In a previous STACK article, I detailed how smaller plates and bowls, larger forks and plates that contrast the color of the foods they're serving can all help you eat less. Now, we can add standing to that list.
Most of us only eat standing up when seating is unavailable or when we're in a big hurry. But that simple act has a big impact on your relationship with whatever it is you're eating. A new study from the University of South Florida found that compared to sitting, standing up while you eat leads you to consume less food while also significantly altering your perceptions of taste and temperature. From Science Daily:
Holding a standing posture for even a few minutes prompts physical stress, muting taste buds. The force of gravity pushes blood to the lower parts of the body, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood back up to the top of the body, accelerating heart rate. This activates the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and leads to increased concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. This chain reaction reduces sensory sensitivity, which impacts food and beverage taste evaluation, food temperature perception and overall consumption volume.
Study lead author Dipayan Biswas, PhD, professor of marketing at the University of South Florida, recruited 350 participants to rate the tastiness of a pita chip. Those who were standing while they consumed it rated it less tasty than those who ate it while sitting in a padded chair. They repeated the same procedure with bite-sized brownies, and the seated group again rated them more delicious. Then, the same brownies were baked with an extra 1/4 cup of salt added, making their taste unpleasant. This time, the participants who were standing didn't seem to register the recipe change as having a significant effect on taste. The seated group did. The standing participants rated the salty brownies to have "a relatively more favorable taste perception than those who sample them while sitting down."
Essentially, standing up mutes your taste buds for better or worse. Tasty stuff doesn't taste quite as good, and unpleasant items don't taste quite as unpleasant. Further tests included how being seated vs. standing affected a person's perception of the temperature of hot coffee. The standing group reported the coffee as not being as intensely hot as the seated group did, and they also consumed less coffee overall.
"Eating while standing can also help with long-term weight loss goals," reads Science Daily's summation of the findings. "Specifically, eating while standing (vs. sitting) leads to lower amount of consumption. Moreover, a standing position leads to greater physical stress, which in turn makes the heart pump more blood."
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