Feeling sick when eating in public? - Anxiety Support

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Feeling sick when eating in public?


Whenever I have to eat in public, I have the fear of getting sick and throwing u . This is not in all social situations, just ones where I have to eat. I get so scared that I might get sick that I actually cause myself stomach ache and nausea so that I am not able to eat. How do I control this as I'm going off to college soon and I'm scared it will only get worse.

26 Replies

I'm sorry to hear you're struggling. I used to get this quite often, and I know it can make you feel really overwhelmed sometimes, but you can do little things to calm yourself.

I often carry ginger candy in my bag because sucking on a sweet can sometimes help prepare you, and finger is really great for the physiological, digestive symptoms of anxiety.

You can also try eating small things that you know for sure you really like and can handle, its okay to gradually build up to eating a full meal in public.

If your anxiety is really high when you are out to eat, you can also try breathing and distraction exercises to stabilise. Try counting to 30, breathing calmly and deeply if you can, and thinking only of the numbers and your breath. when you reach 30, start again if you need to, until you feel calmer.

And remember, everyone has to eat and look after themselves and you are not doing anything wrong in the slightest!

Take care and good luck!

My god!! I thought I was alone in this battle. You are probably never going to read this but I have the same problem it's making me insane. I have had it for 7 months now. I really hope that your better now as I know this can be very frustrating and horrible issue. I really don't know what to do anymore. It's making my life to crumble. I am always so stressed because if am at home it's fine I never feel sick. But anywhere else I eat I feel super anxious and I think the food going to make me throw up or something. And even if I don't think about it or try it's always there behind my mind. This is really a punishment for me.

in reply to Sillysock

I need to sort it out. Thank god someone is alive on this thread.

in reply to Dillz

It all started with my exams recently. Ever since I can't control it. :(

Hi I'm so glad I found you guys, because I've been going through the exact same thing and it brings me down everytime. I had in in between high school and college, and was constantly anxious and especially nauseous when I think of large events like prom or graduation, and also eating in public places somehow I just feel nauseous and can't eat, where at home I'm completely fine and can eat normally.

Been having thing for about two and a half years, overtime I learned so many things bout myself and learned how to overcome this slowly. I had all the support but none of them ever helped that much besides my own action to overcoming it. What I did was started slowly eating in public, essential oils helped keep me from depression and sometimes helped, but truth be told I went through every crappy food outing. I didn't eat, I watched them eat and sometimes pick small foods here and there when I feel a little okay. I map out the bathroom and have a backup plan for when I need to throw up.

After a year of constantly forcing myself to go out to meals, I start picking off my friends/family plate or sometimes sharing with them makes me feel a shit ton better. It sucks everytime but I did it and I promise you, it literally gets better each time. I'm not gonna sugar coat, you are forever going to feel nauseous as heck before going out and there's gonna be nothing to ease that besides drugs, but you got to do it. You have to step out of your comfort zone for the first time, and second, and third and so on and each time it gets easier and you can eat more and more. After the 2.5 year mark I manage to actually eat out, I don't eat as much as I usually do and prevent myself from being really full but i do, and mainly I prefer ordering dishes so I could pick how much I can eat and put em on my plate, little by little. Yes I still feel anxious but I'm at the point where I know I won't throw up, and I wouldn't get an attack. The feeling sucks but I still do it though it's so so so much easier than what I went through a year ago.

I just want to say that I've been where you have and it gets better. I know everybody says it and it makes you go 'they're just being positive they don't know anything' but man it gets better, it pays off. You learn to overcome by constant stepping out of your comfort zone and you do it often enough that it soon begins becoming your comfort zone. I feel so blessed to be able to see myself recover after 2 years, and now I live raising awareness of mental illness. I wish you all the best of luck and you are never alone. Push through, and live to tell others suffering from anxiety how you managed to do it! Also tell your parents cause they will do nothing but help. Good luck!

