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

Responses: 113


Updated August 23, 2011

Some people with social anxiety disorder have a fear of eating or drinking in front of others. If you have this phobia, you may fear shaking while eating or spilling your food or drink, among other things. How do you handle eating in front of others? Have you had a particularly embarrassing eating experience? Do you avoid restaurants at all costs? Have others noticed your anxiety about eating?

scared of eating in front boys

i hate eating in front of boys its so scary.I feel like there watching me so i get a small plate of food.Also because i'm tall i feel like all the boys are watching so all i do it take small bites.
—Guest hannah

Eatting out

I'm 15 and before I was totally fine with eating out but over the past 6 months I've noticed after eating a small amount I feel really sick, and sometimes have to leave the table. But before all of this happens I shake and feel way too hot! Only my boyfriend knows about this because I had to leave the table, but I can eat huge amounts with him at home, with anyone, but not at resturants. I'm too scared to be invited to people's birthday meals etc incase I make a fool of myself. Or I waste my money on food that I haven't even touched! I really want to know what this is called and how it can be solved, because I really want to be able to enjoy myself again. Any responses will be appreciated x
—Guest Katy


I'm 16, I have a fear of eating Infront of anyone but my mum, whenever I eat in a public place I just feel sick and have to leave my food no matter who am Infront of its so awful, makes me feel really silly too, I've had the fear or eating in restaurants since I was like 7 on holiday
—Guest Chloe


I hate eating in public or at school. I feel like everyone is watching me it and it's frightening. I wish I could just eat and be normal. if I eat healthy food, they'll think I'm on a diet. however if I eat unhealthy food people would say "no wonder she's fat, look at what she eats". I can't eat in public because it just makes me anxious and I just feel like crying.
—Guest Zoe

Can't eat in front of my boyfriend

I'm so glad that I found this!!! I'm 15 and have been with my boyfriend for 5 months and I'm too scared to eat in front of him! I don't eat at school anymore and whenever I'm at his house he always offers me food and I always decline. He says he wants to take me out to lunch one day but I'm so scared. I don't know how to break it to him that I'm too nervous to eat around him. I love him but I'm so nervous, I've never eaten with him and I don't know what to do :(( Please help me!
—Guest I really wanna eat now

eating in public

I'm so glad I'm not the only one. I just hope that all of us can get rid of this horrendous problem. I'm nearly 13 a bit too young to just get embarrassed over anything. Anyways I always grab a table for either my group of friends or my family I'm usually the first one to grab my platter and start eating because the Chinese and pizza stands are the closest when you walk into the food court but I just have this problem where when I start eating everyone is staring at me. Every time I eat noodles or whatever i feel like I forgot how to eat it. I started cutting orange chicken with a fork or spoon! Or when I'm at a restaurant I can't grab and try anything new because its that I'll not eat it take it to go and still not eat it or that I'll just secretly give it around. Its horrible I'm usually eating in my room alone or eating at the table. I'm not sure if this makes sense because it's pretty late. Though just know that you're not alone and their is many people seeking for help.
—Guest Valeriaa

I cant eat infront of most people:

I'm so glad I am not the only one alive with this problem. I am only 11 years old. Whenever I eat in front of anyone that isn't either a very, very close friend, or a family member, I start to feel really scared and shy, and I get anxiety attacks. This is actually kind of strange to me, considering I am a very social person, I can easily make new friends and adapt to new environments, but when it comes to eating, I just can't do it. I feel like everyone is going to talk about me the next day, about what a fat slob I am, my family and friends are really worried worry about me because of this. I also feel very uncomfortable about eating in front of cousins and sometimes, even my own mother and father. Sometimes, I eat only a very small amount of bread around my friends, but most of the time, I don't eat at all.
—Guest Katherine

Church camp

When I was about 15 I went to camp with my church youth group. We went to go.eat dinner. Well everyone was eating and talking, I felt like I was going to make a fool of my self. You know spill something...anyway I always notice how people look when they are eating so I assumed people did the same to me. Need-less to say during that 4 day trip I didn't eat once. I am a 17 year old girl and now have full blown anorexia and body dismorphia. I hate the way I look when I eat and after...so I don't eat. Don't want to stop though I'm 5'14th and my goal weight is 95 or 90 and I'm still over 10103

I know the feeling

I'm glad to know i'm not the only one. I've been with my bf for 3 months and today i'm going to his grandmas birthday party. I know there is going to be food there and im extremely nervous about it. I'm fine eating infront of my bf, friends, and family. But my fear has always been eating at other peoples houses. I feel weird eating the food they spent their money on. My bf and his parents know about my problem and have been very supportive. I agreed to go with him today because I knew it woukd make him happy and I really care about him and want to meet his extended family. Im just nervous and dont know how im going to handle eating infront of all these people today im so scared of being judged. I feel like I cant do it...
—Guest MKDS

Nervous wreck

I have a dinner date tonight but I hate eating in front of people! I am so scared and I would really like to her rid of this fear bc I'm scared it might ruin my relationship
—Guest Bailey

What is this?

Everyday at school I bring a sandwich but never seem to get to it.. I feel uncomfortable.. and all my friends are completely fine eating, they'll talk about how great this tastes or how much they like this and I just cant seem to eat in front of them.. they'll often ask me why im not eating and I just shake off the question and change the subject, If I do eat in front of them then someone for sure points out that im actually eating and that just makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. most times i'll end up eating in the bathroom and that's only in extreme cases like if im feeling dizzy or so. I just don't understand why my friends are so comfortable eating and every time I try in front of them I just feel all fat..
—Guest Sarah

It's ridiculous

I didn't realize how out of hand this had gotten until I got to college. I haven't had three square meals in a day since starting here. Somedays I'll eat nothing at all. In high school I brought a lunch and ate in a classroom with just a few close friends. I simply can't bring myself to go to my university's dining halls. I don't have an eating disorder. It doesn't take self control. I simply can't bring myself to: A) Eat by myself in a crowded place or B) Eat with anyone I'm not close with. If I do find it in me to go to the dining hall alone, I have to get a takeout box and bring food back to my room. There have been times I've gone on dates and began feeling physically ill with every bite because I stressed myself out so much. It's effecting every aspect of my life and I'm losing weight rapidly. I'm tired of living this way. It's unnatural.
—Guest J

its awful

I am 15 and i feel so panicky and agitated to the point at school I'll sometimes go 6-7 hours without food because im afraid ill get food on my face a make a horribly embarrassing sound whilst chewing so if I do eat it will only be something easy like a chocolate bar but it's still difficult for me to eat it, it literally affects my health I'll become fatigued from the lack of food which then leads to problems concentrating. God damn food why you do this to me :(
—Guest iamwhoiam

My daughter won't eat in front of us

My daughter refuses to eat in front of anyone but her boyfriend. She has become obsessed with her weight, how she looks and what others think of her. Rational thoughts don't seem to enter into the discussion. This site helped me understand that she is not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. What surprises me most is why you care so much about what people think of you. My daughter's every waking moment seems to be about how people judge her. How did people get over this? Logically speaking there is no reason to care. Basically people will judge her whether she likes it or not. She needs to develope a tougher attitude and not care. It's a sort of spiral when you stop eating in front of people, because you make it into a big deal, when you stop. And then you can't start again because it has become a big deal if you change. My daughter now has an eating disorder. We are now just days away from medical intervention. How do you break this stupid circle?
—Guest Dad

I hate it

When ever I try to eat it feels like i'm full all the time. It's hard to eat..I can't even enjoy the food I use to
—Guest Alexis
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