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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

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? Share Your Experiences

Anxiety

I am 14. I don't hav any trouble eating in front of my family or close friends. However I started having a fear of eating in front of people when I was eating w my stepdads parents who are very wealthy and classy. I made a fool of myself and ever since I feel like I am being judged on how I eat and the way I look when I am eating. I feel self conscious ab my methods of even just cutting my food. Or getting food on my face. Or fitting larger bits into my mouth. Eating salad is a real struggle bc it looks even stupid to cut lettuce ik just isn't going to fit in my mouth. I also hav a fear of ordering food in front of people. I feel like I'm ordering too much, not pronouncing food correctly, or just sounding too immature. I only get like this in public settings or around people I'm trying to impress. I already hav anxiety ab impressing ppl (or the lack there of). I really want help to get over this! I want to be able to eat w my bf and his family but at this rate I just can't! Please help
—Guest Carrie

I hate eating at my school

I hate eating in front of people at my school (I'm 4'2 130lbs) and in front of guys,and sometimes at restaurants with my family
—Guest AlyssaMb

I wish I could eat

So I've have a boyfriend for 2 months now and I've already met his parents. At dinner his mum cooked pizza, chips and salad. I was offered pizza first so I had to take a slice! I passed on chips because I didn't want it to seem like I was eatin loads and I just don't like salad. I took tiny bites and it took like 15 minutes to eat one slice! I also can not eat in school. All my friends go to the canteen to get food, I stay at my locker alone until they come back. I hate going to the canteen because I feel as if people will think I'm getting food.. All of my friends know I just can't eat unless I'm forced to! They offer each other food and already know to skip me because I'll pass! I see other people eating and wonder how they do it! I'm taller than my friends, which makes me feel bigger so I don't like eating chocolate, crisps ect infront of them because I feel fat around them. I also eat slow so it doesn't look like I'm loving the food.
—Guest I'mhungry

Me too

Thank goodness I found this website. Really. I thought I was the only one having this problem. I'm 18 years old. I thought I'm so weird, a freak. I kept asking myself what is wrong with me. Everytime I eat in public I just keep chewing but I cant swallow. I end up not finishing my meal which is so embarassing. They will say I waste food. I feel nervous and my hands will shake. I have anxiety but when it comes to eating in front of people the feelings are horrible. I feel hopeless. I don't want to feel like this anymore. It has been 2 years now. I want to go back to my old self - enjoying meals with my friends. Nowadays I avoid going out with my friends for meals because of this problem. Now my friends thinks I'm so anti-social. I live in an Asia country. To be honest, if I tell people about my problem they will just think I'm a freak. They don't seem to accept 'different' people. Thank you all. At least now I don't feel so alone. Good luck. We'll all get through this.
—Guest Liyan

This might help

I still battle this issue- but at one point or another you're going to have to eat in front I someone. What helps me is taking tiny bits- my biggest fear of eating in front of people is fear of choking and getting the food all over my face. If you take smaller bites it's win win! Also on dates try going with a group of people. I always double up with my brother and his girlfriend. That way having someone comfortable around helps ease the anxiety. And his humor helps take that away too. But really when push comes to shove- as hard as it is for us- guys dont care how you eat- they're just glad you said yes to the date!
—Guest Mandy

people that stare a lot when I'm eating

I have the same problem I can't even eat in from of mu cuzins no more because they stare a lot and is not only them but boys that I like but I think that people that stare a lot should Stop is normal to eat but if your just going to be staring than get out you make people feel uncomfortable to eat :/
—Guest Hate 097

Same here.

I've also developed a thing where I cannot eat in front of others. I'm in college and I cannot eat in front of my roommate and her boyfriend. I don't like them and they already make me uncomfortable since they judge literally everyone. So I just never eat in the room anymore unless they're gone.
—Guest Sara

ADVICE

Im 16 and i kind of feel the same way. What helps me is eating and not looking up. And to not be distacted , put some music in you ear or talk to a friend.
—Guest Kamyra

