In ancient Greece and Rome, it was common for people to eat in a lying-down posture, and dining furniture was designed accordingly.
Currently, most people worldwide eat in a seated position, typically at a table.
But there’s also a growing interest in the potential benefits of eating while standing—and it’s not because of fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles. It could be better for your health.
Improved Gastric Emptying
Standing up during and after meals can help ensure food moves through your digestive tract more efficiently.
This is probably related to how your posture and gravity work together to move food and fluid from your stomach into your small intestine, where it can be further digested and absorbed.
If gastric emptying (the emptying of your stomach contents into the small intestine) is too slow, you may feel bloated and uncomfortable. This condition is called gastroparesis, and it can negatively impact your blood pressure, blood sugars, and overall health.
Reduced Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Standing up may also help reduce the impact of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition characterized by frequent heartburn and acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus. This typically happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach) is too damaged or stretched out to stay fully closed.
This is why lying down after a meal can worsen GERD symptoms—the posture allows stomach contents and acid to flow easily into and damage your throat.
When you eat while standing, there is less pressure on your guts, while gravity also helps keep stomach contents in your stomach where they belong. This may help reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux and heartburn.
When you spend more time standing up, it naturally encourages you to move more.
Sitting all day long isn’t just associated with an increased risk of obesity and chronic disease. Still, it can also lead to weakened muscles, reduced mobility, and bad posture and could even shorten your lifespan.
Spending more time on your feet can help to counteract these effects.
Of course, standing isn’t a magic cure-all, and there are potential downsides to consider.
The accelerated gastric emptying that comes with standing and moving around might interfere with the digestion of carbohydrates, potentially causing bloating and gassiness. It could sometimes lead you to feel hungrier and eat more, which may offset any benefits in terms of weight control.
And if you have any problems with your feet, standing for long periods of time might not be the best idea.
But overall, standing while you eat could be an excellent way to change your routine and improve your approach to food and activity. Listen to your body; if you experience any negative effects, stop and sit down.