There is something that has to be said about balance. Eating whatever you want when you have a fitness goal is not balance. Balance is only achieved when there is something opposite and opposing on the other end of the scale.
That means that you have to work hard in order to play. While it is fun to have treats in the name of balance, try and keep in mind what is on the other end of the scale and what you stand to lose if that scale gets tipped too far in the opposite direction of your goals.
Balance doesn’t mean going meal for meal or day for day with on plan/off plan choices. It doesn’t even mean taking a free meal every week or even every bi-weekly.
Some people can do that and still progress nicely, if that is you then great! If it isn’t you, your not alone. So where is balance for the majority? It is in the timing. You have to accept the reality that there is a time to keep your diet tight day in and day out for long periods of time, and there is a time to relax a little and not worry about not making any progress.
These are maintenance phases. Sometimes they last for several months and sometimes they are only a bi-weekly or two. A vacation or a string of holidays? These are times to relax. Tuesday night happy hour? Not so much.
If you can’t sacrifice a few free meals and keep it tight for a while, then you need to understand that you will spend a fair amount of your time just spinning your wheels. I am ok with that if you are, but if not? Bring the cheats down a notch and save it for a time that matters more than your physique goal.