How to Overcome the Phobia of Eating in Public?

A villager writes next to restaurants during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in downtown Albufeira, Portugal

People who fear (and turn anxious) eating out are more prevalent than you’d think. Maybe you are one of them, and that’s why you want to read this article. After all, eating in restaurants and sipping a coffee at a cafe is considered a necessary social activity. Eating together is the force that holds us together. In some ways, we are no different from the old English kings described in Beowulf’s epic poem. By urging people to eat with us, we show them that we are “allies.” Most of our rules of decorum concern how we ought to act when dining with others. Restaurants can be stages of judgment and competition, where business deals and friendships are formed and destroyed. It’s no wonder that eating with others or in a crowded public place can cause a few people to panic. The fear of eating out is a well-known social phobia. Help, however, is out there (or, let’s see, here in the article).

When You May Have A Dilemma

How do you know if the distress you experience while dining in restaurants is “normal” social anxiety-related, most likely, to the specifications of your social situation–as opposed to a life-long, crippling phobia of eating in public? Here are some possible signs that you have a special issue with eateries that need to be approached post-haste.

  1. When you’re in a cafe or restaurant, do you feel that the other guests are glaring at you with criticism from the moment you’ve entered the door–even though you’re dressed appropriately for the cafe, and you know you’ve not done anything wrong? 
  2. Do you spend lots of time getting ready before going to cultural gatherings at cafes–maybe taking so long that you’ve missed the gathering? Are you unable to savor your food at restaurants, no matter how brilliantly prepared it is? When you’re sitting in a cafe, do you find yourself counting the minutes until you think it’s suitable for you to leave? These are the signs of a sad crippling phobia. 

If you want to run normally in society, it’s a phobia you’ll need to solve right away.

How to Overcome the Fear of Eating in Public?

Mess it up: Do some practices in which you try to be anxious or messy on purpose. Try to spill your drink a little or make your hands shake. By attempting to make a fool of yourself deliberately, you will release the pressure you are feeling and discover that your world is not ending because of a small mess.

Table Manners: Become a master at table manners only to build your confidence when eating. This will assist you when you face a formal situation; when everyone else is struggling to hold a chopstick at a Japanese restaurant, you can be confident in your actions and choices.

Practice Deep Breathing: If you see yourself becoming overly anxious before a dining event or a social gathering, practice deep breathing to calm yourself down, such as breathing to the count of five in through your nose, holding your breath for a count of five, and then exhaling for a count of ten.

Gratitude: Negative thoughts are submissive towards gratitude. Be thankful to the food, be good to waiters and the restaurant manager, and your fear will be an afterthought. 

Was it worth reading? Let us know.