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Oh yes, the eating situations had always been a problem for me too. Usually meals are only difficult in public places eating alone, or if I'm eating with a bunch of people I don't know very well. Things always seem more comfortable (to me at least) if I'm with one good friend who I feel I can comfortably carry on a conversation with. Not sure if that's an option for you during the meal event or not, though. Sometimes the accustics of a room can add to the discomfort level too. For instance some rooms make it so that when one person even barely whispers, everyone can hear exactly what is said, while in other rooms everyone can be carrying different conversations, and you have to shout across the room just to hear anybody else. Also any practice you can do to enhance eye contact will help you hold onto some more confidence during the meal. For some reason I feel like I can draw more strength by looking right into the eyes of people I do not fear (like young children or siblings), and by avoiding everyone's eyes, it only cowers me even more.
 
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