Fear of eating in public – A brief guide to understanding why is so difficult for some people to eat in public.
In this guide, we will discuss the reasons why a person has a fear of eating in public and how to overcome it.
Fear of eating in public
One of the activities a person enjoys most is eating. Eating for many is a pleasure and is one of the basic needs outlined in the Maslow pyramid. We cannot survive without food and apart from being a basic necessity, it is a way of getting to know cultures. One of the characteristic things of a country is its food.
When you travel to another country one of the first things you think about is in its gastronomy. You wonder how it will be, what are the ingredients they use the most and how to prepare their food. Once there, you try and you are already knowing more about that place.
We eat with friends, family and with anyone with whom we can have a good time, food is an excellent excuse to meet people and have a good time. Christmas parties, birthdays or any similar activity includes food and this is something we enjoy.
Some people do not enjoy eating much, and it is not so much that they do not like to eat but where they do. There are people who develop such a strong panic of food-related actions in which they fear eating certain foods in front of people or simply that someone sees them eat. In this case, we could say that these are people who have a fear of eating in public.
This might surprise you a little, but there are people who have a fear of eating in public. The reasons are diverse, but there are people who have a great fear of being seen eating in public. There are situations where a person cannot avoid eating in public. For example, if you are at work and you must go to the dining room where others are, you cannot avoid being seen by others and this causes you great anxiety. In the case that a person is in a restaurant, it cannot prevent others from being in the place and possibly seeing it eat.
In many cases the person not only fears that they will see it eat, but it also thinks that it will be judged for what it is eating, causing even more anxiety and fear of eating in public.
The person when it is afraid of eating in public avoids any activity where it can be seen eating in front of other people. They reject any social activity to simply not have to deal with the symptoms caused by eating in public. Over time it loses contact with friends and family as it rejects any activity that involves eating and being around other people.
The person who is afraid of eating in public lives with constant stress knowing that there are situations where it has to eat in front of others and spends its time thinking about how not to do it. Many times these behaviours can interfere with their daily activities.
To better understand where fear of eating comes from in public, it is important to analyze the reasons why a person develops this fear.
Reasons why a person has a fear of eating in public
A person can develop a fear of eating in public for several reasons. One of the reasons why a person is afraid of eating in public is because they have social phobia. Social phobia or social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by a persistent fear of one or more social situations for fear of being embarrassing.
The person with social phobia avoids eating in public because it is afraid that this action may result in something that can make it look ridiculous. The person thinks that it can get stuck with food, that it can vomit if what it eats doesn’t like it or any situation that involves shameful acts with food.
Someone who has social phobia may have symptoms of sweating, tremor, palpitations, blushing and nausea. If someone is eating where there are people, they may feel these symptoms and to the point of not being able to eat anything because of how they feel.
Another reason why a person has a fear of eating in public is that they suffered or suffered from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are those where the person has harmful behaviours with food, that is, their behaviour at mealtime may not be beneficial for their health.
The person with an eating disorder can generate fear of eating in public because if he has anorexia he will avoid eating at all costs. If you are with a group of friends and see that you are eating little, they may ask you what it is and the person may feel uncomfortable and in many cases, you will prefer social groups where there is food so that this behaviour does not manifest.
In the case of the person with bulimia, it can eat a lot due to one of the symptoms that is binge eating, but then once, at home, it will try to vomit everything. People with bulimia also try to avoid eating in public so as not to be in the situation of having to vomit later.
When a person has an eating disorder see eating as their worst enemy. It is afraid of eating weight so it will try at all costs not to eat and lose weight no matter what measures he has to take.
There is another reason why a person develops the fear of eating in public and is due to cibophobia. Cyclophobia is a mental disorder where the person is afraid of eating. This disorder differs from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia because its causes are not only for aesthetic reasons.
The person with cibophobia is afraid to eat for various reasons such as avoiding eating certain foods due to the nutritional values they have, such as these can influence their weight, fear of eating food and dying due to intoxication. The person who is afraid to eat keeps analyzing each food it intends to eat and even being sure that the food is healthy and will not cause it any harm, it finds it difficult to digest it.
Other reasons why a person may have fear of eating in public may be unrelated to a specific mental disorder. Some people care about giving a good image and trying to be careful when eating in public. Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem can come into play, where the person does not feel comfortable in their behaviours at the moment of eating but at the same time that does not mean they can try eating in public.
How to eliminate the fear of eating in public
For a person to eliminate the fear of eating in public it is important to take into account the following actions. When it has been determined that the cause for which a person is afraid of eating in public is related to a mental disorder, psychological and psychopharmacological treatment comes into play here.
The psychological treatment for a person with a mental disorder related to the fear of eating will address cognitive behavioural therapy to know how the person developed the eating patterns she has and led her to the point of experiencing fear of eating in public. In therapy, the person will have to perform exposure exercises to the action that causes anxiety and fear so that little by little he will eliminate the fear that causes him to be acting like eating.
In the case of drug treatment, this is used when the cases are more severe where the person has very marked symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Also in the treatment, it can include relaxation techniques, where the person can reduce symptoms related to fear of eating in public.
It is proven that psychological treatment gives very good results for various mental disorders such as those mentioned above and the inclusion of drug treatment also makes the process more efficient.
FAQs about the fear of eating in public
Does being afraid of eating mean that a person has an eating disorder?
No, a person who is afraid of eating does not mean they have an eating disorder. A mental health professional is the right one to make this type of diagnosis and determine whether or not you have any mental disorder.
What can I do if I feel anxiety at the time of eating?
Try to be calm, breathe for a few moments and tell yourself that everything will be fine. It is normal to feel anxiety from time to time, try that when these moments arrive do not let the negative thoughts make your anxiety increase, counteract them with positive ones.
What happens if a person fails to eliminate the fear of eating the public?
If a person remains afraid of eating in public, he will be isolated more and more from people. You will continue to avoid situations where you have to eat in public and may reach a point where you develop depression.
What are the symptoms of a person who is afraid to eat in public?
The most common symptoms are sweating, palpitations, tremor, avoidance of activities that involve eating in front of others and symptoms of stress.
How do I help a person who is afraid to eat in public?
Listen to the reasons why that person says they are afraid of eating in public, do not judge or try to force them to go to eat somewhere if they do not want to. Be more understanding and offer your support for anything that a person needs. If the person decides to seek professional help for their condition, offer your support to go to the doctor if the person prefers.
The fear of eating in public represents one of the many social phobias that a person can have. Many people may be afraid to eat in public for various reasons, but they must recognize that this fear can negatively affect their daily lives. The person who feels the manifestation of strong symptoms related to the fear of eating should seek help to overcome this fear. The preconceived ideas that someone has about eating in front of others come into play when developing this type of fear so that therapy will be vital for the person to change those perceptions.
- Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat
- Eat It Anyway: Fight the Food Fads, Beat Anxiety and Eat in Peace
- 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience (8 Keys to Mental Health)
- Social Anxiety and the Fear of Eating in Front of Others
- Coping With Cibophobia or the Fear of Food
- Scared to eat in public – managing social anxiety disorder