After sticking to your diet all week and eating under your calorie limit, there’s nothing wrong with taking a cheat day. In fact, cheat days keep you sane and make it much easier to stick to your diet. But, going overboard on a cheat day could easily erase some of the progress you’ve made during the week.

Even on your off days, you want to be mindful of what you eat so that you don’t see a huge uptick on the scale. The good news is that there’s plenty of delicious food that you can splurge on without having to worry about gaining weight.

Here are some things you can eat on cheat days that won’t set you back.

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are much more than a game-day food. Meet your new favorite cheat day meal! Chicken wings offer tons of protein and healthy fats. Lighten up this finger-licking meal by baking your wings instead of frying them. Swap out the French fries and instead eat your wings with slices of carrot and celery.

You can lighten up chicken wings even more by swapping the traditional ranch or blue cheese dressing for a healthier option. Yogurt-based dressings are much lower and calories and even offer a little protein!

You can also choose to go sauce-less and instead season your wings. Lemon pepper, hot sauce, teriyaki sauce, and Old Bay seasoning make for tasty wings all by themselves.

Popcorn Shrimp

Craving something crunchy but nutritious at the same time? As a kid, popcorn shrimp was probably a staple in your diet. It’s easy to make and requires very little prep time. What’s nice about popcorn shrimp is that it doesn’t have to be fried to be delicious.

If you want to cut down on popcorn shrimp calories, simply back them instead of frying them in oil. Popcorn shrimp can also be cooked in an air fryer. This still allows you to get the crunch you’re craving but without the added fat (and calories!) from the oil.

Aside from being absolutely delicious, popcorn shrimp offers solid nutrition. Shrimp is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and iodine. Most popcorn shrimp has about 230 calories, which is sure to work nicely into your cheat day.

You can eat popcorn shrimp with your favorite dipping sauce or you can turn it into a full meal. Popcorn shrimp is perfect for making po’boy sandwiches, or honey walnut shrimp. Add extra flavor by coating them in sesame seeds or parmesan cheese.

Lean Charcuterie Platter

Who doesn’t love meat and cheese combined with chips and other tasty morsels? Charcuterie platters are usually made with high-fat (and therefore high calorie) meats and cheeses. But, you can easily make your own at home with healthier and lower-calorie options.

For a DIY charcuterie platter, consider including:

Sliced or smoked turkey
Gouda cheese
Blue cheese
Seasonal vegetables
Brined or pickled foods (ie. pickles, olives, etc.)
Salted nuts

Be sure to serve your board with pita chips and whole wheat crackers. For an even lighter option consider using veggie chips.

Lightened Up Pizza

Did you know that most slices of pizza have at least 200 calories? And if you’re like most people, one slice of pizza is never enough. This means that you could easily consume over 800 calories in pizza alone! Since traditional pizza could easily send your cheat day off the rails, you’ll want to modify your meal so that you can still enjoy tomato sauce and gooey cheese, but with fewer calories.

If you aren’t opposed to making pizza at home, there are all sorts of lighter options. Simple changes such as using low-fat cheese or opting for a non-traditional crust can make a huge difference in your calorie consumption. Don’t forget to pack on the fresh veggies as well!

Try using healthier crust options such as flatbreads, tortillas, or even an English muffin. This way you can still fulfill your pizza craving without having to worry about the scale the next day.

Loaded Nachos

Nachos often get a bad rap for being high in calories and generally unhealthy. But the fact is that nachos can be quite nutritious, especially when you make them at home. Cook up your favorite protein, such as chicken, shrimp, beef, or pork, and then add your favorite fresh toppings. Some of the must-haves include:

Fresh diced tomatoes

You can choose to keep the calories low by using low-fat cheese, low-fat sour cream, and by using a healthier chip option such as veggie chips, pita bread, or homemade tortilla chips made using low-carb/low-calorie tortillas.


A cheat day doesn’t have to ruin your progress. There are many ways that you can enjoy your favorite foods without eating an enormous amount of calories. Keep these snacks and meals in mind for your upcoming day off of dieting!