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Readers Respond: How do you handle eating in front of others?

Responses: 88

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Updated August 23, 2011

I felt so relieved when I saw this

Most of the people appear to be in their teens (I'm in my mid 20's). I thought I was the only one that felt like this and always felt ashamed by it. I will go to the point of starving when I'm with my boyfriend. I have trouble eating at school and since I live on campus in a place with no kitchen I am forced to eat school cafeteria food. I can't take food from there to my room so I often starve. The worst is eating by myself in the cafeteria, I feel "watched"...you would think eating alone in that situation would do the opposite. I have always been skinny and instead of the frosh 15 I have lost over 15lbs...I'm 5''5 and 125-130 at a healthy weight...now I'm coasting 115-120. Anxiety meds have not fixed this. I guess all I wanted to say to the people that read this is, "you're not alone".
—Guest someone

To the point of crying.

Me and my boyfriend have been going out for a year now and I still avoid eating in front of him, for our anniversary he has asked me to go to a pizza restaurant, he knows about my phobia and I told him I wasn't too comfortable with the idea. He thinks I'm being silly and the thought of ordering and then actually eating makes me want to cry. I need some tips to get over this pathetic fear?
—Guest R

Help me Please!

I can't eat in front of my boyfriend. I'm best friends with his sister, but when he's there I can't eat anything like a meal. And when it's unavoidable, I have to sit there and stretch and pretend like I'm doing something. In front of people like friends, like his sister, without him is fine but him and his family just always politely ask and by now they know that I'm going to say no. Sometimes I get courage and do it and surprise them but usually not. It bothers me because his parents are really good cooks. I'm going somewhere with them in a few weeks, and we're going for breakfast that morning, and I know I cant skip out. I'm worried about what I'm gonna say when I have to order, and if I get like pancakes, I'm worried about cutting it....I feel so strange. I don't get as hungry as I do at home, but I feel like i have to eat.
—Guest Shan

"I hate this feeling."

I am a 17 year old. I have had a boyfriend for 8 months. When I met his family I was totally calm and relaxed. When it comes to food, I have the feeling like I am going to throw up. I didn't want that to happen to me around his family. They were worried that I couldn't eat at all. I took a small nicely, squared piece of chicken. I took a bite of it, and couldn't even swallow another bite. IT WAS SO SMALL and it gave me a nervous stomach. One time, with an ex-boyfriend of mine I met his family for the first time, and I was sweating and nauseous. I ran and threw up on the ground where the plants were, since I couldn't hold it to get to the bathroom. I felt so embarrassed and my ex-boyfriend laughed at me. It was so humiliating. Now, it happens when it comes to food. I do need help, to figure out why all of this is happening to me. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! :(
—Guest Guest Katie

I can't eat in front of certain people!

I have the exact same problem as the boy eating at his girlfriend's house. I smell the food and I'm hungry but suddenly I just want to throw up and feel all sweaty and dizzy when I sit down to eat. I love food and around the majority of people I don't have an issue but when eating with certain people this panic comes over me for no reason. It gets worse each time I'm around those people because the more I think they're offended or they think I have an eating disorder the more panic I feel! It's just awful!!!!
—Guest Guest Kate

Embarrassed to eat around my boyfriend

Yes I'm glad I'm not alone. I'm so frightened of eating in front of my boyfriend. I have no idea why I just am, or in front of any boys besides my family! Is there any way to overcome this!!! I just hate the topic of food and feel embarrassed when mentioned! And I'm 15, will it get any better, are there some tips or ideas that will help me!?
—Guest Makayla

THIS IS HORRIBLE.

