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Cheat Meals: Not Really Cheating?

With current trends on healthy eating and dieting, it’s easy to feel discouraged if you slip up and accidently eat a cheeseburger instead of following your strict chicken, rice and vegetable diet. However, there’s a counter-trend that actually encourages dieters to indulge in their cravings from time to time.

The “cheat meal” works by making a diet appear more feasible. Looking forward to a reward can serve as a motivating factor and facilitate an individual’s commitment to a diet plan.

Proponents of the “cheat meal” have also claimed that the occasional indulgence in junk foods is necessary for those on calorie-restricted diets and that it will help with weight loss. In calorie-restricted diets, levels of leptin, a hormone responsible for suppressing feelings of hunger, may drop. By having intermittent high calorie intakes, it is proposed that leptin levels can be better regulated and rebound overeating can be prevented. Although there is currently little concrete evidence to support this hypothesis, for many, it is enough to justify Friday night’s pizza. Let’s hope research in the coming years solidifies these beliefs.

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