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  1. #1

    Fear of eating in front of other people

    I think I’m on the wrong track.

    I’m searching for some information on eating disorders and while I would probably fall under the category of Ednos, this also seems to be missing the mark. Or perhaps there just isn’t that much information out there yet.

    I cannot eat in front of other people which I’ve been able to work out in my social life by substituting other activities in place of going out to eat or just drinking coffee but I’m spending a week in Florida with a man who I’ve become very close to but not romantic yet. We don’t live close to each other so I don’t see him very often. We both think spending the week together will show us whether we want to pursue a romantic relationship or not. This is adding even more stress to my inability to eat. We have been ‘practicing’ to help ease this for me. He has cooked for me three times now and the last time I was able to actually eat enough to qualify as a snack. And I didn’t take two hours doing it. But I am so tired of the stress and struggle of this and I want our trip to be enjoyable. The way he puts it, he lives to eat and I eat to live. I don’t want to put a damper on the nice places he intends to take me to eat.

    In the exerpts below, it is true that I’m highly sensitive, and I cannot ‘sit with and express feelings’, nor do I ever assert my needs. In the second paragraph, I am the one who has no value unless I meet the approval of others. But I don’t know where to go next. In other words, what is this exactly so I can research it and find some way to at least psych myself out enough to eat when it’s necessary?

    To clarify, I can eat alone in a public place as long as I don’t feel anyone watching me (which is rare that I feel like this). But if I’m with a guy or girl friend at home or in a restaurant or at a party, when I try to take a bite of something, my mouth goes completely dry and I can’t talk or swallow and then I’m in a panic to hide it and also fix it. If I can get to some water or something that helps but then it still hurts to swallow. Then I’m really upset and panicky inside because I feel so out of control, and all at the same time I’m trying to hide this entire ordeal from anyone noticing.

    The only things I can think of in my past that might be feeding this are 1 –my Dad was pretty critical of table manners. While you learn them you’re always worried about what you might do to offend him and get in trouble. 2 – A man I was with in a pizza place made me take his chewed up food out of his mouth (via a kiss) and into mine or he would fondle my crotch in front of the children who were sitting next to us and facing us. Made me never want to eat again.

    This is all I can think of. Really, this probably isn’t even an eating disorder at all but something else that is deeper that is just manifesting itself through eating. If anyone can point me in a direction of study that might be helpful, I have 12 days to at least come up with a plan of attack to minimize this. I know, it’s a bit unrealistic to think this way, but I have to try.

    Eating Disorders - Freedom from Suffering through Recovery
    Blossom Counselling, Tauri Hall – Ottawa ON

    Recovery means the courage to express feelings.

    It means taking off the mask and being real. An eating disorder is not really about food or body image … it is an attempt to cope with feelings. People who suffer with disordered eating are people who are highly sensitive. They are people who become overwhelmed by strong emotions such as anxiety and depression. Anger is often repressed, stuffed away and conflict with others often avoided. The eating disorder is a symptom of a perceived inability to sit with and express feelings. Recovery means having a voice and asserting your needs.

    Recovery means freedom from the paralyzing fear that haunts each individual who suffers with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.

    Those of you who are suffering or who have suffered know what I am referring to: the persistent, cunning and merciless voice of the eating disorder. The voice that rings in your head convincing you that you are not good enough; that you have little or no value unless you meet the approval of others or meet the standard the fashion industry deems acceptable. The voice that refuses to give you a moments rest from the obsessive, fear inducing eating disorder thoughts surrounding body image and food restriction or consumption.
    Last edited by David Baxter; January 21st, 2010 at 01:14 PM. Reason: added link to article

  2. #2

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    Hi, Laurie:

    What you're describing sounds more like a phobia or specific anxiety-based reaction than an eating disorder per se.

    The good news is that this is treatable. However, trying to overcome this with the added pressure of a deadline only 12 days away is going to be tricky - for one thing, that's going to add to your anxiety rather than reducing it.

    Do you have a family doctor or therapist/counselor you can talk to about this?

    Do you take any medications currently or have you ever taken medications for anxiety?

  3. #3

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    Yes, the timing is definitely adding stress to this situation. I don't take any meds but I do have an herb that is helpful for anxiety. I had forgotten about that. I am supposed to see him on Saturday so I will test it out then and see if that helps.

    I do not have a doctor/therapist/counselor. I have seen a few but none were of any help. Actually, this website has always been more helpful than any doctor I've seen --even though I mostly listen and don't often talk. Thank you for this resource!

  4. #4

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    Anything you can do to reduce anxiety will likely help a bit - focused breathing, relaxation therapy, yoga, etc., or a mild tranquilizer or something equivalent. What is the herb you use?

  5. #5

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    I use Kalm Assure by Nature's Plus. It has Passionflower and GABA in it. The first time I took it I could hardly lift my arms I was so relaxed. It was a little intimidating. So I cut it in half the next time and that seemed to work well. I forgot all about it until you mentioned it --thanks for the reminder I'll try taking it Friday night or Saturday morning.

    Any thoughts as to how I can identify the phobia or specific anxiety-based reaction I'm having? I've been digging but seem to only be going around the issue instead of finding it. I don't even know what word to research. I think I just need a new trail to check out. I know this is a loaded question so no worries if nothing comes to mind.

  6. #6

  7. #7

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    this is fabulous! thank you! I'm always encouraged by a new trail and I know this will help cause I was so focused on eating that I forgot I do also have trouble with authority, stage fright and dating.

    Thank you again!


  8. #8

    Re: ED NOS - Narrowing an Eating Disorder

    You're welcome, Laurie. I hope it helps.

  9. #9

  10. #10

    Re: Fear of eating in front of other people

    Another strategy is to play fun with it. I love people with a good sense of humor. Just puff your cheeks up like a hamster and grin real silly. I've always been shy and self-conscious of what people think of me. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and stop thinking to do what you have to do to face a fear. It may be a small step toward your goal, but its still a step closer than where you were before. For me, its spaghetti. I hate eating spaghetti in front of people.

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