It may be easier to stick to your diet if it includes a little sweet treat! Banning sugary foods could lead to overeating, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers fed one group of rats their regular diet for five days, followed by a high-sugar, chocolate-flavored food for two days, and compared them to another group of rats that ate only their usual diet. They found that on the days the chocolate-food-eating rats ate the standard food, they ate less, but when they returned to eating the sugary stuff, they ate far more.
One reason may be that removing access to sweet foods stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you’re afraid, anxious or stressed, says Pietro Cottone, Ph.D., lead study author. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you’ll binge on junk food.
Bottom line: When you’re on a diet it’s OK to eat just a little bit of those foods you love every day.