Fear of eating w/others

Lived with this for a long time. For me, it is a combination of SA, fear of intimacy, and lack of trust. I lost a boyfriend and suffered a trauma because of SA and a fear of eating in front of others. Very short back story: Went on vacation with BF and his family. Declined eating with them. He spent the remaining 6 days abusing me with the silent treatment; the 8 others on the trip avoided me as well. I was trapped; no way to get home on my own. A 144 hour social anxiety nightmare. I have come to believe that I fear eating WITH others, not in front of them. That if I eat with them, it is a form of SHARING. Eating with others is to sit WITH them, eat WITH them, SHARE a meal. It makes me vulnerable, I feel exposed. It isn't the possible smudge of mustard on my face that I fear, it is the possible ridicule that I fear. So, for me, it is both social anxiety/phobia and a fear of intimacy.
—Guest Kathy

Twitchy

Praise the Lord that I'm not alone. It's really quite embarrassing. Just about 2 days ago my dad and I went to a Peruvian Restaurant and we ordered a ceviche (fish platter) to share. When the bread got to the table I broke a piece for myself and I couldn't lift it to my mouth. I was too scared that my hand would twitch and my neck would cause my head to twitch as well. I told my dad that I wasn't feeling well, and that my stomach was acting up. My dad had to ask for them to pack the food to go. I was so embarrassed, I began to tear up in the car. I just wanted this to stop and never happen again in my life. It sucks. I feel like the people around me are observing me, and if I'm eating and how I eat. Sometimes I just feel like shouting, "what??! Is your food that boring you gotta stare at mine,!" I eat perfectly fine at home, but when in public I get so scared to use utensils, that I try to order sandwiches or burgers so that I can use both hands and my elbows on the table for suppor
—Guest Francisco

i cant eat in front of anybody

I have social anxiety and I always feel like people are looking at me and judging me, I also hate being watched while doing something. The worst thing is being watched while I'm eating. At dinner time when I eat at the table with my family I always feel nervous. I sometimes don't eat until everyone else leaves the room, my dad gets mad at me sometimes because I never eat in front of anyone. Most nights I take my food in my room and eat in my room where nobody can see me. I can't eat at school either, the only place I can eat is in my room where nobody can see me.
—Guest sophie

I can't eat in front if boys

This is too hard .... To.... Explain.... I just want to cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mommmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!
—Guest Help me please

I can't do it

Well I have a boyfriend and we have been dating for about a week now. I can't eat in front of him though!!! It's so hard thats why I stopped eating at school now. And he sits right next to me at our lunch table!! Someone please help me!!!! I'm only 11 years old in 6th grade!!! Please help! My friends are like " why aren't you eating? Is it because of that stupid boyfriend of yours?! He is stupid and annoying!!!" It makes me really sad and my grades are going down and I'm hungry all the time and I'm so embarrassed!!!!! Please anyone!!! Just HELP!!!!!! :.............(
—Guest M

i know

I'm shocked to see I'm not the only one with this eating in public problem. I can eat in front of my family with out the slightest insecurities because its like food is what brings us together. But I cannot eat in front of friends or co workers or boyfriends. It feels like people are staring at my mouth and thinking I'm a fat person. I start to feel insecure about people automatically looking at my butt or some other part. Also when I eat in front of a boy I feel insecure that they look at my mouth and think of sexual things. Like how much I can put in my mouth. Its very strange. I wasn't always like this, this didn't happen until I was 13. I'm 18 now. Although I did have an eating disorder when my parents divorced. I know its a mind thing but its so very hard not to have these thoughts fill my head when I eat. I have a nice athletic body but I want people to think I don't scarf my mouth like a fat cow. Thank you for everyone's stories!
—Guest nikolette

It just scares me

It seems like I just can't eat around certain people. Most of my family I'm fine with, and some of my closest friends. But whenever I'm around other people, I start to have anxiety attacks. I am very aware of my social anxiety. This probably is the reason for why I'm afraid to eat around others. Even when I'm with my boyfriend, I just can't. It's not entirely the fear of spilling something on my self or whatever. But I realized that this is more noticeable when I am around guys. Adding to my social anxiety, I am very self conscious. I get afraid of what someone might say about what I'm eating or whatever. I have also been told that I'm underweight (5ft 6 and 95lbs). Maybe this fear is what causes me not to want to eat, even when I'm not around people I'm afraid to eat in front of.
—Guest Scarlette

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