Cheat days work -- it's science

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8 delectable desserts you must make for International Chocolate Day
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Cheat days work -- it's science

No. 1: Grant’s Peanut Butter Pretzel Skillet Brownies

This recipe adds crunchy pretzels and peanut butter to soft, pillowy chocolate brownie goodness! It’s a salty-sweet dream! Grant uses a store-bought brownie mix, and simply adds peanut butter and pretzels.

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 2: Chocolate Pots de Crème

These mini-mousses feature espresso and the naughty addition of a shot of Irish whiskey. Cheers to chocolate! 

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 3: Grant’s Magic Chocolate Sauce

You know how you can buy that “magic” chocolate sauce at the grocery store that hardens when you pour it onto your ice cream? Well, our dessert whiz Grant figured out how to make it at home with only two ingredients! Just melt chocolate chips in coconut oil and stir until well combined. Pour on top of your ice cream, let it sit a minute, and watch it firm up!

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 4: Katie Lee's Ballpark Brownies

Yes, we have another brownie recipe for you, but we promise, it’s worth it! Katie Lee’s ballpark-inspired brownies have two concession stand treats hidden inside – pretzels and peanuts. Delish!

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 5: Clodagh McKenna's Guinness Cake

This rich, fluffy chocolate cake with Guinness for effervescence, comes with a warning -- Rachael says you shouldn’t make this for people you don’t like, because they’ll keep coming back for more!

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 6: Heather Bertinelli’s Dark Chocolate Truffles

These amazing truffles are so elegant and more importantly, delicious, that you could actually give them out as gifts for a birthday or the holidays.

Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show

No. 7: Buddy Valastro’s Brownies

You’re probably thinking, “Another brownie recipe?” Trust us, keep reading. The Cake Boss’ recipe is full of ooey-gooey, chocolate-y, fudgey, sticky-fingered amazingness.

Photo credit: Getty

No. 8: Leftover Candy Ice Cream

And finally, if you can’t decide which of the above recipes you like best, why not just take your favorite chocolate candy, and make ice cream with it? This cleverly simple recipe calls for a gallon of pre-made vanilla ice cream, softened and then blended with any candy that you like! Pop it back in the freezer to re-set, and you’re done!

Photo credit: Getty

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You're super regimented about what you eat all week—heavy on the veggies, light on the Ben & Jerry's—but when Saturday hits, you go all-in on eggs Benedict, pizza (extra cheese, please!), and the brownie sundae of your dreams. Instead of waking up Sunday morning with a guilty conscience and a food hangover, though, science says you're actually all good.

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A new study suggests that planned lapses in control may actually help people stick to their goals in the long run, The Atlantic reports. The small study—researchers only surveyed 36 participants—assessed whether people would be better able to stick with their goals if they were given cheat days along the way. (Think a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet versus a 1,300-calorie-a-day diet with a 2,700-calorie day at the end of each week.)

Within a two-week period, participants on both the 1,500-calorie diet and the 1,300-calorie diet lost the same amount of weight, but the cheat day-ers reported being better able to sustain their motivation and self-control than their higher-calorie counterparts. Plus, participants in each group lost similar amounts of weight within that time frame.

In an additional study, the researchers asked participants whether they believed they could better reach their personal goals in a plan that allowed cheat days versus one without. The verdict: cheat days, please!

SEE MORE: The 12 most indulgent chocolate desserts that are actually healthy

Whether it's a "cheat day" (and maybe we should stop calling it that, since it's potentially beneficial rather than a guilt-inducing scandal) from your diet, your budget, or your workout regimen, the study's authors suggest picking a day to temporarily go wild (cupcakes and shopping sprees and rest days, oh yes!) before returning to your status quo.

It works, they theorize, because small lapses in pursuit of our goals can often feel like major setbacks when, in fact, they're more like mini-vacations. (And who doesn't need a vacation?)

SEE MORE: 6 lessons on aging from a scientist dedicated to slowing it down

Eyes on the prize—and the occasional slice of deep dish.

May we suggest a yummy vegan milkshake for cheat day (or any day)? Here are 10 recipes for spring and summer sipping—plus a selection of chocolate desserts that are actually healthy.

For more healthy tips, watch the video below!

6 'Healthy' Foods Nutritionists Won't Eat

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