National Eating Disorders Association

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Cooking/Eating in front of Roommates

Hello fellow recovery warriors,

I have been in recovery for ten years, since I was 13. I am healthy and most of the time my eating disorder isn't really a concern or everyday worry for me.

What IS a hassle, is trying to cook or eat anything in front of my roommates. This past June I moved to Baltimore. It's my first time renting and "Truly" living on my own. The three people that I live with I am very close to. They aren't strangers. I have known them for a couple of years. And they are all aware of my eating disorder as well as other mental health concerns and experiences I've been through. I love them all dearly and they feel very much like family.

When I am home alone, I can eat just fine. But when my roommates are home, I experience a lot of anxiety to simply go into the kitchen and even pour a glass of something to drink. You can imagine the anxiety I feel trying to cook something to eat.

I've found group meals to be slightly less stressful. And I am able to eat when we all collaborate on meals.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of anxiety? What have you done to help? Is this the type of situation where I just have to force myself to cook and eat even though it makes me anxious in order to get better?

Thanks in advance!

Hey emilyadventuringg. I

Hey emilyadventuringg. I appreciate the difficulty of the situation. While I haven't struggled with preparing meals in front of other people, I have struggle with social anxiety, which is similar in that both can sort of be performative. Luckily just cooking for yourself is much less performative than doing something like going out and meeting new people.
I my own personal struggles with social anxiety I did find that pushing myself to do what made me uncomfortable helped me to overcome my fears. I still deal with the reflexive negative thoughts (what if I mess up? What if I look stupid?), but I'm much more able to brush them off and act without a lot of forethought or hesitation.
I'm certainly no health professional, that's simply what's been effective for me.

What helps in your situation, I think, is that you know these people. Like you've said, you're very close and you've known them for years. Assuming they're decent people, which is what I'm getting from your post, then from their perspective I imagine it would be perfectly normal to see you cooking. You need to eat and cooking is a cheap and effective way to get what you need to live. Heck, they might even be proud of you, proud to see you actively cooking/eating.

Just my two cents but I hope my perspective can help shed a little light.

- Adage



It makes incredibly so much sense that it would be a fear of "performing". As a matter of fact, I'm confident now that the majority of it isn't WHAT i'm eating at all. I think the majority of it is the things that you described. So this knowledge is empowering to me.

Thank you!