Social Eating, Anxiety & Appetite - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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Social Eating, Anxiety & Appetite


I have read on the internet how anxiety even in the slightest amount can greatly affect a persons appetite and the same applies for depression. Apparently it goes either way, you will either want to binge eat or starve yourself because the simple smell or thought of food makes you feel sick and the included symptoms of anxiety such as dry mouth or lump in the throat may prevent you from swallowing comfortably.

I have always had problems with social eating. I believe that my social anxiety in social situations causes me to lose my appetite and I find myself feeling sick and unable to swallow from the the anxiety symptoms, so for this reason I avoid eating out. If someone makes or buys me something to eat I become anxious from the pressure to eat it, thus causing me to struggle or fail to eat it.

I know a lot of people with social anxiety worry about spilling food or making a mess, but this has never been a problem for me, it is more of a performance anxiety and feeling I have to eat what is put in front of me. I am usually okay with fast food or eating on the street in my own company, but put me in a formal situation such as a restaurant and my anxiety goes through the roof.

I am making this thread because I feel very alone in my situation. I would appreciate all of your experiences being shared on social eating or anxiety and suppression in appetite.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 09:54 AM
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I'm very much the same in this regard, I can be starving but still unable to eat as a result of anxiety in formal social dinning situations. Part of it is because I'm a bit clumsy & feel I may make a mess & part of it is the social component of having to chat while you eat. I've been like this for years & don't eat out much as a result of it, I'm not sure of the solution
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 03:15 PM
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I used to be bulimic and I tend to binge in private, so eating in front of people makes me really anxious. Either I eat too much and look like a pig, or I don't eat much at all.. and they're thinking 'Yea right, this girl doesn't eat healthy, look at her she's hideously fat! She's faking!'

So I try really hard to mimic what other people are eating. I try to eat on the average to low end of what others are doing.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 03:24 PM
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I can eat in private...but cannot eat at my sisters' houses or esp. my parents' house. My mom will offer me a Snapple, hot tea or something and then gets upset when I say, "no thanks, I just had lunch"...I make-up that I just ate, of course, to be polite b/c I can NOT take any food or gifts, etc. from my parents no matter what! Probably sounds weird to others, but I have my emotional reasons.

At a restaurant, I can only sit in a booth...and I prefer empty, dark or quiet places...unfortunately, my fave places always go out of business...cuz their empty!
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 04:48 PM
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I have a compulsive overeating problem... I regularly throw up not because I'm bullimic but because I've eaten too much.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 05:16 PM
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I feel pretty awkward when I go out to eat, I try to avoid it or at least sit in the corner away from people heh. I don't lose my appetite though, however I don't enjoy my food the same as I would at home because I'm too busy thinking about the way I'm eating and conducting myself.

I also dislike the small talk that usually takes place during these eating out sessions, even with people who are not "SA", they tend to speak very inhibited or with very little meaning compared to when they are away from the crowds, so I've experienced anyway.

When I've been anxious in the past it's affected my appetite, it really puts me off food.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themoth View Post
At a restaurant, I can only sit in a booth...and I prefer empty, dark or quiet places...unfortunately, my fave places always go out of business...cuz their empty!
Same here. I cannot sit at a table. I always request "a booth in the back corner". I also can't deal with crowded restaurants where there are lines out the door!!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 10:26 PM
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I can relate very well. When I am alone I can eat just fine but in the presence of others it's different. Even around my family I feel weird. So I usually isolate myself when eating. It's a topic that I dread about dating. Most people go out to dinner/lunch on a date, but I never want to. I will get an upset stomach. I'll also feel funny with whatever I order, since I am particularly picky and always customize my dishes to make them more health friendly.

I don't worry about spilling or making a mess either. It's more of "what will they think of me when I order"...also my stomach acts crazy when I'm nervous and food doesn't go well with it.

However, I don't mind just eating out to dinner with my mom or dad. I do that quite often and I'm fine with it. Sometimes I feel self-conscious with the waiters though.

Oh..someone mentioned about eating in a car. I always do this when I'm out somewhere and they give a lunch break. I drive to some random parking lot and eat in the car. I did it ALL the time in college.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 11:40 PM
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I used to not be able to eat in front of others, but I don't have that fear anymore. For most of my life (until my late teens), I was overweight. Lunch time was an absolute nightmare for me because I felt like people were looking at me and thinking, "why is she eating that? She's fat!" Many times the other kids would say rude things or oink or what have you when they walked past me. I couldn't walk across the lunch room or even stand in line without feeling extremely uncomfortable with anxious thoughts and symptoms. Also, whenever I'd find a secluded place to sit, a large group of people would inevitably come and sit next to me and I felt so uncomfortable and intrusive with people talking and hanging out and there I was, the stranger sitting there looking out of place and like an idiot. It got to the point where in middle school, I'd avoid the lunch room all together. I'd buy a pop and a cookie from the vending machines and then retreat to the bathroom, where I'd stand in a stall and eat and drink and write in my notebook until the bell rang for the next class. It's extremely embarrassing to admit that, but really I had no other option; the anxiety was so strong and pervasive that the only place I felt safe was in a bathroom.

I also had a traumatic experience once (I was 17 at the time) when dining in a hospital's cafeteria. My dad was recovering from a heart attack and my mom and my sister and I went to go eat. I jokingly said to my mother, "you shouldn't put butter on your brocoli, mom--it's not good for you." A nurse who was sitting within hearing distance one or two tables away got up and when she walked past us she said something to the effect of "your the one who should be watching what she eats" and looked at me with a disgusted look on her face. I got so upset that I started crying and I felt so angry and frustrated that I wanted to throw the chairs and topple over the tables but I didn't do that. I was having a really, really bad day as it was, but then someone had to come along and say something hurtful and mean when I was at one of my lowest points.

