And with cheating, we refer to eating.. and with eating we refer to actual food.. Cheating is allowed,.. maybe even obligatory and necessary. Also when you want to lose weight? Especially then! Researchers have shown that when you are striving for a goal that requires you to restrain yourself, such as losing weight or saving money, you benefit from including planned hedonic deviations in your goal-striving plan. So, let’s bring in that chocolate!
Snacking while on a diet, spending money when you want to save up.. it might look as counterintuitive behavior, right? It’s not. It turns out that people who include planned deviations along the way to their goal, have increased motivation to stick to that plan. People who deliberately plan their ‘bad behavior’ also develop more strategies to deal with all kinds of temptations, and in general they feel much better than people who adopt a straight-line-to-my-goal plan. Planned eating outside of your calorie budget (within limitations of course, you can’t be bad all the time) will then not be associated with failure any more, but as a means to an end, and that is to keep yourself motivated to see it through to the finish line. The authors say that in order to be good in the long run, it’s better to occasionally be bad in the short run.
Coelho do Vale, R., Pieters, R., & Zeelenberg, M. (2016). Successful regulation by planned hedonic deviations. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26, 17-28.