How I Balance My Splurges on the Weekend

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hi, guys! Happy Hump Day!

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for awhile now, and, with the long Columbus Day weekend just around the corner, I figured it was the perfect time. Plus, it’s a common question that I receive from my nutrition clients. Staying on track on the weekends is tough, especially when there’s so much delicious food around you and the atmosphere is festive and fun. I mean, how can you turn down a piece of cake at a birthday party or a cocktail at happy hour when those are some of the best parts of the celebration?!

It’s hard to stick with your usual healthy habits if you feel like you’re missing out on the fun, so I splurge (within reason) and enjoy every second of it. If I’m too restrictive, it makes me sad (obviously), and I usually find it harder to get back on track come Monday morning. It’s almost like I get the cravings out of my system if I eat what I want. It’s definitely a balancing act and some weekends are more of a splurge than others, but I always get myself back on track (typically on Sunday, but definitely by Monday morning)!

With that said, I received an email from a reader just recently inquiring about balance and she asked all the right questions to guide my post, so here’s how I find balance with my splurges on the weekend! Please note: Many of the tips below apply to weekday splurges, too. Mal and I are big on Thursday happy hours, where we’ll grab drinks and apps at one of our favorite bars. If we go out on Thursday, I’ll rein it in on Friday to balance it out. It just depends on how my social life falls that week! 🙂

Hi Tina!

I hope you are doing well! I don’t know if you accept blog topic suggestions, but I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and one thing I have always admired about you is that you really do seem to have a handle on the whole “balance” thing (i.e. having your carrots and your cake too). I see the foods you post and while they of course include healthy meals, lots of veggies and protein, etc., I also see you eat donuts, pizza, pasta, cereal, desserts, ice cream, etc.

I eat very healthy all week long – I meal prep and pack all of my meals and snacks every day to make sure I stay on track – but I also love to eat out and LOVE sweets and dessert, so I find that when I am around those things on the weekends I go overboard. Or even if I don’t go overboard, I feel intense guilt about the “bad” thing I ate. I started doing Advocare’s “clean eating challenges” about 2 years ago, and additionally recently lost about 10 pounds for my wedding by following a pretty restrictive eating plan for 4 months. I went down two sizes (which is too skinny for me) and now that I am beginning to eat regularly again, I am gaining weight and moving back up to my old size. That is actually a very normal and “balanced” thing, but instead I am feeling bad about myself for gaining weight and finding myself trying to eat “restrictively” again. I would love to reset my thinking and learn how to incorporate ALL foods into my diet, and get rid of the guilt when I have a food that isn’t great for me.

With all of that said, I wonder if you would be open to writing a blog post about how you personally find balance in the things you eat. For instance, if you go out for a donut with your family, are you eating the entire thing or are you splitting it? If you go to a bbq, are you going in with a plan of how much you are going to eat or which things you are going to eat, so that you can enjoy a little of everything?  If you go out for pizza are you only having one slice, or several? I think it would be helpful for your readers seeking this kind of balance to have insight into how you do it, because you look fantastic but also really seem to enjoy yourself!

Also, if my name looks familiar, it is because I was just emailing with you recently about Beautycounter. 🙂 Thank you for all of your help!

It’s all about “pacing” yourself

“You can have it all, but not all at once.” I love these wise words from Bethenny Frankel and do my bed to live by them. On Saturdays, for instance, when we go out for donuts after CrossFit, I usually share a donut with Mal and Quinn. Sometimes, we’ll get two donunts to share, but it really just depends on how we ate the night before and what our plans are for the rest of the weekend. (We also don’t want to give Qman too much junk!) If we ordered Thai takeover for dinner on Friday or have plans to dine out later that night, a bite or two of donut is totally fine with me. It’s not like I can never have an entire donut; I’m just pacing myself throughout the weekend. Plus, I almost always order a flavored iced coffee, so that satisfies my sweet tooth for a fraction of the calories.

I choose my calories and splurges wisely

When I go to a party or BBQ, where there’s lots of delicious food to choose from, I pick my calories wisely. Again, I can have whatever I want, just not all at once. Instead of wasting my calories on the same-old, same-old, like cheese and crackers or chips and salsa, I save them for my favorite foods. I know I’ll enjoy them the most, and they’ll be the hardest for me to pass up, so when the Buffalo Chicken Dip, bacon-wrapped scallops, or birthday cake are served, I go for it! I want to make sure my splurges are worth it, so choose my calories wisely. Plus, having splurges to look forward to on the weekend helps me make better choices during the week. I’m less likely to go overboard on junk if I know I have a fun food weekend coming up (aka my “Cookie Friday” mentality from years ago)!

I eat normally for the most part

It might sound a little counter-intuitive to eat normally before a party or dinner out on the weekend, but sticking to my usual meal schedule helps me make smarter decisions when it comes to what I eat and drink in a more festive setting. During mealtime, I make sure sure to choose foods that are healthy and satisfying – plenty of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and carbs. It’s tough to resist super delicious food when you’re hungry or experiencing crazy cravings, so I fill up on the good stuff first. Plus, being on point during the day with my diet motivates me to not go off the rails when it’s time for the fun stuff. (In the case that I go out for brunch in the morning, I just make sure that the rest of my day in super healthy.!)