The worst part is I'm in college so cannot leave the classroom easily. Being surrounded by everyone for a whole hour doesn't help. I tried not eating at lunch but that makes my stomach rumble and only increases anxiety.

I'm in college too, honestly I've learnt to hold my hunger for very long hours, I eat breakfast, and hold it until I get home to have a full meal. During the hours, maybe you could try eating smaller foods, ones that are less threatening, such as nuggets or fries. Remember that you don't HAVE to finish them, just take one and if you feel comfortable, take another. Sometimes I text while eating and it helps distract my mind a little bit. Good luck!

Good idea! The advice is useful. Just curious, did you get it through your exams (GCSE's or what not) too?

Yep, I got through GCSEs and the Mock exams. Actually during one of the exams I had an anxiety attack and wanted to back out, I couldn't take it despite knowing the importance of the paper. In the end though, my teacher calmed me down and told me that they will put a dustbin beside my table in case I needed to throw up, and let me sit by the back so I could run out anytime. They were very sweet and checking up on me constantly, I hope they do the same for you!

No sadly. I had an attack during my first English literatureexam. I enquired about it and because they didn't realise what it was; offered me water. That's all. As a result I missed about 45min. Afterwards I contacted the school and they said they'd "sort it out" (not sure they will). Over the next exams I managed to get over it by controlling my breathing so I never had it again. But the fear of it occuring is enough to throw you off anyway. Hope the rest of your exams went well!

I really appreciate you for your time to write to ous, thank you for that. I will do what you say, Because this is ruining my life. I just want to wake up and be good again. Every time my friends invite me to go out I refuse because I have always been a fat ass= I love to eat. And when I go out I always get hungry but am to scared to eat and get sick, it's a really bad feeling. But I will force myself from now on. If you say it worked for you, I need to try it. Thank you again

Do you recon you got the anxiety from being worried about not finishing your meal? And like, when your full, you would still see that there is more food on your plate and feel like you have to finish it?

Even I'm suffering with the same condition. I couldn't get any better. Please help me get over.

in reply to Sillysock

Hi I have the same problem. Everything is ok at home but once I go out to eat it hits me I can't eat at all. Then when I get back home I'm fine again .

Ugh I have the same issue too.It's like,I'm hungry but the moment I eat when I'm ohtside,I feel like I'm going to throw up.But I can eat just fine when I'm at home

I also get this every time I eat but i dont feel anxiety so it's a bit confusing... i do have alot of anxiety but not when it comes to food. So weird..

I had exactly the same fear as I have such a bad phobia of being sick in public. This lasted up until December last year which was when I started to feel better. I paid for therapy, had all sorts of things, CBT etc and nothing worked unfortunately because exactly the same as you, I just physically couldn't eat because I was so anxious and already felt nauseous because of it. I'm really sorry to hear you're suffering from the same thing, it is so horrible and makes social situations so difficult, I got to the point where I couldn't go in public regardless of whether I was eating or not, just in case I was sick.

In August 2014 I finally decided nothing would work apart from medication after missing out on a family holiday because of this (I was to scared to take medication in case it made me sick). I went to th doctors and got some sertraline 50mg, I took 25mg for a week then moved up to 50mg, now nearly a year later I'm on 100mg daily, and take domperidone before eating to stop me feeling sick if I do. It is the best decision I have ever made, I've got my life back, have a job, can eat in public and am so so much happier, I would recommend sertraline to anyone, it takes a little while to work but the wait it so worth it.

I'm sorry I can't give better advice other than medication but I know exactly how you're feeling and it is so awful. I would definitely also recommend domperidone and starting to eat small amounts in public first and build your way up.