Now, I don't feel so self-conscious about my body, so eating in public is not a problem for me. I'm not sure if I'd be able to eat in public if I was still overweight, though. I'd be afraid that someone might say something mean to me.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for sharing your experiences. It's good to not feel alone in how I feel.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 12:46 PM
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I'm the opposite.. I tend to use food as a crutch when eating socially.. as long as I'm eating and have food in my mouth, I don't have to talk! So I eat a lot when I'm eating with others, and get super anxious when I don't have food in front of me anymore, so I eat slowly.. and a lot.

I don't have much of a problem eating out by myself though, as long as I have a book or something so that I can withdraw into my own little place.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terra View Post
I used to not be able to eat in front of others, but I don't have that fear anymore. For most of my life (until my late teens), I was overweight. Lunch time was an absolute nightmare for me because I felt like people were looking at me and thinking, "why is she eating that? She's fat!" Many times the other kids would say rude things or oink or what have you when they walked past me. I couldn't walk across the lunch room or even stand in line without feeling extremely uncomfortable with anxious thoughts and symptoms. Also, whenever I'd find a secluded place to sit, a large group of people would inevitably come and sit next to me and I felt so uncomfortable and intrusive with people talking and hanging out and there I was, the stranger sitting there looking out of place and like an idiot. It got to the point where in middle school, I'd avoid the lunch room all together. I'd buy a pop and a cookie from the vending machines and then retreat to the bathroom, where I'd stand in a stall and eat and drink and write in my notebook until the bell rang for the next class. It's extremely embarrassing to admit that, but really I had no other option; the anxiety was so strong and pervasive that the only place I felt safe was in a bathroom.

I also had a traumatic experience once (I was 17 at the time) when dining in a hospital's cafeteria. My dad was recovering from a heart attack and my mom and my sister and I went to go eat. I jokingly said to my mother, "you shouldn't put butter on your brocoli, mom--it's not good for you." A nurse who was sitting within hearing distance one or two tables away got up and when she walked past us she said something to the effect of "your the one who should be watching what she eats" and looked at me with a disgusted look on her face. I got so upset that I started crying and I felt so angry and frustrated that I wanted to throw the chairs and topple over the tables but I didn't do that. I was having a really, really bad day as it was, but then someone had to come along and say something hurtful and mean when I was at one of my lowest points.

Now, I don't feel so self-conscious about my body, so eating in public is not a problem for me. I'm not sure if I'd be able to eat in public if I was still overweight, though. I'd be afraid that someone might say something mean to me.
I'm so sorry you went through that. Those are some awful stories. NOBODY has the right to judge others on their weight and make horrible comments like that.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 04:41 PM
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I find it hard to eat much when I'm out, I think it mostly comes from my problems with being sick when I'm nervous, so I just got used to eating less.
I usually turn down all offers of going to eat out, it's like the worst social situation for me to get into because even the smell of food and feeling trapped with it makes me sick.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 08:45 PM
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i can't eat by myself when i'm in a public place like a restaurant or cafeteria (i'm a college student) because i feel so embarrassed to be eating alone. when i eat by myself i don't eat nearly enough as i should because i feel so awkward sitting alone and just want to get out of there. i don't know what i'm going to do next term when my few friends will be gone and i'll have no one to eat with...probably be hungry and live off the snacks i can eat in my room...
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 08:50 PM
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Thank you, this was interesting to read and to know that it affects other peoples' eating habits- not just mine! I feel where you're coming from on the "performance anxiety". Although I don't avoid eating out, I feel super awkward when I do, that I might seem funny eating.

I also generally eat very little. I'm super petite, and so I don't have to eat much to stay healthy. I always thought in the back of my mind my lack of appetite had something to do with my anxiety.
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 04:51 AM Thread Starter
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I usually turn down all offers of going to eat out, it's like the worst social situation for me to get into because even the smell of food and feeling trapped with it makes me sick.
So far, this best describes how I feel. I feel very trapped at a table and when anxious in the social situation the very smell of food makes me want to vom! I have been out drinking with friends before and ordered food for myself because I was hungry. Strangely enough I have handled it well, but if going out to eat is planned and I have too much time to think about it, I will be so nervous before I get there that I can't possibly eat it. If I am comfortable and I make the decision to eat I am okay, but if it is planned for a future date then it feels I can't possibly do it.
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-23-2010, 08:24 AM
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I have a fairly healthy appetite to start with, so this can pose some real doozies in the dilemma department. I don’t think my problem is so much what I am eating, or the quantity, but the way it looks while I eat it. For instance, I hate when people talk to me while I am trying to chew; I feel as if they are staring directly at my mouth, which they may very well be doing. What if some food should slip out? Also, I find it inevitable that some food is going to get smeared all over my mouth. This is unacceptable.

To partly combat this, I have decided to dive headfirst and eat the messiest food in the Western hemisphere: Buffalo wings. Of course, an ample supply of liquor helps, and this is usually not a problem due to the often-close proximity of liquor in places serving such messy delights. Just give me a copious pile of moist towelettes and I am usually safe. Dark lighting also helps.

Dating is no problem, as I am five years married and my wife is used to seeing me behave grossly, anyway. The faculty room at work, however, is another story; I avoid it like the Bubonic plague.
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-31-2012, 04:38 PM
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I know this was posted a while ago so I'm not sure of you will reply but after a bad situation I had today o realised I need help. It's such a relief to find a post that I relate to in every way and like you said to know your not the only one. If anyone did reply though it would be a real help and again a relief thank you.
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