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

Responses: 135


Updated August 23, 2011


Whenever I'm at school or shopping or anywhere public I just cant eat, I dont feel right eating in front of people, family and close friends yeah that's fine but I cant seem to eat in front of boys and I don't know why???? People are starting to notice that I don't eat around people and ask why - I just say I'm not hungry. Does anyone have the same?
—Guest hiya

Same problem recently

I have had the same problem as everyone here. I used to get that fear of eating in places with too many people back when I was in school. I would only get it there, strange. After I finished school, everything went well, I could eat anywhere with no problem. But recently I fell in love with this girl, beautiful by the way, so this time her parents invited me to eat lunch with them, I was cool about it so I said yes. But when I was about to eat I just couldn't swallow the damn food. I just stood there like a complete idiot staring at the food. I think her mother must have thought I didn't like the food. I felt very embarrassed that day. They invited me other times after that but I would always say no to their invitation. Since then this crazy thing that I cant eat in front of others started again. I can eat with my family or friends if it is at my house of course. But elsewhere I just can't, not even with my family. I already suffered from slight depression, and now this sh*t!!
—Guest MadWorld

Eating with friends

My friends like to go out for meals, and I like to go with them to be there with my best friend, but most of them are boys and I am so nervous about eating in front of them and looking fat that I eat a tiny amount of things and I try and cover my face. I do really want to try and get over this fear so I wont worry about going out with my friends, I have had support from friends and parents but nothing has worked.
—Guest Mia


I starve at lunch cause my boyfriend sits by me and I'm afraid to eat in front of him like I'm gonna drop something all over me or spill something get it all over my face that would be HUMILIATING! That's why I have a fear of that...Can u help?
—Guest Lanie


I have a fear of eating in front of people I don't know how long it has been I'm 13. I've had this disorder, I'm not even sure if I have a disorder. But I feel like when I eat I'll spill something or get food on my face and embarrass myself in front of people, a guy I like, or at school at the lunch table with friends. I feel like puking sometimes when I eat, food disgusts me at some points. I feel fat and feel like I'm nothing. I feel like people will tell me I'm fat and stuff. I'm not sure what I should do about this......
—Guest Selena

why can't I eat in front of people?

I live in fear of having to eat in front of people, even the closest of family. I will do whatever it takes to get out of the outing. I don't eat in front of family, friends or any1. I would starve before I do. I panic, and I shake but I don't know why. I eat alone and enjoy my food that way. I can drink in front of anyone. I have always been extremely shy, I would sit a mile away from kids at school b4 I ate. I am now almost 70 and have missed out all my life on parties etc, what causes this, is it a phobia of some kind?? thank you.
—Guest Jody lewis


I thought I was being a weirdo about it (like most of you probably did). I lost a stone in 2 weeks at the end of 2010 and since then I've noticed I have this fear of eating in front of people; whether it's a fear of making an idiot of myself or whatever, I don't know. I can eat in front of my mum but no one else. I'm in my second year of college and if I'm on my own, I won't eat and I'd rather just starve all day (leading to lack of concentration, low blood sugar etc), I'll grab a drink and something little like a chocolate bar (though rare). And I definitely won't eat in front of a good-looking guy.
—Guest Lauren

Every time I go to restaurants

This whole thing started about 2 years ago. Just about every time I go to restaurants, I puke. I don't understand it. I'll eat most of my food and just suddenly out of no where, I get really sick, and I just feel like I'm going to puke. My boyfriend is getting tired of taking me out places because I just puke. I don't think I'm afraid to eat in front of people. I don't mind doing that at all. I just get suddenly sick and have to rush to a bathroom. It's awful. Especially when we went on a really special dinner date in Nantucket and I got top of the notch tuna, and I puked in the bathroom. I felt so awful, and I felt bad that my boyfriend spent $35 on a meal that I couldn't finish. I just don't know what to do about this stupid problem I have but I'm sick of it! /:
—Guest Izzy

Not at school

I have this too. I can usually eat with my friend, but he always sits by my crush to get me to talk to her but I can't eat and I won't go anywhere else because i don't know anyone. I dont know what to do other then just sit there and starve.
—Guest Anthony

social anxiety

I hate eating in front of people like my grandma and grandpa. They hurt my feelings and several times I go out to eat I gag and have to eat really slowly and they all look at me like I am a baby about eating. I need help.
—Guest morgan

Would rather starve myself

Not sure why it is I do this - eating at home, on my own when noone else is there, or in front of my partner is okay - but I get so scared of eating in front of others (even my friends) that I prefer to starve myself rather than face the potential humiliation of eating. I think everyone is looking at me and I'm terrified of spilling something, dropping my cutlery or drawing attention to myself in some way - which is ironic as I know by not eating I am. I have to force myself to eat, in situations where I feel there is no way out and that if I don't people will question me; and don't enjoy my food and try and eat in as 'life-less' way as possible. Also, because of this I eat so slowly that I'm usually the one left eating when everyone else has finished. Even, if on occasion I'm hungry and want to carry on eating - I can't and stop. There was a time when eating out used to be fun for me, but now I absolutely dread it. Anyone else who is going through this, I feel for you. I really do.
—Guest Nerf

I can eat

I can't eat in front of my step mom I have tried and I just can't. Plz tell me what I can do to get over it because we were at kings island and she said if I didn't eat she was gonna take me home and I didn't know what to say. I tried to eat and felt like I was gonna pass out. I am 5' 4" and I weigh 89.5 lbs so it's not like I'm over weight, I just cant eat in front of her and I don't know why. Please help me we are going to Disney for a week…what am I gonna do????????
—Guest Ash

ignorant people

I have had social anxiety disorder my whole life and it sucks! Mainly it just depends on the type of people I'm around, I can eat anywhere in public with family and friends, LOVE food, but when it comes to my job I work around a few snobs. Here since it was a new job I didn't know them, complete strangers with heads up their *sses like who is the new girl so I would go out for lunch EVERY day! Here I have S.A.D. Because it's just the beginning I'm shy, it takes a minute for me to open up so I didn't like the vibe and was riding solo plain and simple! Well here I already started my routine, rain or shine snow and all kinds of weather i ALWAYS go out for lunch, then here the girls bring up questions like don't you eat or how skinny I am, then the other one makes a statement that "they all think I'm anorexic" because I don't eat with them! I'm sooo pissed off now with the bullsh*t, like ask me why I don't eat with you first!
—Guest Jen

Made me feel better

I am socially awkward. Going out with friends in town and doing shopping is difficult as well as eating. The thought of buying something scares me. Ive become used to eating in front of my best friend as she has the same problem as me. Eating is my main problem, especially in front of my boyfriend. When we're together he'll happily eat all day but I don't touch a thing, sometimes a few chips if I'm feeling brave. When I do eat these small things I have the habit of covering my mouth or turning away. I can't look at anyone else while they're eating, it makes me feel embarrassed. I'm not quite sure what to do about this, I try and get out of sit-down meals at all costs and it stresses me out. I feel bad as I don't want him to think its a trust thing. I'm happy not know I'm not the only one.
—Guest Pip

Boys do make it scary!!

I thought I was alone too!!! I've always, always, always had problems eating around the boys I like. It's not that I don't like them or don't feel comfortable, it's just that I feel like I'm going to throw up at the thought of food. It got better for a while and now it's getting worse again, I really just wish I could stop feeling this way.
—Guest Annoymous

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