Social Anxiety Eating

  • One of my biggest challenges is that I get stressed in social events (work, family, etc.) and as a result will eat more (and more garbage) food than I even want. I've tried to drink water during these things instead, which worked except it was a bit embarrassing to have the waitress refill my last 5-6 times!

    If anyone has tips, I'd love to hear them.

  • If you have cravings during the meal and are tempted in that respect, you could have a protein shake before you leave the house, or some psyllium and water to fill you up to keep yourself more in line.
    Once at the event, order something healthy, and a large water. Once you're done your meal, pop a sugar free candy, cough drop, or mint and sip on your water. Don't worry if you need a refill!! If you drink a lot of beverage before leaving home you probably won't feel the need to drink a lot of water at the event. And the cough drop/ mint will keep your mouth busy
  • I find that club soda or sparkling water is a good alternative as well--especially with lemon or lime. Not free, though.

    I like Natalia's tip about the mint or cough drop--I'll have to try that!

    It's a challenge. I often don't eat everything I'm served, and I have the rest boxed up or just taken away as soon as I'm done. That way I can't keep picking at it. I've "trained" myself NOT to finish everything on my plate.

    Some places serve bread or chips before the entree. I have trouble leaving them alone. If I can't just forego them, I will try to count the chips and stop at six (corn chips) or I'll take some bread, cut it in half, and nibble on half very slowly. Small bites, chewed very well, count to 30 in between bites. And let the waitstaff take the other half away uneaten.

    Or, if the people I'm with agree, I just ask them not to bring bread or chips to the table.

    If it's at home, I'd take small portions of foods to begin with and eat slowly, savoring the food. I find that I feel full more quickly that way and am less likely to eat food after I'm already full.

  • Im quite the opposite unfortunately I have anxiety about actually eatting in public. I am more apt to eat something I "shouldnt" in private than in front of people.
  • Hi Kylie!

    Social events stress me, out, too! I find that, for one thing, if I STAY AWAY from the food area and also MOVE AROUND to talk to different people, that keeps me away from the calorie danger zone!

    Before each event I make sure that I have something substantial at my home like a grilled chicken breast and some veggies, or a bowl of high-fiber cereal, or an apple with some peanut butter. I was full enough BEFORE I got to the party, so I didn't need to eat once I got there!

    This past Christmas I managed to go to FOUR PARTIES and had just ice water at ALL FOUR of them! For all my life I had believed that I would somehow hurt the hostess's feelings if I didn't eat and eat and eat. At the first party I was successful NOT eating because I just spent my time TALKING and enjoying the people there. For the second party I joined a group that was headed downstairs to play pool, air hockey and ping pong. I LOVE those things, so I spent the night having fun with others, playing games I love, and drinking LOTS of water! The third party was more challenging but doable because I helped serve everyone. Nobody noticed that I hadn't eaten, or they thought I had eaten on the run! The fourth party had so many DRINKERS that nobody had a clue WHAT I was doing!!!

    I also rationalized to myself that EACH of these parties STARTED after 7:30PM, and I try not to eat much if anything after that.

    If all else fails just tell the people that you have already eaten your calories for the day. Anyone who causes you a hassle about that isn't your friend anyway, so don't let it bother you!

    I LOVE FOOD, so if I can make this work, ANYONE can!

  • Quote: Im quite the opposite unfortunately I have anxiety about actually eatting in public. I am more apt to eat something I "shouldnt" in private than in front of people.
    I'm the same way, to the point that I'll eat before I go somewhere.. that way I just get something small when I am out with people.
  • Often, DH and my date nights consist of a run followed by dinner. I have learned to simply ask for a pitcher of water and that way I can drink all I want without having to ask the waitstaff.
  • Hi Kylie! Eating healthy in social situations can be SO frustrating! My family isn't big on dieting or eating healthfully, so I always feel pressured if I order a salad or a grilled chicken sandwich (w/no mayo). Or if I'm at a party, I feel like I always have to have some food or a drink in my hand to fit in. I guess I just have to keep thinking about what I really want in my life and whether that's indulging in a tasty entree or looking better than everyone else at family reunions (and probably living longer). Sometimes I find that chewing gum helps. Good luck!
  • Food strategies are very good to have, but you might also want to explore the social anxiety itself. If it's possible for you, maybe talking to a counsellor of some kind might help you get to the bottom of why you're anxious, and give you some tools to deal with that.

  • Thanks guys.
    I really appreciate the tips, particularly the cough drop/moving around like great ideas that I'm definitely going to try next time.

    I had a couple social situations this month and I found that I did OK at a restaurant (even though I drank gallons of water) and I did OK at a buffett type of thing. Where I crashed and burned was when someone actually handed me food, cake in this instance. I think it's that "people pleaser" thing rearing it's ugly head.

    I can't believe how much trouble I've gotten into over the years from THAT! Therapy might not be a bad idea! HAHAHA

    Thanks for your guys' thoughts and encouragement.