60% of Women Don’t Like Eating in Front of Their Partner

By Jim F

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A new survey highlights some revealing statistics about the relationship between women and food.

  • 60% of women in relationships do not feel comfortable eating in front of their partner
  • 50% of women in relationships get shy undressing in front of their partner
  • 40% of women feel as though they are constantly dieting
  • 13% of women choose low-calorie meals instead of what they would actually like when eating out

Can we really believe these numbers?Although featured in Time and the Daily Mail, these numbers seem high. The survey was “carried out for Shapesmart” – according to nutritionist Mary Strugar. Shapesmart is a UK-based weight management program, and Strugar sits on the “Expert Advice Panel”. The UKPA mentions that 5,000 people were surveyed – but nowhere can I discover if any of these people had a pre-existing relationship with the diet company.

Reader surveys can be notoriously biased – it’s a bit like surveying readers of a gossip magazine if they are obsessed with celebrities — you are probably going to get a different result to the rest of the population.

Regardless of accuracy – I have no doubt that many women have an unhealthy relationship with food. The reasons for not wanting to eat in front of a partner are unclear – is he critical? Does the woman feel under scrutiny for what she chooses to eat?

Are you comfortable eating in front of your partner?

Filed in Opinion

27 Comments

  1. Fox

    I understand. My husband bolts his food because family meals were tense during childhood. Divorces Multiple both his mom and dad. So he just shovels it in and I’m still there in front of a full plate. I feel like I should be done too and he is just waiting for me to hurry up. Restaurants are even worse because when the man of the table finishes is when they come and ask me if I want a doggy bag. No matter that I’m the one with the job, paying for the meal if he’s done it takes all the enjoyment out of it. I sit there appologising for taking so long and he just watches me eat not talking because small talk is not something he does. So yeah, you’re not alone by a long shot. I love my kibble and want to enjoy it.

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  2. Kimberly

    I feel this way- don’t like to eat (or more specifically eat too much) in front of my boyfriend. I watch what he eats and try to eat far less. It’s a challenge for me because he thinks of food as fuel only. He rarely gets enjoyment out of eating. I on the other hand have a huge sweet tooth and am battling weight loss currently. (I’ve lost 65 lbs, yay!) Weight loss that was suggested by my semi-active boyfriend. He doesn’t exercise regularly but he’s very thin. I understand that his main concern is for me to be healthy and happy. But I know the biggest reason he wanted me to lose weight is vanity. His concern has affected my feelings about his happiness with me. I feel like I need to be model thin to satisfy him and I feel grotesquely fat even though I’ve lost so much weight and see it in old photos. Some days I feel better about the way I look then others. I’m still glad I’ve made a lifestyle change and I’m glad that he said something because I don’t think I ever would have tried- I didn’t think I could- without his suggestion. He does, as you stated “make you feel as if you could never be fit/healthy/beautiful”. I know this isn’t his intention. Yet, it’s the way I feel. Thoughts anyone?

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  3. Sidra

    I have a hard eating in front of people, not in front of my family, but everyone else. But i don’t know how to fix this problem, because when we actually get the time to go out and eat i am the only one left behind with plate full of food.

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  4. yesha

    dear this is very true…even i dnt feel comfortable in eating infront of my partner…may b becoz he thinks i m fat…

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  5. Madeleine

    I dont eat or I avoid eating infront of everyone

    I’ve grown tired of the constant comments on how I eat or why I eat the foods that I do. So I just dont eat infront of people. Might also have something to do with my childhood, never eating together as a family, always seperate.

    but anyway, would not eat infront anyone, unless I am extremely hungry or staying the night

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  6. Michelle

    What I meant regarding it drives me crazy is that I have no idea what he eats. I KNOW he eats because he’s big, but he doesn’t eat at home, and never has outside of a meal or two every week. He can’t even eat breakfast with me. Once I’m up he stops eating and leaves.

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  7. Michelle

    I think the opposite is true in my relationship regarding eating. My husband rarely eats in front of me. It drives me crazy to know what he actually eats, and he’s a big guy.

    He’ll come home and if he has to eat with me he’d rather just watch tv, go to bed, or say he’s not hungry. If I put his food on the table with the kids plates he’ll sit up there and eat with them as long as I’m still busy in the kitchen.

    It never occurred to me to be self-conscious about eating in front of others. LOL, I must look like a pig to the neighborhood mothers as I leave out the door munching on a German sausage in my hand.

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  8. drawah

    I’m actually the same way, you’re not weird. I had to make myself start looking people in the eye, cause I learned that it SEEMS that I’m cold or indifferent when I don’t look them in the eyes.

    Also Don’t like to eat in front of anyone, feels like they’re judging. Used to be a really fat kid, even though most of the stuff I ate was the healthiest choices I had, and always felt that people were looking at me thinking I shouldn’t eat at all. That feeling carries over into adult life.

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  9. Susan

    I like to eat healthfully in front of my husband because he’s proud of me and happy for me when I eat well and take good care of myself. I do feel some shame when I eat unhealthfully in front of him, though. When I really want to eat something I know I shouldn’t, I prefer to do it by myself.

