What difference does it make if you stand at a counter to eat, sit down at a table, or grab a bite on the run? Well, when it comes to your physical and mental health, it might make all the difference in the world.

Whether you're trying to lose a few pounds, maintain a healthy weight, or simply adopt healthier habits, mindful eating—or eating with awareness—can be a helpful approach. Mindful eating simply means paying attention to what you eat along with where you eat it and how you feel. It's not just grabbing a quick bite and gobbling your food down without much thought.

One of the most important steps in mindful eating is sitting down to eat in a relaxed state. This ritual helps you pay full attention to your mood, thoughts, and hunger levels before, during, and after eating. The ultimate goal is to learn to eat just enough food to satisfy your hunger—no more and no less. If you are standing up and eating in a hurry, or moving around while you are eating, you are probably not in a relaxed state, or not eating a healthy, balanced meal and as a result, it is much more difficult to reach this goal.

Another reason to be mindful: To a large degree, your digestive health also depends on your eating habits. If you're eating standing up because you're in a hurry, or you're literally eating on the run, the added stress slows digestion and can result in acid reflux and intestinal distress. And while stress and poor eating habits are not directly related to the formation of ulcers, they can make existing ulcers more painful.

One of the most compelling reasons to sit down while you eat has little to do with fueling the body, improving digestion, or pacing yourself so that you don't overeat. Mealtimes are traditionally times to relax and take a mental and physical break from work, errands, and the distractions of the day. Whether you are eating alone or with others, mealtimes often represent the best opportunity you might have to get in touch with yourself or catch up with family or friends.

And if you have children, it's not only a time to teach them to eat healthy foods but also to practice healthy eating behavior. And you already know the best way to do that is by example.


Haar, M. "NYUT Nutritionist Offers Mindful Eating Tips for 2011." New York Institute of Technology. 3 Jan 2011. Web. 27 Apr 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center: Digestive Disorders. 24 Jan 2008. Web. 27 Apr 2011.http://www.umm.edu/digest/ulcers.htm