Using a Balanced Diet Day as a Licence to Indulge
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We commonly succumb to unhealthy food temptations, despite our intentions to be healthy. Self-licensing is a process whereby we allow ourselves to indulge because we can justify it in some way or other. In the present study, participants were required to complete an unhealthy snack diary for three consecutive days. Participants in the experimental condition were instructed to partake in a balanced diet day on the second day of the snack diary, a day where a particular effort is made to eat well and minimize unhealthy snacks. It was expected that participants in the experimental condition would use the balanced diet day as a license to indulge on the day preceding and the day following the balanced diet day. Results showed that this was not the case, participants did not use the healthy act of the balanced diet day as a license to eat more unhealthy calories on the days before and after the balanced diet day. In future studies, researchers may consider creating a more autonomous environment where participants could initiate the healthy behaviour themselves rather than having one imposed upon them. They may also consider using a more inclusive food diary so that meal consumption behaviour can be taken into account.