How to Overcome the Fear of Eating in Front of People
A lot of people feel uncomfortable eating in public. Maybe you’re one of them. It’s natural to feel self-conscious and anxious when eating around other people, but there are ways to overcome the fear.
The best way to overcome the fear of eating in public is through exposure therapy. This means gradually exposing yourself to the situations that make you anxious.
No matter what method you choose, it’s important to be patient and persistent. Overcoming the fear of eating in public takes time and practice, but it’s definitely doable.
What is the Fear of Eating in Public Called?
The fear of eating in public is called deipnophobia. Deipnophobia is an intense fear or phobia of eating in public places, especially in front of others. This phobia can be extremely debilitating and make it very difficult to live a normal life.
There are many reasons why someone may develop deipnophobia. For some, it may be due to a bad experience in the past such as choking or vomiting in public. For others, it may be due to social anxiety or a fear of embarrassment. No matter what the cause, deipnophobia can be a very real and serious problem.
What Situations Trigger the Fear of Eating in Public?
For people who have deipnophobia, almost any situation can trigger fear. You may be afraid to eat in restaurants, at social gatherings, or even in your own home if someone else is present.
You may feel self-conscious and embarrassed about your eating habits, and worry that others will judge you or think you are strange. It’s not just that you’re worried about what other people think. It’s that you think there is something wrong with you and it’s only a matter of time before other people notice.
Below is a list of specific situations that may trigger the fear of eating in public:
- Eating in front of others at a restaurant
- Eating in front of others at a social gathering
- Eating in front of others in your own home
- Eating when someone else is watching you
- Eating on camera
- Eating in public places in general
As you can see, the fear of eating in public can be triggered by a variety of situations. If you have dentophobia, it’s important to be aware of what situations make you anxious so that you can be prepared for them.
What Are the Symptoms of the Fear of Eating in Public?
The symptoms of deipnophobia can vary from person to person, but there are some common symptoms that are typically experienced. These include the following:
- Intense anxiety or fear when thinking about eating in public
- Avoidance of social situations or gatherings where food will be present
- Avoidance of specific foods that you are afraid to eat in public
- Eating only certain foods that can be easily hidden or eaten quickly
- Feeling self-conscious and embarrassed about your eating habits
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, shaking, and difficulty breathing when faced with the prospect
How Does the Fear Cause Problems?
The fear of eating in public can cause many problems in a person’s life. These problems can include the following:
- Stress and anxiety about eating in public
- Embarrassment and shame about eating habits
- Inability to enjoy social gatherings or eat out with friends and family
- Preoccupation with food and weight control
- Missed opportunities because you are too afraid to eat in public
- Isolation from others because you are too embarrassed to eat around them
- Health problems due to restrictive eating habits
What Causes the Fear of Eating in Public?
There is no one single cause for deipnophobia. It is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including the following:
- A negative experience: A bad experience while eating in public, such as choking or feeling embarrassed, can trigger the fear.
- Genetics: If you have a close family member who suffers from deipnophobia or another anxiety disorder, you may be more likely to develop the condition.
- Brain chemistry: People with deipnophobia may have an abnormal brain chemistry that makes them more sensitive to fear and anxiety.
- Personality: People who are shy or introverted may be more likely to develop deipnophobia.
How Can I Overcome the Fear of Eating in Public?
There are several strategies that can help you overcome the fear of eating in public:
- Talk to a therapist: If you feel like you can’t manage the fear on your own, talking to a therapist may be helpful. A therapist can provide guidance and support and give you tools to deal with your anxiety. Betterhelp online therapy is an excellent resource for people who want to overcome the fear of eating in public.
- Medication: If you find that therapy alone is not enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce your anxiety.
- Self-care: Taking care of yourself is important when you’re dealing with any type of anxiety. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Also, try to avoid stress.
- Behavioral modification: If you tend to avoid certain foods because of the fear of eating in public, try to slowly introduce them back into your diet. Start by eating them in private and then gradually work up to eating them in front of others.
- Practice exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves gradually exposing yourself to the things that scare you. With exposure therapy, you will slowly work up to eating in public places.
- Use relaxation techniques: When you feel anxious or afraid, try using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or visualization. This can help calm your mind and body down.
- Identify your triggers: It can be helpful to identify the things that trigger your fear of eating in public. Once you know what these triggers are, you can work on addressing them head-on.
- Talk to others: When you feel anxious about eating in public, talking to other people can help ease your mind. Knowing that you’re not alone can be comforting.
- Challenge your thoughts: Many people with deipnophobia have negative thoughts about eating in public. Challenging these thoughts can help reduce their impact. For example, “I might choke” could be countered with “I’ve eaten in public before and I’m just fine.”
- Learn table etiquette: If you’re worried about making a mistake while eating in public, you can learn table etiquette. This can help you feel more confident and comfortable when eating around others. Emily Post’s website is a great resource for learning table manners.
- Practice gratitude: Practicing gratitude can help you focus on the positive things in your life. When you feel grateful, it’s easier to let go of fear and anxiety. A gratitude journal is a great way to start practicing gratitude.
- Write in a journal: Writing in a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings about deipnophobia. It can also be a way to track your progress as you work on overcoming the fear.
- Use positive affirmations: Positive affirmations are short, positive statements that you repeat to yourself. They can help boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. Some examples of positive affirmations for deipnophobia include “I am capable of eating in public” and “I am not my fear.”
- Find a support group: A support group can be a great resource if you’re struggling with the fear of eating in public. In a support group, you can share your experiences and get advice from others who understand what you’re going through.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. When you’re mindful, you focus on your thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment. This can help you feel more in control of your anxiety.
