Should You Eat Standing Up Behind an Adjustable Height Desk?

November 6, 2013

It’s an age-old question: Should you eat standing up? It’s a hectic Monday, the phone is ringing off the hook, and you’re running from the standing desk to the coffee maker. It makes sense that you should frantically eat standing up between meetings.

But is it healthy?

The lunch break has slowly become a thing of the past, with two thirds of office workers eating behind their desks, or choosing to eat standing up. But deciding to eat standing up behind a desk can decrease productivity. It’s important to take a break midway through your workday and check out of the office.

Doctor Chris Cunningham, a professor of Industrial Organizational and Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has an interesting view on the effects of choosing to eat while standing up, or skipping lunch altogether.

Reboot Brain Function
“Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that drain,” Dr. Cunningham said. “And that offers the opportunity to build back some of those resources in the middle of the day – rather than just at the end when work is over.”

So with that, step back from the standing desk and don’t eat standing up, even if it’s for a moment. Dr. Cunningham reports that rebooting time is specific to each person. You may need a full hour, while your coworker needs 20 minutes. If you can’t manage to leave, don’t choose to eat standing up. This could force you to scarf down meals and ingest more calories.

Since you’re at an adjustable height desk, all you need to do is press a button to lower your desk, minimize the 30 open windows on your screen, and take a breather.

Rediscover Your Natural Habitat
Instead of opting to eat standing up in the break room, talk a walk, go outside and get some fresh air. With the beautiful fall weather in full force, enjoying a meal outdoors will make you feel refreshed. We know that sitting is bad for your health, but choosing to eat standing up isn’t doing your body any favors.

If you can’t take a walk, thankfully adjustable height desks have the flexibility to move from sitting to standing. This isn’t advocating the choice to eat standing up, but at least switch the position of your desk for a few moments to take a break, or walk down to the water cooler and grab a drink.

Partake in the Buddy System
“If you’re a service rep or a call-center employee, I could understand why you wouldn’t want to take a social lunch,” Dr. Cunningham said. “But for some of us, it’s different enough from what we’ve been spending our days doing, and we get a lot out of it.”

On slow days, grab a few coworkers and head to lunch. The only catch – don’t talk about work. Friendly conversation is surprisingly refreshing. If you can’t leave, don’t take a loophole and eat standing up around the conference table. That defeats the purpose! Instead of deciding to eat while standing up, head to the break room with friends for a quick meal.

Other suggestions instead of choosing to eat and stand include enjoying your meal and switching up your space. Take time to appreciate your surroundings, and that includes reexamining the leftovers from last night.

It’s also recommended to switch up your focus to reenergize. This could be something small like changing from sitting to standing, or taking a quick stroll around the office.

We love standing desks, but what we love even more is the flexibility that an adjustable height desk gives you. Switching positions gives the boost you need to keep going throughout the workday. But, don’t forget to take a well-deserved lunch break and don’t choose to eat standing up. Your mind and body will thank you.


  1. Great article!

    Comment by William Callahan, CFP® — November 6, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  2. While I stand at work, I sit when I eat at my desk!

    Comment by Dayna Sherman Martin — November 8, 2013 @ 8:13 am

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