Why I NEVER Count Calories For My Cheat Meal

It feels great to enjoy that meal with reckless abandon.

Photo by Luke Pennystan on Unsplash

“Everyone should have cheat days or days off. You need to balance the unhealthy with the healthy.”

Robbie Amell

EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I now consume way fewer calories after the pandemic than before it.

I discussed how by being able to now eat most of my meals at home instead of eating out all the time, I found that I could consume fewer calories and still fill as full as I did when I consumed twice or three times as much.

This had led to a complete change in my lifestyle and the way I go about structuring my days and meals.

This, of course, led to a few people wanting to immediately point out how low 800–1200 daily calories were and share with me their belief that this wasn’t sustainable.

Fair enough, as a diet of 800–1200 calories, every day without any break at all would be a tad bit low if you lead a life that involves any type of moderate physical activity.

With that being said, I should’ve shared in that article that this daily caloric intake did not take into account my two cheat meals during the week.

Yes, that’s correct.

I actually have TWO cheat meals during the week. One is a higher calorie cheat meal in which I still eat pretty healthy but just increase my carbohydrate intake and the volume of calories for that meal.

It provides a number of benefits that I shared a few weeks ago.

The second is my weekend cheat meal that I attack with a ferocity that might be equal to the king of cheat meals himself, DeWayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Before I ate so clean during the week, I didn’t really think about cheat meals because I figured that I was eating pretty healthy during the week and would just continue to do so on the weekend.

Because I was consuming so many calories during each meal previously, when the weekend came, I didn’t have much of a desire to eat something that fell outside of that regimen because I was pretty much eating whatever I wanted anyway.

Now that I keep my calories to a daily range of 800–1200 and am much more stringent on what I consume, by the time my cheat meal comes around on Saturday, I am starving to enjoy food without worrying too much about the volume of it.

I attack this meal with caution to the wind for a number of reasons.

I’ve earned it.

To me, cheat meals are similar to vacations. If you lived in Cabo and only relaxed on the beach and drank sugary drinks all day, then that wouldn’t feel like a true vacation at all.

The value and relaxation that I often deem are associated with vacations come from knowing that I earned it over the time period from which I took the last one. For me, that is often anywhere from 1–3 months, as I truly believe in “mini-vacations” to enjoy life.

I take this same concept with my weekend cheat meal in that the focus and discipline that I’ve put into the week has earned me the right to have that one meal on the weekend in which I just don’t count calories at all.

By allowing myself to eat my chosen cheat meal of choice without counting calories and being extra worried about the volume I’m consuming, I’m rewarding myself for being so disciplined and making sure I have something to look forward to at the end of the week.

This meal that I know is coming on Saturday is enough to keep me focused and disciplined when I might have a day when I’m a bit hungrier than usual and find myself wanting to feed my sweet tooth or fat desire.

Knowing that this meal is coming on the weekend, and I don’t have to count calories at is similar to how I am able to work hard during the week and put my head down to focus on doing what it takes to succeed, knowing I have a vacation coming around the corner in which I can completely relax.

It allows me to mentally take a break from being extra disciplined

As I wrote in my previous article about why you should count calories on ALMOST every meal, your cheat meal is the one exception because it can be exhausting to have to think about everything you eat every second of the day.

By taking a break from mentally having to think about this all the time, you give yourself the much-needed reprieve to just enjoy food without too much pressure.

Food is one of the pleasures of life and should be enjoyed as much as possible.

However, the deadly truth is that if you are someone who enjoys food too much and refuses to govern yourself in any way, you could put yourself in danger of being one of the 678,000 people who eventually lose their lives each year because of a disease related to diet.

Similar to how you should often have rest days in between working out and how it could actually be beneficial to your long term development and growth to take off an entire week at a time from working out, giving yourself that one day break of not having to worry about calorie-counting can prevent you from burning out and crashing all together because the diet is so mentally taxing.

It allows me to rededicate myself back to my daily caloric intake

The last reason is similar to the previous in that after a cheat meal of eating pretty much however much I want, I am so unbelievably full versus how I usually feel that I almost can’t wait to get back to my normal regimen the next morning.

My usual weekly cheat meal is Saturday for dinner and that puts a stamp on a week that really allows me to feel good about having a great week overall.

When this meal is finished and I’m so full that my body is screaming what is going on since it usually never receives this much food, mentally I am ready to get back to smaller portions to feel so much lighter and better overall.

While eating a lot of food feels good at that moment, what I’ve also recognized is that I feel so much better overall when I consume fewer calories.

This relates to my overall physical feeling of lightness as I work out, as well as greater mental clarity and agility in my thinking. (I’m pretty sure the clearer mental thinking is related to reduced sugar consumption as well.)

Wanting immediately to get back to this feeling of homeostasis in mind and body, I am excited for my Sunday morning workout to know that I’m back to burning calories again and keeping my body as lean and trim as possible.

This desire allows me to reset my weekly commitment to my daily focus to maintain my standards and not deviate from the goals that I’ve set for myself.

And while some days may seem easier than others, I am able to do it because I know I have the weekend to truly let my hair down and go HAM on my cheat meal of choice…usually pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes.