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Does exercise influence your eating?

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Does your perception of how hard you exercise influence how much you eat? Do you think that it is okay to eat more calories, because you recently exercised?

An interesting study at Cornell University involved a one mile walk around a lake before being served dinner. The study group was divided in half, and each group had a leader for their walk.

The first group was told by their leader that they were going on a scenic walk. During the walk the leader described the birds, trees, bridge, and other sights. The leader of the second group pretended to be an exercise leader, telling the group to "Keep their heart rate up," or "We are half-way through." Both groups actually walked at the same pace.

When they finished the walk, they were served dinner. The exercise group ate more calories than the scenic walk group with most of the increase from dessert. The exercise group estimated that since they had burned more calories from their exercise walk, they could eat more calories. When actually both groups had burned the same calories on their walk.

Does this rationale sound familiar? Do you justify eating a large dessert because you just returned from an exercise class at the Y? Are you struggling with your weight? 

This study shows that we need to be mindful of our eating. Our mind can trick us into thinking that we can justify eating the high calorie dessert, because we just burned lots of calories. We need to keep a wary eye on our tricky mind.