Fear of eating in public is a type of social phobia. Some people experience anxiety around other people usually because they are afraid to be judged. Maybe you are afraid that you will be judged for how you look when you eat or how much you eat. Maybe you are afraid of being judged on what you eat and how. Let me just say that most people are not that great mannered themselves so if someone else judges you or you are afraid of being judged by others, do not fret. It is likely that even if someone else judges you they have plenty of imperfections themselves. No one is perfect and you should not have to hide indoors for fear of what other people might think. In any event judgmental or mean people are rarely worth your worry and your attention.
A common suggestion to manage this fear of eating in public is ordering foods that are easy to eat and are not messy. Also, some suggest learning about table manners and using a napkin. You also might consider taking smaller bites, eating with your mouth close..etc. It seems like if all else fails you might consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you deal with this anxiety. Personally, I find that sometimes just not focusing on the issue and ignoring it may be the best strategy. You know they say ignorance is bliss. I feel like this fear of eating in front of others is almost a form of OCD. So stop obsession and you might avoid the compulsion of fear as well.
This uncomfortable feeling while eating in public might stem from an abnormal relationship with food and is also linked to a whole bunch of eating disorders. This is something to be examined with your therapist. Social phobia in general is also linked to having poor social skills in general. So you might consider taking a class or something.
Often times I find that people who cause social anxiety in general are jealous people. They thrive on making someone else feel uncomfortable to make themselves feel better. So the next time you feel judged for eating in a certain way, just remember that the people doing the judging are really insecure and feel horrible about themselves.
We all wish that the world was a better and kinder place. However, there are unfortunately plenty of rude assholes out there that love to make everyone else’s life a living hell. Usually sensitive and nice people get affected by bullies the most. Don’t let this happen to you. Be brave and live your life. Eventually, by putting yourself out there you will meet worthwhile people who will be kind to you and will not be critical.
You might also try to consider that other people are eating in front of you as well. Hopefully they mess up or have bad table manners so you are not in it by yourself. However, consider that most people unless you are doing something really obnoxious are too busy with their own business to care about you and your food.
Also, table manners are different for different cultures. In some cultures burping is considered appropriate and in appreciation of the food served. This is the case in China. However, in most Western cultures it is just plain rude and disgusting. So maybe it all just does not matter because you cannot please everyone and somehow someone somewhere will end up judging you.
Trust and believe that anyone who dares to judge you is a mean obnoxious individual who does not care about you and your well being. So if they do not care about you, why should you care about them?
I think some people are embarrassed to eat in public because they enjoy food a little bit too much. They eat like animals and make noises when they eat and tend to be really messy. So of course someone who wants some entertainment will likely stare.
Fear of public eating is linked to being shy in general. Some people conclude that shyness is genetic while others say that improving your self confidence is the key to being less shy and more social. I think yes, to an extent being more confident does improve any type of social phobias, however, I also think some people are shy on purpose. Like if they do not like other people much or really have nothing to say to them they will keep to themselves. Like you know that they say if you have nothing to say it is better to say nothing at all? Well, I think that shy people definitely subscribe to this notion.