Fear of eating in public is another specific social anxiety that affects people who suffer from social anxiety…
Research has shown that inability to eat in public or in presence of others is one of the most common issues experienced by people who have social phobia.
People are unable to eat in restaurants or even in their homes when guests, family members, or friends are present. People are afraid of being scrutinized over their behavior by people beside them.
They worry that their hands will tremble in front of others. They are concerned they will spill their food or miss their mouth or that they might choke or vomit over their food.
This is particularly true for the elderly people who, at some point, are not able to hold things in their hands without trembling.
As the humiliation and shame of not being able to perform this simple task grows, so does the social anxiety and the thoughts of “what will others think of me?”
How can this specific social anxiety affect people on a day to day basis?
As this social distress increases, it is possible that people become fearful that they will choke on their food. As a result, people begin to eat less and less in public.
Of course, the more prominent or “elegant” the company surrounding people with this social anxiety, the higher the risk of something “bad” happening.
To deal with this issue, people begin devising complex strategies to avoid situations that would require eating in public.
They might carefully choose to go to a restaurant that is informal and not crowded. They might choose foods that do not require a lot of finesse with hands.
As a result, soup, pastas (such as spaghetti), and hand-eaten foods are avoided, so are drinks that come in smaller glasses, such as champagne, wine goblets, or delicate teacups.
Like the other kinds of specific social anxiety, it is often challenging to know exactly what the source of this particular phobia is.
There can be a number of things, including childhood issues or some particular event that led one to feel uncomfortable with eating in public.
The purpose of going to therapy or doing self-help for this phobia entails being able to pin down this critical source or trigger. Once this happens, the healing can happen in a more profound way.
It is important to not undermine how this social anxiety can affect people’s ability to interact with others.
Food, in all cultures across the world, is fundamental to our social life and how we, as humans, connect and bond with each other.
Not being able to fully participate in this bonding ritual can cause significant amount of pain and isolation for the affected individuals.