Hope you feel better soon,

LAN xxx

Do you have a fear of vomiting, or just doing it in public?

in reply to Terry1209

It's a mix of both for me. I will start to feel anxious about throwing up and then the fact I'm in public accentuates that feeling to a very large extent

Hi! I don't know if this thread is still alive but I thank all the gods when I found this thread. I have a bad anxiety when I was a kid but I forgot all of it when I was in highschool. I was living a normal life and I can say that it was the time of my life but when I went to uni it all came back to me. I always feel anxious and I feel like I wanna throw up when I'm outside my home. I feel perfectly normal when I'm staying in my house but once I step outside I feel terrible. I thought I was getting better since I managed to finish my college degree but again my life turned upside down when I started working. I can't eat outside, the idea of food makes me feel sick and to top it all, I was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) I don't really worry about the cancer since it really doesn't affect my daily life except for the meds I need to take but my main concern is I really cannot manage to eat outside, no one knows about this and I can no longer meet my friends because of this. I felt like I'm gonna be alone with this battle, I can't also share this with my parents, I'm afraid they might think I'm crazy. This is so weird, I thought I was the only one in this world who suffers this kind of anxiety. BTW aside from feeling nauseous sometimes I also feel the urge to poop but the nausea is worse. I just want to live like a normal person.

Hey there!

I think this thread isn't alive anymore but I happen to stumble across it again a year later, and realized that I've replied on this thread before. It's been almost 4 years and I'm still suffering from this exact same situation, and it got worse after I had a panic attack in a recent exam.

I'm so sorry to hear that you're suffering from the exact same thing I am. I know, and everyone know how much this incredibly sucks and I would never wish it on my worse enemy. I know how you feel, exactly. Everything you described, I feel too. I haven't properly ate a full meal in a public restaurant in years, and for a few months I haven't eaten even a single bite in a public restaurant at all. Everytime I try to, like you, I feel sick and it's caused by the fear of vomiting. However, at home I feel totally ok and that's because I know that if I need to throw up, the bathroom is right there. I'm stuck in a cycle, where whenever I go out I fear throwing up in public > this fear gets me anxious and nauseous > I throw up and live my fear > this experience contributes to future trips to a restaurant. It really sucks.

I'm also incredibly sorry that you also have been diagnosed with cancer. I cannot imagine what hardship you are going through at the moment, but I can guarantee you are not alone at all. Not even for a second! I think maybe you should tell your parents, and they might understand. My parents are pretty old fashioned and they never understood what mental illness is, until one day I broke down in a restaurant and told them what I've been going through. It took me about 6 months to finally tell them that I've been dealing with this. I think telling your parents is a good first step, and it's a good thing you can do for yourself. Like my parents, yours might not understand at first or even brush it away (like mine did) but after awhile they will understand a little bit more and more about what you're going through and will try and help you. You are definitely not crazy though, I hope you know this!

I will try and check this thread more often, in case you decide to reply, although your comment was a month ago. I don't know you but I need to make sure you know you aren't alone in this. I am also incredibly glad I've found people who understands exactly what I go through. Nobody I know in person gets me.

I have this same problem it’s been developing slowly for 10 years and just gets worse and then I was diagnosed with rectal cancer and getting through the treatment for that helped a little with constant nausea but now my anxiety is worse than ever and the nausea seems to follow the anxiety. I am going to try olanzapine again I think it was helping but just made me so sleepy so maybe if I take it at night it will help. Apparently it’s an anti psychotic with an off label anti nausea effect that works well for chemo patients. But it’s nice to know it’s not just me.

Glad I'm not the only one going through this intense battle, because nobody seems to get me. I feel your pain and hope things improve because its like I can't even live a normal life (8th and 9th grade were horrible, now I'm starting 10th in virtual school, but not completely because of this particular problem though). Sometimes I struggle to even eat breakfast because I fear having to go out into public later, and wait until the end of the day to eat, that is, my symptom gets worse to the point of throwing up (I'm frequently nauseous/bloated after eating even if I'm not nervous) when I'm in a social situation, exercising, and/or anxious.

