Dieting is hard.
But cheating is easy.
A new study says planned hedonic deviations, or cheat days, can help dieters stay on track.
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.