Honestly, I was sick for such a long time and worried about every single bite that went into my mouth, now when it comes to splurges on the weekend, I’m, like, YOLO! I used to obsess about which foods would wreak havoc on my gut and immune system, so my diet was a constant source of stress in my life. Ughhhh, it was a miserable time. I missed out on so much! Fast-forward to remission, feeling better (*knock on wood*) and finally being able to eat without worry, I’m able to truly enjoy my food. I know what it feels like to stress and miss out on my favorite foods, so now I’m all about eating, drinking, and being merry. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself every once in awhile.

Use Sunday to get back on track

If I lived it up on Friday and Saturday with my food choices, I use Sunday as the day to get myself back on track. I always meal plan, grocery shop, and food prep and typically go on an active, outdoor adventure with my family. I also plan my workouts for the week by scheduling them into my calendar like appointments that I can’t miss. Getting myself organized on Sunday sets me up for a healthy week ahead and doesn’t make me think twice about the splurges I enjoyed!

Question of the Day

What are your tips and tricks for staying on track on weekends?




  1. I love love love this post! I can’t agree more with the points you made, especially the second one. I used to choose all splurges on the weekends because I thought I “could” and it was my only time… Even if I didn’t want the stupid thing! I’m careful now to stay in tune with what I want and only choose the splurges that I will genuinely enjoy!

  2. Weekends used to be super difficult for me. I’d find myself barely eating throughout the day so I could save A TON of room for splurges. Now I do a much better job of making sure I eat a real breakfast and lunch, or at least hearty snacks, so that I hit my protein and am not hangry all day. If I have a donut for breakfast, I make sure to balance that with some sort of lean protein (weird, I know, but I’ll eat some chicken breast when I get home). And I try to drink tons of water!

  3. “You can have it all, but not all at once,” is my favorite motto as well. Sure, sometimes I do, but it’s rare. And that works! Enjoy a bite or two and move on. If there’s something you love more than anything, then go for it. But always drop the guilt!

  4. I really need all the tips I can get — my only “go to” tip for the weekends is staying busy. If I’m active and out of the house, I’m not as focused on eating!

  5. Thanks for your tips! I love “you can have it all, but not all at once”. I have always found that if I restrict myself during the week, I tend to really go overboard on the weekend. Allowing myself a little treat everyday is so helpful to keep everything balanced.
    Enjoy your day!

  6. Do you think you will ever try to manage your symptoms with diet again? I have RA and am having some success with a biologic (FINALLY) after failing 6 of them. I tried an elimination diet a few years ago and did not see major improvement, so I don’t think it’s a complete cure, but diet has to be part of the puzzle.

    Do you see a link between your health and all the processed foods you eat? I 100% agree that it is so much easier to go with the Trader Joe ready meals, but could they be contributing to how you feel…it’s all so tricky to navigate!

    1. When I was sick, I tried every diet under the sun with zero improvement. I actually think my symptoms got worse at times. Here’s a blog post that goes into detail about everything I tried before biologics. I’m glad to hear that you found one that’s working for you!

      Since I did the LEAP protocol and found success with seed cycling, I’m paying a lot more attention to my food choices. I don’t think I’ll ever go off Entyvio because I’m scared of being that sick again, and I’m pretty sure Mal would murder me if I did. Haha! But, seriously, he saw me suffer so much during that time, and I’m not sure if he could handle it again.

      I actually don’t think I eat all that much processed food. Sure, I like Perfect Food Bars and Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, but they’re not filled with a ton of crap, and I’m only eating them a couple of times per week. Can you give some examples of the Trader Joe “ready meals”? Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean.

      1. @Tina:

        Agreed, biologics forever! And maybe RA is very different from UC, but I would do ANYTHING to keep my inflammation at bay and I find that what I eat can help or worsen my symptoms. It’s great you can eat how you like and not worry about how you will feel…that is awesome!

        1. What about giving the LEAP diet a try? It made a huge improvement in my health. My inflammations levels are the lowest they’ve been in years – even after I started Remicade and Entyvio.

  7. I love this post! I’m currently using training for my first marathon as an excuse to eat whatever (and worse, however MUCH) I want (yeah, it’s not working out so hot for me :), and am totally going to use these tips to help me get back on track!

  8. Right now I am working with a nutrition coach on carb cycling. Luckily for me, Saturdays are high carb days and Sundays are low carb days. And for me to not feel overwhelmed with carb cycling (it’s still new enough where I have to think and plan), I plan my eating at the start of each day through My Fitness Pal. I ask myself what I am craving, and I plan the rest of my day around THAT meal that I really want. I know, when it comes to weekends when there are chances for parties, cook outs, date night, ETC that there are some things i always like–the cheese platter at one friend’s house is ALWAYS bomb, or if we’re planning to go to one of a handful of restaurants I know i will NOT be able to pass up onion rings/french fries/the bun that comes with the burger. Sometimes it’s convenient and easy to plan weekend events, because sometimes they fall on the RIGHT day for carbs/fat ratio. Other times, I have to *really* plan around it–like the night we went for pizza and I knew I’d also get a glass of wine, I had to save up my carbs. It meant zucchini and salmon, or egg whites scrambled and mixed with spinach and mushrooms instead of other things i like.