Despite that, not only have I been dealing with this, but I've been having diarrhea almost daily; decreased appetite (yes, even in comfortable situations); constipation; and some PERHAPS unrelated problems of extremely dry, peeling skin (on my hands, can't say the same about my face or or back, lol); an itchy, brittle scalp filled with flakes; fatigue that makes me feel lifeless and distant; and insomnia which keeps me up until the wee hours of the morning. All of this is very overwhelming and has gotten in the way of my life quite a lot. I'm thinking most of these could possibly be symptoms of hypothyroidism, but I have some doubts, as the possibilities are limitless and don't even need to involve a disease to begin with, or could involve multiple factors, not just one.

On a side note, thyroid problems do run in my family, and even then, my mom tells me that it's all in my mind, but I think that it's possible that there's a root cause behind all this that is only made worse by my thoughts. I might've left something out, but I think I spoke enough. Wish me luck if you guys ever look back at this thread, and good luck!

Hope this thread is still alive too and someone sees this. I was on vacation with my girlfriend recently and much the same as every one else on this post, I first felt fine at home! No issues at all, and frankly I've been handling my anxiety and depression pretty well these last few years. I'm not on anything for it and haven't been able to get back to therapy because of time, money, and insurance issues. However, this vacation proved me wrong and that I've still got a ways to go.

We went out the first night we got in, obviously. Wanted some beer, get loose and have a good time. My girlnand I both ordered beer, no issues with that, but when the food came, I took two bites and instantly felt nauseous. Hot feeling in my head, upset and blocked stomach, nervous feeling, etc. Everyone is different but the symptoms are similar in this.

Same thing next night, and then in the mornings when I would wake up, same thing. I was feeling nauseous both because I wasn't eating enough and because I couldn't in public. This was news to me and never really realized it. Now I'm worried I'll never be able to travel without having to go to an urgent care or a doctor and worrying I'm seriously sick. I'm a skinny guy anyways, and not eating is def not good for me. I felt tired, lethargic and was afraid to go back out again. My girl was so understanding of this and pushed me to go to urgent care and find out from a pro what may be going on. And because I don't have insurance, I was hesitant. But we went, and for reference of those looking for some advice, here's what the doctor told me directly.

Came and asked "so it's just nausea huh?' after I had sat with a woman for ten minutes telling her all my symptoms and past medical issues.

I said no, there were some other concerns too. He checked me out and did a quick physical, didn't feel any lymph nodes swelling, and see anything weird in my throat, nothing. He then said , listen I don't really know what to tell you.

-told me if I smoke marijuana, which I did, that that may have an effect on someone who's more of a home body and cause agoraphobia (fear of leaving the home). This not being able to eat in public is one of those agoraphobic signs. We can eat just fine at home, because it's home.

-asked me about my job, I had three at the time and was constantly busy and not eating regularly. That attributes to this too he says. It's better to eat small portions you know you can handle four or five times a day, rather than force yourself to eat three full meals. Make yourself a plan you're comfortable with.

-he also told me that exercise is something that has always been proven to help reduce anxiety and stress, thus also inducing hunger similtanously. For me it's basketball, or walking. You don't need to be a gym buff, just get some outdoor time for yourself.

-counseling and anxiety meds. I was apprehensive to this since I'd already been on Paxil for a semester in college and hated it. But there is trial and error with this stuff. I loved therapy, but once I lost my insurance I couldn't keep going. However I will look into some meds that are reduced cost and see what I can get. Maybe a simple ssri you take as needed in preparation for those anxious moments. Either way there are options.

At the end of this, he said that's about as much as I can tell you. And while this ten minute visit cost me 150$, he at least sent me home with some Zofran for the nausea. That actually helped big time at night and allowed me to actually eat a full plate at dinner the last night! No sick feeling at all! I was relieved. My plan is now to reset, cut back on my bad habits, and try to live healthier.

