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

Responses: 88


Updated August 23, 2011

It's Gotten Worse.

I have a lot of trouble eating in front of others. I used to sit with my two friends all the time, but they started sitting with the guys. So I stopped sitting with them completely. Whenever I did sit with them and the guys, I wouldn't eat. They thought I was anorexic. I just can't eat in front of them for some reason. They're not shy at all when they eat. I get terrified when they say it's lunch time. It's gotten so bad to the point of where I'm eating in my room, on the computer, I'll have to cover up my webcam cause I think somebody's watching me eat.
—Guest Guest Hannah

I've been there

When I was around 13-15 I couldn't eat in front of anyone. Family was fine, and my best friend, but anyone else's presence meant I couldn't eat a thing. Gradually, it went away. I don't know that I did anything to make it, you just find that sometimes eating in front of others is unavoidable, and then it slowly becomes less and less of a big deal. I didn't think I would ever get over it, but everyone I know who had this problem did, and you will too. It makes things hard, but it won't be forever.
—Guest HTM

I feel like I should die right there

I have the same problem. I feel very shy eating and it has been since childhood. Now I am 39 I cannot still get over from it. Like you all I have avoided functions. But, sometimes I don't feel like that at all. Yesterday, I went to drink coffee by myself to get used to drinking and eating in public - my hands shook and I spilled coffee on my coat and I am 39 years old. Another day, I went to eat purposely alone, I don't know why wherever I go people stare at me - lots of people tell me I am beautiful. I am already shy, staring makes it even worse for me. I had to eat it so slow that my coffee had become so cold.
—Guest guest

Oh lawd!

Hi, I'm a 13 y/o girl. I'm very athletic, funny, pretty (not trying to be cocky). I'm also very tan, and it scares the sh*t out of me when I am about to go to lunch!! I start to shake and well everything just goes wrong! People think I'm anorexic and it's just annoying to me that they think that. Every time I've tried eating in front of a guy i get SOMETHING in my teeth. Please guys, girls aren't trying to starve themselves. Just don't look at them when they eat!! That's what I tell my boyfriend.
—Guest Sydney

My girlfriend

I have a new girlfriend who always turns down food when i'm around her. Her stomach will even growl over and over and over again, and she still wont eat in front of me! I was worried at first but I guess this forum means its relatively normal. Idk, i just can't understand, it's not like eating is a turnoff!
—Guest jake

No eating with boys!

I've always eaten in front of everybody and I always care what people think. When I got to high school I started getting scared to eat around people my age. I can't eat around boys. Maybe some chex mix or maybe a sip of some water. If it's pizza or chicken nuggets anything like that I get really weird and can't stop thinking people are staring at me. I don't know why I do it. So for all you people out there I feel you.
—Guest Jmac

i wasnt always like this

I never knew there were other people feeling the same way I did about eating in public... I used to love to go out to eat with my boyfriend and his family and eat or my family. In the past 2 years (2010-2011) I avoided eating places at all cost. I can't even eat at my boyfriend's parents' house anymore. They think I don't like them. And my boyfriend of 4 years gets mad when I say no or that I'm not hungry. I feel so bad but he just doesn't understand... my mouth gets really wet and I get a really strong pain in my stomach like I'm going to throw up. I can't even drink anything! Someone help me...
—Guest Leslie

Constantly worried

When I have to eat in front of people I'm not comfortable with I am constantly looking around trying my best not to make eye contact for fear that I will look like an idiot to them when I eat. It's f*cked up.
—Guest Anna

Burning up

Whenever I have to eat in front of people I get really self conscious and most of the time my face burns up. Having a bright red face then gets pointed out and makes me want to avoid the whole eating thing all together. It sucks being so weird.
—Guest Jade

Jesus, have mercy on me!

I think it started since I was a kid. Now I'm 33 and it got worse. Right now I can't even sign my name or write something in front of someone. May the Lord have mercy on me and deliver (heal) me as soon as possible. People, pray for me as I'm praying for all of you.
—Guest Ricardo

Can't eat in front of boys

I went to an all-girl high school and was very comfortable being with girls. When I was 18, I went to pre-college where I started to meet boys at cafes and classes. Its kinda hard because the last time I had been close and hung out with boys was when I was 12 . I can be cheerful and talkative too with boyfriends who can make me really really comfortable..however, one day one of my girlfriends (from high school) ate lunch with me and her special bf. Suddenly I started shaking too much and I felt weird, but I tried to finish my food and I did. My friend says that I seemed afraid. I don't know why.. Later I went to university and had a crush on my classmate. When we hung out together, and partied etc I was so nervous especially when we were close. Because I knew I would shake (I've tried and end up ashamed), I would try to sit far from the boys, and as time went on, they knew which seat they should take. I am so lucky to have friends who understand. It is a phobia..good surrounding is all you need.. :)
—Guest recently


I was never nervous to eat in front of my family. Now I can't even drink a cup of water or pop without my hands shaking. Also when I'm about to pick up my drink my back of my neck tenses really bad to the point where it shakes or twitches too. It is really embarrassing. I know my dad and sister noticed one time while we were all eating. They were eating but not looking at me but when I drank my pop I shook badly and at the corner of their eye they saw it and looked at me without thinking about, just a quick response. They looked for a second then looked away and they didn't say anything. I just thought they were acting like nothing happened. They didn't tell me anything or laugh or anything but it still made me think that they thought I have a problem.
—Guest Guest

Eating anxiety since childhood!

Since I can remember, I've had severe problems with eating around others. I can remember as far back as 4 years old. My twin and I refused to eat at school for years, even in kindergarten. We were literally starving ourselves. Never found out why. Now we're 21, she's totally over it and I'm not. It took me 1 year to eat a single bite of food in front of my partner whom I'm now with for 5 years and STILL shy about it! I wouldn't eat a single bite, no matter what or how hungry I was and in high school wouldn't eat unless in the restroom. I got to where I could eat around other females, but never males and I still have some anxiety about it, but not terribly. I remember panicking before going out with boys & would go to great lengths not to eat. I was never worried about weight gain, but I have weird shyness when it comes to men period. I still am interested in learning why my twin and I had such severe problems eating around anyone. For me, it was almost as terrifying as being naked!
—Guest KR

i hate eating with anyone

I've had this problem since 8th grade because when I would eat with my friends they would always make fun of me and say that I eat too fast so I would get really angry and it would really embarrass me so I skipped lunch at school because I hate the feeling of having to eat proper like I'm in a fancy restaurant. I hate the feeling of having to eat super slow and get paranoid if I get crumbs or food on my face. To be honest I would rather starve than deal with this sh*t.
—Guest potoffreshgold

Nervous stomach?

This all mostly started happening to me in my senior year at high school until present (late 2011). When I'm comfortable I'm a really talkative outgoing person, I even get annoying to a point, a funny annoying. But it seems when there is SOME event coming up: restaurant, party, going out in general. I know in my head that it's going to be fun but my body feels really nervous and shaky. When it comes to food I always lose my appetite even if I'm hungry. When the big plate of food comes, after a few bites I already feel full. After a few more bites my stomach starts churning and my mouth starts salivating, my body is ready to throw up. I always go to the bathroom and just hold it in for about 6-8 minutes. Soon it will go away but I still don't have my appetite. And this happens at least once a day. When ever I'm nervous or self-conscious.
—Guest GoodLuck

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