Is it Better to Sit or Stand While Eating?

If you're standing and eating while reading this, maybe you'd better sit down. Standing while eating is a byproduct of a busy life. But the research is mixed as far as whether it's healthy for you.

Your food doesn't taste as good if you eat it while standing, according to a new study. Credit: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages

Tips

Your food doesn't taste as good if you eat it while standing, according to a new study. Also, eating while standing may cause you to feel more stress. But you may actually eat less.

Sit or Stand?

There aren't many studies on whether sitting or standing directly affects your health. Standing while eating could be considered trendy. Ikinari Steak in New York features tables where diners stand while digging into their steaks, to positive reviews.

But the Journal of Consumer Research authors threw cold water on that theory in a May 2019 article. They found that food eaten while standing simply doesn't taste as good, writing, "When eating in a standing (vs. sitting) posture, consumers rate the taste of pleasant-tasting foods and beverages as less favorable, the temperature intense, and they consume smaller amounts."

Eating smaller amounts may actually be a benefit, but it comes at a cost, according to the study's lead author Dr. Dipayan Biswas, professor of marketing at the University of South Florida (USF), in an article published by USF News in June 2019. The study found that those who ate standing up were more stressed than those who ate sitting down.

Read more: Calories Burned Standing Vs. Sitting

Stress and Eating

Standing, even for a few minutes, causes stress, according to the Journal of Consumer Research study. Standing up makes it harder for your taste buds to work well. Gravity from standing forces blood to your lower body. This means your heart has to beat faster to bring blood back up to your head and neck area.

The chain reaction continues with your body releasing the stress hormone cortisol. All this means you're less likely to taste your food and even to perceive the temperature of the food.

Participants in the study ate brownies from a bakery. Seated subjects thought they were delicious. Standing participants rated the brownies a bit lower. Those standing then tried brownies from the same recipe, but made with 1/4 cup extra salt. They didn't notice any difference.

These findings may be useful for parents who want their kids to eat something they don't like. They may also be good for anyone who has to take a foul-tasting medicine, Biswas said.

Read more: Why Do People Lose Weight When Stressed?

Mindfulness and Eating

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says standing while eating may lead to eating mindlessly or eating too fast. In fact, mindful eating may prevent compulsive overeating, according to a study in the April 2018 journal Scientific Reports.

Harvard Health Publishing says mindful eating involves taking note of the colors, flavors and textures of your food; chewing it slowly; getting rid of distractions and not feeling guilty about eating.

An article in the August 2017 issue of the journal Diabetes Spectrum says that diets tend to focus on rules and outcomes of eating. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is meant to help people savor their food, their time eating it, and be fully present for the eating experience.

Mindfulness hasn't, however, been shown to directly affect weight loss, according to a review of studies in the January 2015 issue of the journal Psychomatic Medicine. The authors said further research is needed. Yet, a study in the March 2018 issue of Current Obesity Reports found strong support for mindful eating as a part of weight loss programs.

Takeaways From Sitting vs. Standing

If you have to stand while eating, don't add more stress by worrying about it. But if you have the choice, Harvard Health Publishing cautions that when eating while distracted, you may not realize you're getting full. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full. Eating while distracted may also mean you're not digesting your food properly, Harvard Health says.

The American College of Pediatricians said in a May 2014 report that family time at the dinner table has dropped 30 percent over the past 30 years. From better family discussions to better nutrition, eating meals at the dinner table is beneficial. Here are some of their findings:

  • Teens with frequent family dinners get better grades in school
  • Better language development
  • Children are 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods
  • Less TV watching
  • Lower risk of drug, alcohol and tobacco use
  • Less stress.
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