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  10. Berzerker

    I must have worded it wrong, because I think you misunderstood. I’m not that way around friends or other people I know and trust. But strangers touching me on the shoulder or standing too close, or staring me in the face unnerves me. I’ll be polite to their face but once they turn their back think “God, I thought they’d never leave.” And my behavior should not be related to mental illness, especially when you look at other cultures that have very similar ways: Hmong or Hindi, for example. My behavior has not hindered my ability to hold a steady job, go outside or be a functioning member of society. So, to be frank, what would really make me feel better would be if loud invasive people would leave us shy people alone.

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  11. zthrust

    Ladies,

    As a man I would never seek to make my partner uncomfortable about the way they eat and what they eat. I would, if appropriate, suggest better eating habits and workout habits for my partner. My lifestyle is pretty active so I don’t know than an inactive person would even LIKE to be my partner but should that ever be the case I would accept them for who they are.

    Love is a much more powerful force for change than control of someone else through anxiety, fear, and belittling. If you feel your boyfriend is doing this to you have a talk with him and see if he just wants you to be healthier. If this is the case tell him that YOU are handling it and he need not worry. If he’s obviously a jerk or indignant concerning your weight and makes you feel as if you could never be fit/healthy/beautiful then I’ll come right out and say it.

    Leave, he does not care about you.

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  12. zthrust

    Since I’m a complete stranger I’ll be honest. The behaviour you described is not you “just being you” but rather a sign of psychological trauma and unresolved issues.

    You would probably feel a lot better concerning a lot of things in your life if you went to a talk therapist. What your ex-boyfriend from junior high did is wrong (whether he knew it or not). Making someone feel bad about the way they eat is never the way to inspire true healthy change within them.

    You should not feel bad or ashamed about what you eat, what you love doing and who you are, ever.

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  13. vitriol&verveine

    Yes, I guess it’s due to the upbringing. I never had any problem like that – on the contrary, I really like my meals to be kind of social events (with family, friends or the boyfriend). But my parents owned a restaurant when I was young, so eating in front of people and with other people is totally natural for me.

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  14. Todd Pliss

    A shame that so many women feel that way. People need to chill out and just enjoy life. If a guy is critical of what a women eats and makes her so self-confident, then that guy needs to be dumped ASAP! It’s especially sad that teen girls are put under so much pressure to be thin.

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  15. myskinnyfiles

    My boyfriend and I set the table for every meal and eat together. I don’t feel uncomfortable or shy regarding undressing. However, I do feel like I’m on a diet a good number of times. I don’t choose low calorie meals, but I just choose smaller portion sizes. I never eat low fat or non-fat or sugar-free products.

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  16. emedoutlet

    Hey… Undressing may be OK… But eating….! it really strange. Even I feel the numbers are very high.

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  17. Jim F.

    What are you afraid of?

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  18. Susan

    In general, no, I don’t have any problems eating in front of people. However, I think I go the opposite when I’m with a certain group of friends. I tend to eat more and less healthy with these friends because after I lost a lot of weight (80 lbs so that I’m now about 115 lbs at 5’2″), they all thought I was too thin and I had lost too much. So I feel like I have to show them that I do eat and that I don’t always eat the “good” foods. So I tend to use that time as one of my cheat days.

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  19. Lana

    I have no problems whatsoever eating in front of people. Maybe it was the just the way I was raised.

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  20. mariabrake

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    Reply
  21. looo

    The only time im uncomfortable is if im in a very formal dinner setting, where “proper etiquette” is expected.. its all too pretentious and snobbish for me.

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  22. Berzerker

    I had a boyfriend in junior high that would make fun of me if I ever ate a salad in front of him; he was always calling me “too thin”, and I think he was hoping the constant nagging to eat more would help (It didn’t).
    I still hate eating in front of anyone, but I’ve been extremely shy and reserved my whole life. I’ll usually blush if people ask me personal questions, I’ll only look people in the eye because I feel I have to (personally, I feel it is invasive) and I really don’t like people touching me either. Just who I am, so I guess I’m not a good example to use for the poll or whatever, because I know I’m not the norm. (Wait, than why did I type all that!)

    Reply
  23. Spectra

    Back when I was in high school, I didn’t mind it so much because I only had to eat in front of my family and my friends. I never dated anyone back then. When I started dating, I’d always eat very petite amounts in front of my dates so they would think that I wasn’t a pig. I still don’t mind eating in front of my family and other women too much, but somehow the idea of eating a lot in front of my husband makes me cringe a little bit.

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  24. Jim F.

    When can you first remember feeling uncomfortable eating in front of someone?

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  25. Sam

    I don’t mind eating in front of my spouse but I have a hard time eating in front of dinner guests and in public. Especially if I dont know them well.

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  26. Spectra

    I eat in front of my husband, but I don’t really feel comfortable doing it. I never have–I think it makes me less sexy somehow or something. Obviously, I do eat in front of him or I’d starve, but I prefer it if he’s already sleeping or gone when I’m eating.

    Reply
  27. bijou

    “Are you comfortable eating in front of your partner?”

    Yes, very. And maybe too much so. I find that I eat substantially more when I am dining with him. I only see him a few times a week, so when we dine together, it feels almost celebratory.

    On the other hand, I am rather restrictive with my diet for most of the week. And yes, I feel as if I am constantly dieting because I am – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

    Reply