    So: I choose my splurge depending on where I am in carb cycling, and I ask myself–what’s the ONE meal I want to build my day around? I plug my entire day of eating into My Fitness Pal–meals, snacks, everything–so it’s a done deal.

    And if there happens to be cake at That Thing That We’re Going To that looks like it really would be a missed opportunity if I said no? Then I give myself the “two (or three) bite rule. It allows me to stay within let’s say around 10-ish grams of the day’s target (a safe range for me to not be in hormonal imbalance and for me to still be stoking the fire of my metabolism), and I don’t feel like I am missing out on something my instinct tells me I might regret.

  9. Love this post so much! I do the same with getting back on track on Sunday, family time, grocery shopping & meal planning! 🙂

  10. For me, I find that starting my day with a tough, sweaty workout is both the best way to bounce back after a splurge AND the best way to start off a day when I plan to splurge, as knowing I’ve already kicked my butt that day takes away the guilt. Great post!

  11. So one thing I struggle with, and I’m sure you can relate as you have expressed how much you hate wasting food, is I will be eating and start to fill full but end up finishing my plate so as not to waste the food. I realize I could just stop and pack up the rest but often times it’s maybe a 1/4 of the plate remaining and I feel that if it goes into the fridge I will never end up eating it. For example last night I had a salad w/ chicken and sweet potatoes and had dressed it. I started feeling full about 3/4 in but finished all as not to waste it. I know I’m not really listening to my body and then I’ll end up overeating/ feeling too full. But I also can’t stand the idea of throwing the food out! Advice…..?

    1. This is such a great question – I actually might write a blog post related to food waste and intuitive eating in the future. My best advice is to serve yourself less to begin with – knowing you can always go back for a second portion. That way, you can feel out your hunger and get more food if you’re not satisfied. I also save tiny portions for snacking, like a small piece of chicken or a 1/2 serving of veggies, or incorporate random foods into a salad, stir-fry, soup, etc. No food goes to waste in our house! 🙂

  12. Great post! Love the section “I eat normally for the most part”. I find if I make it a point to stick to some sort of eating schedule during the weekend, I try to eat some sort of protein before I head out in the evenings so I don’t feel the need to splurge on everything in front of me.

    If I know I’m going to have a day of bad eating and drinking, I eat a healthy, high protein breakfast and add some greens in there. It sets the tone for the day and makes me think about my choices.

  13. Love this post, Tina – thanks for sharing! I’d love to know how your post-summer slim down is going! Can you share what changes you’ve made and results you’ve seen since starting? Thanks!

    1. I only made it a little over a week on the PSSD. It just got too hard when to stick to the plan when we were in San Francisco last week. BUT starting the plan made me MUCH more aware of how much sugar I was eating, and I finally broke through a scale and body fat % plateau this week, so I guessed it worked! 🙂

  14. These tips are spot-on and what I follow too. It’s become almost intuitive, which I’m thankful for, but it took WORK. I like to give myself flexibility and room in my diet to eat whatever I want, but I keep it “within reason” for my standards. Everyone is different. Tonight, I plan to eat BBQ chicken pizza and have a beer. Tomorrow, I’ll be at a football game, so I know I’ll have another beer. Sunday I’ll be back home and in my space and meal prepping. Right back on track! Also, hell yeah to YOLO.

  15. I love this post! I literally just wrote something similar on how I want readers and followers to use the hashtag #sweetandstrong when posting sweet or indulgent treats. I workout, eat fruits, veggies, healthy carbs, and protein most of the time, but every week I give into my sweet tooth or pizza cravings. My tips for balance on the weekends is choose one or two meals where you might indulge a bit more, but eat regular for all the other meals. And find some way to move a little and stay hydrated!

  16. This is literally my life. I just did a post on macros. I’ve never been a fan of IIFIYM – clean, unprocessed foods are always preferable. However, macros (or the theory behind a macro-based diet) make it SO much easier to have a fun day/dinner/doughnut. It’s all about balance!

  17. Thanks so much for this post! This is a particular struggle for me right now because I can’t run due to injury. With limited exercise, I feel like I need to be even more aware of what I’m eating than usual.

    I’ve tried to follow something similar (only splurging on “special occasions” – dinner or brunch with friends, birthdays, holidays, etc.), but I’ve discovered it’s so easy to always come up with a reason or justification for a splurge. I need to try to get back on track and really limit those splurges, and I like the idea of looking at the whole weekend to determine how much to splurge during each part of the weekend.

    It’s also tough when things get super busy! Even with meal planning, if I don’t get home till late the last thing I want to do is cook, even if it’s already planned! I need to look at more crock pot or pre-prepared meals that I can make on Sundays and just heat up on the day it’s scheduled for. Would love your suggestions for meals for busy/late nights!

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