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Science Proves What Dieters Already Knew: Cheat Days Are Good For You

A new study says planned hedonic deviations, aka cheat days, actually help dieters with motivation, self-control and accomplishing goals.

By Jamal Andress | April 20, 2016

Dieting is hard. 

But cheating is easy.

A new study says planned hedonic deviations, or cheat days, can help dieters stay on track.

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The study says cheat days help, (1) regain self-regulatory resources, (2) maintain motivation and (3) 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 you avoid counter-regulatory eating, or the "what-the-hell" effect.

The what-the-hell effect: After breaking one small dietary rule, you 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.

This video includes clips from Universal Pictures and Tri-Star Pictures and images from Getty Images. Music via Frenic / CC BY 3.0.

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