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ANXIETY AROUND FOOD & EATING OUT | my experience & advice

I used to not be able to go out to eat without feeling extreme anxiety, guilt, and shame. I remember feeling this way since I was in middle school. Eating out at restaurants or eating at other people's homes - I didn't feel in control and this was terrifying.

It started as more of me being afraid to eat foods that 'weren't good for me' and 'would make me fat', but slowly progressed into feeling self conscious about what others thought about what or how much I was eating. At home, I had the comfort of feeling in control and secure.

I developed these bad habits and terrible anxieties surrounding food early on in life. Like every vulnerable young woman, I was victimized by social media and societal beauty standards. I was around people who constantly commented on others' weight in judgmental ways. I was around people who would say things like, "I shouldn't be eating this" or would even comment on how much someone was eating during a meal.

I encourage you to think about these things:

  1. If you do pay attention to how much another person is eating at a meal, why? This has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with you.

  2. Before you make comments like "I shouldn't be eating this" or talk about how full you are but that 'you cannot stop eating', think about how it might impact someone else.

  3. Comments about how 'the diet starts tomorrow' or somehow earning the meal are not okay.

Self control is something I've lacked, and if we are being honest, something I still struggle with today at times, but to a lesser degree. I definitely had a form of binge eating (which I think I knew, but was too embarrassed to admit it). If I ate outside of what I deemed 'a good day of eating', I would go off the rails and feel like a failure.

My advice is to not avoid these situations. By avoiding going out to eat, you're further confirming that eating out is terrifying. By having positive experiences and outcomes of stepping outside of your comfort zone, your anxiety will decrease slowly. Keep yourself accountable and focus on yourself. No one is paying attention to how much you eat, and if they are that's a them problem. Realizing that a meal, no matter what it was or how much I ate, would not cause all progress to go down the drain also helped me a lot. And again, this was something I had to learn over time by doing this scary thing, having a positive experience, and doing it all over again.

If you're struggling with food, know that your relationship with food CAN improve and that is something that is so damn exciting!


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