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

Responses: 113


Updated August 23, 2011

I've had this for 10 years

I'm 27 now and I remember developing this at the end of high school. I just can't eat at restaurants, and the fancier the occasion the worse. The atmosphere just nauseates me, makes me feel hot and dizzy, and the smells make me think I'm going to vomit. I have to force myself to eat slowly and I have no appetite. I'm skinny and I don't have an eating disorder because I eat so comfortably at home with my family. The food just nauseates me and it's not about it being fattening. Even salad nauseated me. I guess it's a fear of throwing up. Sometimes I get comfortable enough in the conversation and relax and can eat. Other times I just end up taking the whole thing to go.
—Guest Lily

I can't eat in front of my boss!!!

I'm 18 yrs of age. Everyday at work, at 10:00 am me and a couple of other collaegues go down to buy a cake from the cafe. I know that this doesn't sound bad, but when I get the time to eat it, I can't because he is there. When he goes to the printer I make sure that I have a small bite, and when he is around me, I face away from him so that I can eat. I usually don't bother to go out for lunch either, but that is improving, going out for lunch I mean. I feel that anyone can overcome that fear of eating in front of people bit by bit, try eating a small chocolate bar, take one that has segments, so that you can slowly get back into the habit of eating in front of others, remember, your anxious. You will be able to eat in front of other eventually, it just takes time.
—Guest J

Boyfriend's Parents

It started when I was in 8th grade on my way to see an ex boyfriend and I got so nervous on the way to go see him that I puked. Now I can't eat in front of boyfriend's parents. Doesn't matter which boyfriend, I even dated someone for 18 months and still couldn't eat in front of his parents. Just thinking about it would make me feel nauseas. I now have to make up excuses why I can't go over to my current boyfriends house because I can't handle it. The stress is exasperating. I always throw up and even taking a bite to eat would cause me to throw up. Sometimes just the thought. But it's mainly a problem when it comes to a sit down meal. I can eat chips or a popsicle, but I can't sit down at the table. I need help. and I have no idea where to start.
—Guest ACD

I can't eat in front of my mother.

Right now I'm waiting for my mom to leave the house. I didn't eat lunch at school and now am really hungry but I too scared to even run down and get a small snack. This problem happens mostly with my mom, especially during non-meal times or eating more than I should. It's not like my mom has ever criticized my weight or that I'm overweight (4'11'', 94 pounds), but I feel like she sees me as fat and that makes me feel fat. I know it's probably just paranoia but I can't shake it.
—Guest Hannah

yeah, i have weird eating things c:

Okay, well I've always been a bit funny eating around people. It's completely fine when I'm with my muma or my sister... but anyone else I just can't do it, it's not that the food is messy or anything it's just I feel guilty and embarrassed when I eat & have a list of embarrassing foods.. I've never eaten at school apart from skittles, they're the only thing I actually manage to eat in front of others, I'm not sure what it is really c: when I stay out or go to parties I end up not eating for days & I'm soo hungry but dont even talk about it.. something that has effected me lately is my boyfriend, his mum is great & I'm a veggi so she cooked me a veggi meal, but I just couldn't eat it & I felt sooo bad :/ Everyone finds it weird that I don't eat & often ask me about it. I feel so stupid when i talk about it because eating is such a normal thing, yet I'm embarrassed by it, reading these made me feel better, thanks! :)
—Guest only me

I just can't eat!!

At lunch at school I NEVER eat because I feel that people are staring at me and judging me! I can't even take a bite of anything! My friends always look at me when I don't eat and ask, "Why aren't you eating?" I'm kinda afraid to say, "Because I can't eat in front of you!" so instead I say something like, "I'm not hungry" or "I had a big breakfast so I'm ok" but I say these things like everyday! So I think their starting to figure out that there's something wrong! It's not that I'm not hungry, it's just that I can't eat around anyone! I feel bad for lying to them, but how weird would it be if I told them I can't eat around people! But I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one who can't eat around people!
—Guest Carly

I'm so scared

So me and my mom dad and brother are going out to eat and I hate eating in front of other people. I can eat in front of my fam but no other people and my biggest fear would be to order the food.
—Guest Kala

That Awkward Moment

I'm 18 years old and I thought that this would just disappear once I was older but it didn't, it got worse actually. I can't eat in front of people. And when I do I feel like people are judging me. I don't know why and I can't help it. I've been told that I have great manners so I'm not worried about chewing with my mouth open or anything it's just eating. I don't know why I can't do it. And if I do eat in front of people I always hide my face so they can't really see me. I use to be/ still kinda am bulimic. I mean it has gotten better but I still feel horrible when I eat. People always ask me why I don't eat and all I can say is "I'm not hungry" when what I really want to say is "I can't eat in front of you." But that makes me sound like some alien or something. Is there something wrong with me? I don't understand. Why am I so nervous to eat in front of people?
—Guest Bridgette

Boys make it scary

When I'm around boys I just can't eat!!! It frightens the life out of me!! I always think they're watching but I know they're not. Whenever they offer me something to eat I always turn them down but I actually really want to eat it!!! Yesterday when I was shopping with my boyfriend and my best friend my boy offered me a chip and I said I wasn't hungry but I was. Then later on he offered me some popcorn and I said no but I wanted it!! He then asked me..."do u ever eat?" and I felt soooo awkward and embarrassed! I could have cried! I really want to tell someone but I don't want them to think I'm stupid. I definitely have a problem. This isn't normal!! I am 12 years old for cryin out loud!!! Someone HELP ME PLEEEAAASSEE!!!! :'( but I'm glad I'm not alone x
—Guest Lover xx

Frustrated with myself

I think this social anxiety of mine started when I vomited around others in public when I was younger and since then I've occasionally (depending on the situation, for example being nervous around certain people) been anxious to eat around others in fear of being nauseous while with them. When this feeling occurs, I eat slower than usual and take small bites and when people tell me I eat slow I get even more self-conscious. Being naturally skinny also makes me self-conscious because I feel that if I don't eat around people, they'll get the wrong idea and think I'm anorexic or bulimic. Eating slowly or eating alone has helped me throughout the years because I tend to feel okay and even though I rarely ever vomit, I still have a constant fear that I will.
—Guest Karen

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

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