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Dining In Or Eating Out

Dear Sugar
I have a problem eating out with friends and family and it is progressively getting worse. Eating at friends houses or in a restaurant makes me extremely uncomfortable when I can't see how the food is being prepared. It seems like nothing ever tastes right when I eat out.

I love having dinner parties at my house and socializing, but my friends are getting fed up with my homebody ways. I feel like I am constantly disappointing my friends when I decline their meal invitations and it's like no one understands what the big deal is. Is what I am experiencing normal? Food Creased Katlin

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Food Creased Katlin
What is it about dining out that makes you feel so uncomfortable? Are you concerned with the cleanliness of the kitchen or how the food is stored? Are you on a strict diet? All cooks use different ingredients which makes them unique. Are you concerned with fattening ingredients that someone might be adding to your meal?

It sounds as though you are suffering from a variation of a food phobia. Symptoms can create dread when being confronted with eating out. Can you remember any food related incident from your past that could be triggering this behavior? Does anyone in your family suffer from the same fear?

If you feel this way of life is pushing people away, I think it is best to nip this in the bud before you let it get the best of you. If you want to live a "normal" life, you will be faced with dining out for special occasions, holiday events, and business meetings for many days to come. I suggest seeking out a therapist or a counselor to help you overcome this fear so you don't have to worry anymore.

Join The Conversation
Marci Marci 10 years
I agree with the other comments that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. As the others said, you are missing out on a lot of great times with friends, and that's what life is all about; the people we care about. Seek professional help and try to work through this. And in the meantime, I don't think you necessarily have to turn down every invitation. Go, even if you push your food around on your plate. At least you're there, out having a good time. After awhile, people will stop asking you to come if you always says no and you don't want that to happen. Best of luck!
redmed redmed 10 years
yeah.... that is not normal. You said that the problem has become progressively worse. Why or when did it start--did you get sick, or just start to worrying about situations with meals that 'could' happen? Eating out and sharing meals with friends and family is a huge part of life. Your declining invitations is probably offensive to your friends- especially if it is an invitation to their home. Don't let your anxieties get in the way of enjoying meals and time with your loved ones. Without a doubt, you need to speak with a professional about this. They will understand 'what the big deal is' and help you resolve this issue.
kittycat kittycat 10 years
if ur concerned about cleanliness then just ask to check out the kitchen before u order the foods. to me foods at home are fresher. i know what is in it. i love to cook for people i love. too few people actually cook nowadays. restaurant foods are not even as half as good as home cooked foods, and the price is at least 2x + fat contents, sugar, need i go on? only thing good about eating out is the time u save on cooking...i mean i like cooking but i got little time. being the picky eater that i am, dinner for two for $100 is not as good as the dinner i can make for $50. so u guess it, not many good restaurants on my list....LOL
celsou celsou 10 years
While this phobia certainly isn't normal, it also isn't rare to hear about. If it begins to get out of hand, you should take with a counselor about it. Before that, however, try reading up on the restaurants before you go to them, or eat a small meal beforehand so that you are less hungry there and thus less inclined to eat a large meal (it sounds like it is the food preparation you are most worried about). Try suggesting restaurants that have open kitchens, which welcome you to watch the food preparation and are thus more inclined to keep a clean kitchen and good cooking habits. Good luck!
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