Guys, people like us don't have a lot of folks who understand what we go through. Feeling sad for no reason, feeling scared for no reason, etc. Well now it also apparently makes us feel sick for no reason too, and that sucks. But there are ways to fight it and keep pushing forward. I didn't even no I had anxiety about eating out until this happened and it honestly makes sense for me.

Hope this helps someone, feel good everyon


Not sure if this thread is still alive, but I would like to share with you all my experience with this issue. My apologies for the long post but I want to share with you my experience....

It first started when I was in elementary school. Where I believe I ate too much and vomited during lunch. I guess all the negative attention I had received made this a traumatic experience and I soon began to develop this fear of vomiting while eating in public. This included restaurants, family parties, friend’s homes, etc. I was only able to eat comfortably at home. It then developed into the inability to eat prior to going out in public or before events such as (Dental/doctor appointments, music lessons, Recitals, school events, etc.). I would literally begin feeling anxious leaving the house and start dry heaving and potentially vomiting. To bypass this I would not leave the house till I was hungry or schedule appointments before breakfast. If I had eaten A meal at home and then my parents wanted to go somewhere or if something unplanned happened where we would have to leave the house I would immediately start getting anxious And start gagging and then vomiting. It got to the point where my parents did not know what to do and signed me up to see a therapist. At that young age, I was unable to articulate how I felt and just told the therapist I felt “stressed out.” I was given some relaxation and breathing techniques to listen to and follow. These in combination with the therapy session somewhat helped.

However, the symptoms lingered till high school where they would resurface during class potlucks, presentations, and even during lunch periods. I rarely ate out with friends and when I did I would first locate the bathroom and then attempt to eat and hope that I can keep the food down. Sometimes I would just start gagging and run to the bathroom other times I would get away with taking a small bite and taking the rest home. The symptoms started goin away around senior year, but soon resurfaced when I first started dating. I would never go out on dates that required eating, so it was movies or just staying in. It started to get really bad during prom and finals weeks. I was too scared to eat in fear of something unscheduled would pop up. I was very underweight 114lbs at 5’6” really frail.

I started college with still the same anxieties. Fear of eating in public, fear of eating before events, and fear of having eaten but then an unexpected event occurring. I just learned to avoid eating outside of home and to plan around eating. If an unexpected event occurred, and I had eaten, I would avoid that event at all costs. Once I started drinking, I noticed that I could eat normally when tipsy. I had no issues with going to restaurants with friends as long as I could drink. I would be anxious going, but after chugging a strong cocktail, I would feel totally at ease and eat everything. I would even order multiple entrees, something I would never do when sober. I thought I had found the cure, not the healthiest, but it allowed me to be normal. I was able to do this until I started having the same issues even when drunk. I then decided to see a psychiatrist over the summer of Junior year. I was prescribed Zoloft, but immediately suffered from increased anxiety and irritability. It was also during this time my family had hit a major financial issue and I was forced to work. I stopped taking the medications and never followed up with the therapist. I hated work at first, but soon grew accustomed. I rarely ate lunch, and when I did it would be in my car. But after time I started eating A small meal with coworkers and then eventually larger meals. To the point where I was able to go out to dinner a couple times with them. I also started gymming which increased my appetite even more. I also began to go out with my roommates and eat more often without drinking. I Still avoided dinner dates, and still planned around eating, but I felt like I was fairly normal.

This continued through graduation. And post graduation. The only times I would feel major anxiety with eating was after a night of drinking and having a major hangover, where anxiety mixed with the intense nausea from the hangover made it impossible for me to eat and almost always vomiting at the restaurant. Around this time I started dating my current girlfriend of 5 years, we barely went on dinner dates, but I would still try to take her out. My anxiety issues began to resurface once again preventing us from enjoying nice dinners with friends and family’s. Eating out was never the norm. Never ate with her family at restaurants only at home. She would want to eat out at certain places, but she knew I would not enjoy it so she kept it to herself. And this made me feel even more terrible, but she stuck with me.