- Take a break: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break. Step away from the situation that is causing you anxiety and give yourself time to calm down. You can come back to it later when you’re feeling more prepared.
- Take vitamins/supplements: Some people find that taking vitamins or supplements can help reduce their anxiety in general. This may be something worth considering if you’re struggling with the fear of eating in public.
Why Do I Get Anxiety When I Eat in Public?
There are a number of reasons why you may get anxious when you eat in public:
- You’re afraid of choking: Choking is a common fear among people with deipnophobia. This fear can be triggered by seeing someone else choke or by thinking about it happening to yourself.
- You’re worried about being embarrassed: Another common worry among people with deipnophobia is that they will do something embarrassing while eating in public, such as spill food on themselves.
- You’re anxious about what others will think: People with deipnophobia often worry about what other people will think of them if they see them eating in public. They may feel like they are being judged or that they will be seen as weak or incompetent.
- You’re worried about making a mess: Some people with deipnophobia worry about making a mess when they eat in public. This may be due to a fear of spilling food or water, or simply not wanting to make a mess in front of others.
Is Deipnophobia an Eating Disorder?
Deipnophobia is not an eating disorder. However, people with deipnophobia may be more likely to have eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. In addition, those with social anxiety and/or deipnophobia may be less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders.
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Is Eating Anxiety a Thing?
Yes, eating anxiety is a real thing. And it’s not just in your head. Deipnophobia is a type of anxiety that can cause a lot of distress and make it hard to function in day-to-day life. If you’re struggling with deipnophobia, know that you’re not alone. There are many people who understand what you’re going through and there are things you can do to ease your anxiety.
Coping with Deipnophobia
If you have deipnophobia, there are a number of things you can do to ease your anxiety and make it more manageable.
- Talk to someone who understands: Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be incredibly helpful. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or doctor.
- Make a plan: Having a plan in place can help you feel more in control and less anxious about eating in public. Decide ahead of time where you’re going to eat and what you’re going to order. This can take some of the pressure off and make the experience less daunting.
- Challenge your fears: Facing your fears can be difficult, but it’s also very effective in overcoming them. If you’re afraid of choking, try eating slowly and deliberately. If you’re worried about embarrassing yourself, try to relax and focus on your food.
- Practice: The more you practice, the easier it will be. Try eating in public a few times, even if you don’t feel like you’re ready. This will help you get more comfortable with the experience and make it less anxiety-provoking.
- Take care of yourself: Be sure to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help reduce anxiety. In addition, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with stress. This could include yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
- Consider therapy: If your anxiety is impacting your quality of life, it may be helpful to seek professional help. Therapists who specialize in anxiety disorders can provide you with the tools and techniques you need to manage your anxiety.
Deipnophobia can be a difficult thing to deal with, but there are ways to cope with it. If you’re struggling, reach out for help from someone who understands. With time and practice, you can learn to manage your anxiety and live a more normal life.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Deipnophobia?
If you think you may have deipnophobia, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you identify the symptoms and provide treatment options. Treatment for deipnophobia often includes exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. These therapies can help you overcome your fear and manage your anxiety.
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- How to Stop a Panic Attack in Public
- How to Overcome a Public Speaking Phobia
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12 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Eating in Public
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Thanks for sharing! I tried for years to overcome my social anxiety on my
own but to be honest, I wasn’t really serious about it.
I was just coping with it basically.
But one day it dawned on me that I was super unhappy with my life.
I skipped out on so many opportunities to meet new friends, date, and get ahead in my career due to an issue that I should’ve dealt with a long time ago.
After spending days researching social anxiety online, I found this blog that changed everything.
See it for yourself here:
Hope this helps! It was exactly what I needed.
Arlin Cuncic says
Thanks for sharing. I looked over the website of the link you shared, it looks like the author is really passionate about social anxiety, which I can appreciate. Traditional methods work too though and shouldn’t be discounted. 🙂
Amy S says
Hey, thank you for sharing this! I found that I could really relate to your video. I started getting anxiety around eating when I was about 16, and then it got much worse when I got my first boyfriend and had to go round to his house for dinner with his family. It stayed with me until towards the end of uni, and I can remember a 4-day holiday in France with my family, where I ate a really small amount of food and thought I might starve – but my anxiety still wouldnt let me eat! When I get anxiety during a meal (which tends to be formal situations, dates, or if there’s just one other person. I think this is all due to a fear of feeling pressure to eat all the food on my plate and to hold a long conversation) then I tend to get hot, feel bloated and nauseous. And most of the time I have to leave the table to throw up – it’s so embarrassing and makes me feel extremely rude – and I think it’s the fear of this happening that actually causes my anxiety (and sadly it does). My anxiety went away for about 3 years, after I got counselling in my final year of uni, but it has recently started to come back again. This article was really helpful in reminding me of some of the tips my counsellor gave me. I think the most important one that I learned from her was that eating a meal is not about the food – it’s about the conversation and the socialising – so if you focus on that then the food and whether you eat it or not becomes much less important. I also became a vegetarian, so that I would feel less pressure to eat all the food on plate – because I don’t mind eating potatoes on my plate, but I wouldn’t want to leave an animal. Thank you for all your advice – I really thought I was the only person with the fear, so it’s really eye-opening to hear your experiences. I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better now – and I hope that continues!
I’m so glad the article was helpful! That’s a great tip about the meal being more about socializing than about the food. Just to clarify, the video was from Youtuber Lottie Rainbow, and I included it in the post because I thought her story was very relatable to the topic. Arlin :=)