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Anxiety Support
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Social anxiety - food

Hi, I have no formal diagnosis but I feel I have elements of social anxiety. Eating in public is my biggest issue. I find it extremely difficult to successfully finish a full meal in front of people I know or don’t know, completely depending on who the company may be. I am fine eating with family and close friends either at home or in a restaurant. However I find my anxiety is at its height the closer it gets to meal times, especially at work (I am a teacher). I worry 15 minutes or so before lunch starts. I fear I will choke, make a mess with my food, vomit, people staring and judging me etc and I have to get to the staff room first because I know fewer people will be in there early. I rush my lunch to the point of indigestion if there is nobody in there but the busier it gets the worse I feel. It doesn’t help that the staff room is very small so I feel I am sat on top of everyone. I feel like I will be sick and my throat closes up. I make excuses of ‘I had a big breakfast’ or ‘this tastes bad’ to cover up the fact I can’t eat. I sometimes take my lunch and eat alone but I don’t want to isolate myself. I end up wasting my food when nobody is looking by binning it. I am ravenous when I get home and I tend to eat a lot of junk when I get in from work to fill me quickly. I have no urges to bring the food back up suggesting I have an eating disorder.

Eating out is even worse - at social events I tend to drink more before a meal so it distracts me from the eating. I mess with the food on my plate and come up with even more excuses. It upsets me that I see everyone else eating normally and clearing their plates. What strikes me the most is that I never stop myself from going anywhere, rather I deal with the situation very badly when I am in it. Does anyone know any tips on how to overcome this fear? Thank you 😊

5 Replies

I am 63 and have had the same issue with eating out all my life ,I avoid eating out even with family and have made all the same excuses you have.I just tense all up and can't swallow the food.I hope you will get some good advise on here.when I had CBT treatment my therapist said to keep going out by myself and practice eating out ,go out and have a biscuit and coffee she said.then next time a sandwich then a meal ! But I couldn't.I now just tell friends when they invite me out.....sorry I don't like eating out end of.


I am going to look at self help CBT, thank you. It makes me so sad seeing everyone around me thoroughly enjoy what ever they eat!


Here is my observation of people in restaurants.

People are self focused, about, themselves, how they look, or what they are eating that almost nobody ever looks up at anybody else and judges them.

I used to be freakishly afraid to eat in a restaurant at a table in the middle of the restaurant. It was crazy.

I would get so tense that sometimes I would have to hold on to the table to make sure I would not fall or fly away.

My request was to always be near a wall or tucked away out of sight. One day while tucked away and comfortable I started to look around and noticed that absolutely nobody was looking any anybody else in the restaurant.

After that observation, I can now eat in a restaurant alone, and never give it a second thought.


You’re right, I hope I can learn to change my mindset. Thank you!


I have the same issue, it does get better because you eventually won’t have time do think about it if you are so hungry. The reality is you won’t choke! As long as you chew your food up good you will be fine. I understand how you feel you are not alone


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