So I'm 15 and I can't even eat in front of others yet, stupid right? I find myself buying food that seems "easy to eat" and even still taking small discreet bites and covering my mouth with my hand while I chew. I'm fine in front of family and my best friend but anybody else I seem to panic. It feels horrible because don't get me wrong I love my food but when I don't feel comfortable to eat it it upsets me because I don't understand it??
—Guest Laura

Hungry in Houston

I'm 15 and I can't eat easily in front of others. I wish everyone wouldn't look at me. I'll get food at lunch and every 3 minutes or so I will take a small quick bite. Since my peers know I won't finish my food they will ask for it right off the bat and I feel the need to give it to them ASAP so they won't persist asking. A new person started to sit at our table and thought I was anorexic. After lunch my stomach growls in a way that I'm sure everyone can hear. I feel that I'm slowing starving myself.
—Guest Kate

I can't eat with my husband & children

I have had this problem since I was in my teens after starting part time work in the evenings which meant I always missed the family dinner & had mine when I got home by myself. Over time, I started feeling really self conscious about eating with them eating at weekends & the problem gradually got worse. I'm 34 now & I still suffer from not being able to drink in front of other people or eat with them, not even with my hubby & 2 children, I really hope that my problem will not rub off on them. When they have friends over they must think I'm weird when I always take my dinner through to the bedroom :-( I've had to accept that I find eating a personal thing & I cannot understand how other women eat in front of men?! I can't even buy a sarni in front of a man & I get sooo embarrassed buying food in a shop, it's ruined my life & I have missed out on a lot as I also have crippling social anxiety, I have a cleft lip & palate which points to the reasons why I think? Really thought I was the only one.
—Guest Joanna 34

Please help me!

I have the same problem, and I feel so horrible because I'm afraid to talk about it with my parents. I have a feeling that there's no way they can help me and it's something that I have to get over on my own. At school I only pick out one thing to eat, like a bag of chips, but now it's at the point where I don't want to eat anything. I'm afraid my friends will think I'm anorexic. I can't even eat out in public without a feeling of great panic.
—Guest Jordyn

I'd rather starve!

Nothing scares me more than having to eat in public, or around anyone outside my immediate family. Also, if someone I'm comfortable with looks at me eating I stop right there and run to a washroom to force myself to throw up. I can't even have a Starbucks without stressing out! It's hard to go to parties or sleepovers with friends because I can't eat. I don't know what to do and it's getting worse now that my father is remarrying. At least I am not alone.
—Guest Catie

My girlfriends mom thinks i hate her foo

So i have trouble eating whenever I'm at my girlfriend Caitlin's house. The food smells great, and I'll be hungry when I'm coming in a lot of the time, but once her mom starts cooking dinner, my stomach feels like I'm about to throw up and I get really nervous. At home my parents don't really have sit down meals or cook and having family dinner, but hers do at the dinner table. I don't know whether it's cuz of something I'm not used to and I'm just nervous b/c of her parents or what, but it sucks. Good to know I'm not the only one.
—Guest Tyler

Solution

I'm a boy and I'm suffering from the same thing, I found that if I eat together with boys it's okay, but in front of girls it's just.. awkward (for me).
—Guest lolified

Dinner with Parents

So last night I went out to eat with my parents, at some old restaurant, so we sit down and we order and of course I got cheesy fries and a burger so there's this group of people who walk in, a mother, father and their two sons - so now the family sits right across from our table so now the two boys are facing towards me :[ so my food comes and I'm only eating the fries one at a time to make sure nothing spills or whatever and I pick my head up and the boys are staring D: I wanted to die, then my father gets all mad because I didn't take a bite of my burger and he asks my mother why I'm not eating and she guessed it, it's because the boys are sitting across from us. So she tells my father OUT LOUD that our daughter is not eating because of the two boys across from us, so the boys hear my mother say that and they turn their heads and start laughing :'[ never am I ever going out to eat again.
—Guest Bryanna

I cant handle it

That's exactly how I am. I am in Jr. High and I normally sat with my friends at lunch, but then we all got assigned seats so I no longer sit with my friends, just strangers. All I can say is, I haven't eaten lunch for 3 days in a row, and I feel like I'm starving myself :(
—Guest Jillian

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