For me eating in public was one of the harder things in recovery i had alot of failed attempts. I had all these thoughts that people would judge me for what i ate... i felt like i HAD to just take water, otherwise the people around me would judge me and think im fat. But at the same time i had thoughts telling me that i just looked sick if i had just water, that i had to atleast take something... So it often resulted in me taking water and a black coffee or green tea, because then i atleast took something.
For me 2 factors which played a role in my developing my ED (Or what i think is factors anyway) is when a teacher commented on what i ate for lunch when i was11 and then when i was 12,5 i changed toa new bigger school. And when we sat and ate lunch it felt like everyone was staring at me, judging me. So i decided it was easier to just not eat at lunch than to feel like everyone was looking at me.
So yes, for a very long time ive had problems with thinking people judge me for what and how i eat, but also what i hate is when people look at me when i eat. This is something i am fine with now, i can sit with strangers and eat, or sit on my own in public and eat. But for a VERY long time, i struggled with eating with strangers or even eating on my own.
If i was with my mum or sister at home i felt i could atleast eat something without feeling judged, though what i hated most was that they were actually making me eat. But i wasnt worried about being judged.
If you have the same type of problems as i did, or the same type of thoughts then below is some tips and advice on what to think about/cope.
Realise that nobody else is judging you apart from yourself: When you are self conscious or worried about soemthing you feel like everyone is looking at you, but thats not the case. Its just that YOU are looking more at others and noticing small things more than usual. When it comes to eating, yes people may look at you, look at what you ordered but do they judge you? Well not in the same way you judge yourself.
Think like this: The way you look around you, notice what someone else orders and the thoughts you have... well they are the same that others have.
But you have to realise that what others think DOESNT MATTER! If you are a vegan or vegetarian you are bound to get questions of why you ordered without meat or why you said you dont eat kebab etc But feel no obligation to explain yourself, people will always ask or even interrogate or try to give you some type of information.
Look around you, other people are eating. So you can ASWELL. Eating is a social thing, its part of living life. If you think about it, you go to cafes with friends, you order snacks at the cinema, you go out to eat with your partner or family, or you go for picnics in summer. You eat snacks when watchinga movie, you eat snacks when you go to fgriends houses etc
And there is nothing wrong with that. If you continuously say no to these types of events or just dont eat when you do go you restrict yourself alot.
And actually, people are more likely to judge you if you dont eat than if you do!!
Face the fear!!! This is the most important. For me, it took several attempts to be ok with actually eating in public... the first time i was going to eat on my own in public i ended up standing in a bathroom, eating a little and then not being able to eat anymore because of anxiety. The first time i was going to eat lunch in school again after almost 2 years all i could eat was a tiny portion because i felt uncomfortable eating alot, in case of being judged.
But i worked against the fear and the anxiety. The first time might not have been easy, but it gets easier.
Having a coping mechanism... a way to cope with the anxiety and face the voice in your head when you are in a situation which gives you anxiety or panic. Take deep breaths.
Try to not care about the people around you, focus on your goal and your task. (Or what to call it ;)) Take deep breaths and remind yourself its ok to eat, everyone else does it. Everyone else around you is eating.
A good thing to also do is to sit in public say in a cafe and to see what others eat... Ok,. this sounds like a sick thing, i know. I used to always stare at what other people ate. This can either be a negative thing, but it can also be a positive thing. Because you see how others eat, how a normal portion is. You realise that people of all shapes of sizes eat, that food is part of living. You cant live life without food.
I feel like this post has become very messy (im sorry about that!). But basically - Face the fear and anxiety. Keep trying, even if you cant do it the first time. Go back and try again. Find a way to cope with the anxiety. Have a motto to keep you going and to remind yourself that its ok. And DONT care what others think, they arent judging you. You are the one judging yourself!!