A new study says planned hedonic deviations, or cheat days, can help dieters stay on track.
The study says cheat days help regain self-regulatory resources, maintain motivation and provide a more positive experience overall.
All of those things help with "long-term adherence," which in turn helps with "final goal attainment."
It also helps people avoid counter-regulatory eating, or the "what-the-hell" effect.
The what-the-hell effect: After breaking one small dietary rule, people give up on the diet as a whole and think, "I've already failed once today. Might as well give up on the week."
This study tested dieting, but the authors say the logic applies to a variety of tasks.
So remember: It's OK to cheat as long as it's part of the plan.
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