Anxiety eating in public is another form of emotional eating.
Email from a young woman who wishes to remain anonymous:
“I find that I am most stressed out with my eating when I am in public. It’s like I don’t want people to see me, like I’m doing something that’s pathetic like smoking or drinking alone and that I am weak to do it.
“I know that’s not true but I feel like because I am an emotional eater that it’s like my dirty secret or something. So what I do is eat fast and even if I try to slow down, I can for a minute but then go right back to the faster pace.
“I think I just want to get it over with so nobody has to see anything that is so personal and judge me for it. I can imagine that nobody really cares but it feels like I am exposed and that my dirty secret is visible for everyone to see,
“If people are over at my place I don’t eat all that much in front of them because I am embarrassed that they might think I’m a weirdo or something. I guess that’s why people don’t like to drink alone, because if others are doing it then they are not singled out.
“The last time I ate out in public was at a food court which was anxiety provoking because there were lots of shoppers at the mall that day and I was sitting alone at the table. At least if I was with someone I would have appeared to be socializing and then eating as something secondary to do.
“But when you’re alone you’re just eating and it felt like I had a giant spotlight on me so that everyone could see me and of course think that I’m a loser for being alone and one for eating fast food, even if it was on the healthier side.
“I think I also eat fast because I’m anxious anyway, even if I wasn’t around other people. being in public just makes me eat faster. I can’t seem to think about much other than what I’ll be having for dinner later on and try to ‘get myself’ there.
“Once it’s close to dinner time I start to feel lighter and better, in good spirits knowing that my food will be there to calm me down soon. It’s funny though I never really noticed, that I feel best about an hour before until just before I take my first bite.
“Once I start eating I devour my food and am upset as to why I didn’t slow down and make it last longer, to enjoy it more. After eating I look at my plate and have almost no recollection of how it tasted, how good it was or how the experience was for me.
“It’s something to get out of the way and in my belly as fast as I can. Then I start to feel grounded and empty at the same time. I don’t feel satisfied and so go on to look for something else to take my attention off of the void that is my life.
“Sometimes it’s TV or just checking my phone. Other times it’s me looking into the fridge, door open for 10 minutes trying to see if there is something else that will do the trick.
“Another thing that makes me anxious while eating in public or just around other people is that I don’t know how to act sometimes. What’s if someone wants to talk to me and I’m chewing? That freaks me out.
“Do I eat the same things everyone else does, the same amounts? I can eat more than they know and so I feel weird when I take a plate or order some food and pretend like I’m being myself when I’m not. That feeling weird makes me eat fast too, so that the situation is gone and I can go back to ‘hiding’ or not eating.
“Also, when there are people around there’s lots of talking back and forth so I feel that I can’t properly eat at a normal pace. It’s hard enough to breathe and talk to a bunch of people let alone eat during that too. Ever see people eating in crowds? They uncomfortably try to get the food down their throats in a hurry so they can resume being polite.
“That sucks. Why even eat then? I dunno, it’s all crazy. I wanted to write this in to let you know of another side to emotional eating that I haven’t seen here on this website. It might be helpful to others who have the same issue.
“Please keep my email and name private.
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