Is it Better to Sit or Stand While Eating?

Sitting down to eat can help you consume less food and fewer calories, according to a 2007 study that involved adult women and was published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics." It can also help you make healthier food choices. There is a debate, however, because human beings tend to burn more calories while standing than while sitting. When you're eating, however, taking the time to sit and enjoy your meal can bring about a range of health benefits that you just don't get from standing up.

A businessman eating a hotdogs near a stand on the sidwalk. (Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Stay Seated

Sitting down to eat can help you consume less food and fewer calories, because you eat more slowly and pay attention to what you're putting into your mouth. A 2007 study of adult women that was published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" found that total calorie consumption was lower in women who ate slowly, compared with women who ate more quickly. Over time, sitting down to eat can increase the odds of weight loss, because you're consuming fewer calories overall.

Sit Down and Chew More

When you sit down to eat, you're more likely to eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for feelings of fullness to reach your brain, according to the Medline Plus website, and slowing down will allow you to get that message. Eating slowly increases your feelings of satiety, according to a 2013 article published in the "Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism," which can help you stop eating when you're full. A 2008 study of Japanese adults published in the "British Medical Journal" discovered that eating quickly is associated with a higher risk of being overweight. Another study, also involving Japanese adults and published in 2013 in "PLOS ONE," found that chewing more and eating more slowly can reduce the risk of diabetes. When you shovel your entire meal into your mouth in five minutes, your brain won't send the message to your stomach that you're full until after you've overeaten.

Be Aware of What You're Eating

If you're standing in front of the refrigerator or over the sink wolfing down a quick meal, you're far less likely to pay attention to what you're actually eating. In fact, when you're standing up to eat, it's more likely that you're eating things that aren't necessarily healthy. When you sit down, however, you can be more conscious of exactly what foods you eat, according to Denny Waxman, a macrobiotic counselor and author of "The Great Life Diet." Sitting down to eat also helps you keep track of how much you're eating, which means you're more likely to stop when you're full.

Savor Your Meal

Taking the time to sit down at mealtimes gives you a chance to savor the foods you're eating. For example, seasoned foods, such as spicy Mexican food or vanilla-flavored ice cream, can be more enjoyable when you sit down and concentrate on the taste sensations of each bite. Savoring your food can help you feel satisfied with less food overall, which can help with weight loss because you'll be consuming fewer calories. Chances are, you'll choose healthier foods worth savoring, as well, according to John Douillard, Ayurvedic physician and author of "The 3-Season Diet." For example, an heirloom tomato picked out of your garden is worth savoring more so than the flat, greasy burger you pick up at the drive-through. Savoring your meal also creates a sense of community and warmth with friends and family, which further enhances the pleasant nature of sitting down to a meal, notes Deanna Minich, a doctor and mind-body-spirit nutritionist writing for the Food + Spirit website.

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