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.

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15 Replies

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  • 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.

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

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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

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