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Team Sitting

1. Less Mindfulness

Advocates of eating while seated point to studies on how sitting impacts the speed and enjoyment of eating. They say that when we sit, we pay more attention to the meal, often because we are less likely to multitask while eating compared to if we were standing. This is referring to mindfulness and the potential for increased ability to savor, noticing flavors and textures. When we are more mindful we tend to have more meal or snack satisfaction, which can help prevent overeating (the distracted mindless eater is susceptible to eating again when not hungry as a result of not having the full eating experience the first time).

2. Puts Us in Fight-or-flight Mode

Interestingly, like Team Standing, Team Sitting also claims digestion is better this way. The idea is that when the body is seated, it is in more of a rested state and this allows the parasympathetic nervous system to be in the driver’s seat. The parasympathetic nervous system is known as the “rest and digest” system because it increases intestinal activity. This theory needs more time under the microscope because it assumes that the body is noticeably more in fight or flight mode (without the “rest and digest” system in charge) when we are standing compared to sitting.

3. Less Satiety

Then there is the idea that food leaves stomach faster when standing, decreasing fullness and nutrient absorption. This claim is often accompanied by a reference to one study done in Japan that compared carbohydrate absorption in women who laid down after eating and women who sat upright after eating. This lying versus sitting information got extrapolated into advice about sitting versus standing.

Meaghan Ormsby, MS, RD is a private practice dietitian in Seattle, WA.

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