebel and runs her own brand and business based here in Austin. You can learn more about her at


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