Photo by Caitlin Covington

Cheat day.” It even sounds illicit. Give up that strict diet and take a day off— but still lose weight? What’s not to love? Well the bad news is, that isn’t quite how cheat days work. Effective cheating is actually pretty scientific— at least when cheating means intentionally overeating in order to boost metabolism and mood.

But there is an easier way. Nutritionists often recommend accepting that “cheating” is a natural part of dieting and is, therefore, not cheating at all. Some suggest aiming for a 80/20 ratio of strict, healthy eating to indulgences. Once you accept that occasional treats aren’t inherently “bad,” it’ll give you the motivation to stay healthy the rest of the time.

The Takeaway: Cheat days can either be a scientific affair or a psychological one. They’re not a license to eat anything and everything in sight (at least not if you want it to actually help weight loss).

Cheat With Chocolate

Actually, none of these indulgences are even a big deal. Here are 15 ways to enjoy a little bit of the decadent stuff without any of the guilt.

Fun Quote:

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” — Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz