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.
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:
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:
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 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 livinglargewellness.com.