Fast forward to the present, symptoms are even worse. I can barely eat when out at a restaurant. There is high anxiety when sitting at the table. Even after drinking alcohol. I start gagging and have to run to the bathroom. I am now starting to have anxiety when Ubers/Lyfts are involved. The thought of being in a car that is not mine and vomiting makes me highly anxious. Riding an Uber to a bar after eating makes me anxious and I start gagging while waiting for it. I still avoid unexpected events after eating. I avoid eating before going into public. The only place I can eat comfortably is at home. I tried to explain all these issues to my friends. They understand, but they tell me to just stay positive and not worry so much. I am both frustrated and embarrassed. I feel that I cannot provide my girlfriend with the normal relationship she deserves. I feel like I have let this anxiety issue dictate my entire life. I do not feel like I am in control. I have decided that I want to see a psychiatrist again and try a different medication. No breathing techniques, exercise, meditation had been able to cure this issue. I am just fed up with it and want to be normal, but more importantly give my girlfriend a normal happy relationship.

My apologies again for the long post. But I wanted to accurately describe what I have been living with for 20+ years of my life and how it has shaped me. I am somewhat relieved that others have this same problem. However, I need to find a resolution. I want to control this anxiety.

i’ve just sat and read all of these replies because i’ve never seen this many people talk about the same issue i have so i feel a lot better about myself now :) i also have never commented on one of these before but i felt i had too because i feel so similar to others on here.

i’m 19 and have had this type of anxiety for the majority of my life literally since i was 4/5. i happen to be looking it up tonight because i’m losing hope with it.

i only told my mum about my anxiety summer of 2017, and for the past two years have been speaking to my school councillor which has helped. however i’ve left school now and have no one to talk to about it. i hardly ever go out with my friends, i hate going out after i’ve eaten, i don’t like to do many social things and i have lost so many friends because of it. it has got a lot better tho, for a while when i was about 14 i couldn’t leave the house, i only left the house to go to school and i would throw up at the thought of leaving. in fact one week i woke up nauseous and threw up every morning just in case i had to leave the house. it was a very very dark time and my mum asked me if i wanted to speak to someone about it (she didn’t know the full extent) and i said no, because i was anxious about going somewhere new (i really regret saying no looking back). after that i kept it all to myself and it was so horrible. friends thought i was anorexic because i wouldn’t eat much and would throw up and i became so anxious at school that i would spend every lesson worrying in case someone was going to offer me food and i would panic every time i walked into the lunch hall.

perseverance is so important though because although i was terrified of eating lunch at school it began to become easier. i forced myself to go into the lunch hall everyday and eventually i could eat more and more. i didn’t let myself miss school because of it, so if anyone is reading this, it is possible to get over something.

however i haven’t spoken to a professional in 3 months and i’m beginning to get nervous about seeing friends and i watch people the same age as me go to lots of social things and hang out with their friends and family and i’m nothing like that. i really liked a guy for a while and he asked me out and i said no because i was so scared which has made me lose so much hope in finding a boyfriend. everyone knows me as the confident, smiley, talkative girl but i am far from that deep down. a friend once said to me that my life must be so easy which made me feel so sad. i almost want to say to everyone “give me credit i’m trying my hardest it’s not my fault i can’t do the same things as everyone else”. i want to invite people to do things and go out for meals and go on trips with my friends but i know i won’t be at that point for a very long time.

for anyone reading this, you really aren’t alone and i am sorry you have to go through this, i honestly feel like the biggest burden to people and i feel crap all the time because of it but at least none of us are alone.

my one piece of advice is speak to a professional, just saying thoughts out loud is so therapeutic and a professional can help you think of things differently, it was the best thing i’ve ever done for myself.

oh and another thing, think of it as if your brain is powerful enough to affect your body in a way that it is terrified of situations and it is able to make you physically sick then your brain is clearly powerful enough to create a new way of thinking of things and make these scary situations feel normal, it just takes time.

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