Due to the “complete meal instruction” of school lunches in childhood… The real story told by a person with “fear of eating in front of others”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Due to the “complete meal instruction” of school lunches in childhood… The real story told by a person with “fear of eating in front of others”.

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The more impatient they get, the more they choke, the more nauseous they feel…

There are people who find dining at meetings distressing. When they eat in public or with other people, they become anxious and nervous, and experience nausea, stomach pain, and difficulty swallowing.

Many of them cite school lunch programs and club activities that force them to “eat without leaving any leftovers” as the trigger for the onset of their phobia. Tomonori Nakanishi, 48, a hospital employee living in the Kansai region, is one such person who developed a fear of eating out after being instructed to finish all meals at elementary school.

In the first and second grades of elementary school, Mr. Nakanishi felt pressured by his homeroom teacher to “eat everything without leaving any leftovers,” and school lunch time became a painful experience for him. Although he had always had a small appetite, he had no particular likes or dislikes.

The teacher’s words, ‘Don’t leave anything out,’ felt like a compulsion to me,” he said.

I felt trapped, and the more I rushed to eat within the lunch period, the harder it became to get through. In the end, I couldn’t finish my food, so I was given detention until I had eaten all of it. I hated it when my classmates would look at me and ask, ‘Why can’t you eat? I hated being noticed by my classmates and being asked, ‘Why can’t you eat?

I felt like I was under duress,” says Nakanishi, recalling his elementary school days.

The reason I couldn’t eat was not because I had a picky eater or because I didn’t like the food at school. It was hard for people around me not to understand that.

In the upper grades, I would give reasons such as a cold or a sore throat and ask for a reduction in the amount of school lunches.

In junior high and high school, I had to take my lunch box, and people didn’t say anything to me if I left something behind, so I didn’t have to worry about it. But when I went out with my friends on holidays and ate with them, I had a hard time.

Although I would order the same menu items to keep pace with everyone else, my memories of school lunch instruction in elementary school led to an obsessive need to finish eating at the same time as everyone else. The fear of eating late and being the center of attention makes me feel sick.

I have never actually thrown up in public. But while I’m eating, I feel anxious all the time about what I will do if I throw up.

Wanting to do something to cure this symptom, he went to a psychosomatic medicine clinic while still in high school. He was diagnosed with panic disorder and took medication. However, his symptoms did not improve, and he continued to have problems during his college life.

I had a hard time at compas. It was easier to drink at pubs because people didn’t notice if I didn’t eat much, but it was hard to eat at a dinner party where each person was served a plate of food. Looking back, I think I turned down half of the invitations.

Experienced a job change due to “food”…

After graduating from university, he started working for a logistics company, but changed jobs because of the food he ate.

I left that company after less than a year.

About three years ago, Mr. Nakanishi became aware that he had a phobia of dining out. This was triggered by information he came across on the Internet from the “Japan Association to Help People Overcome Fear of Eating Out.

The association’s website explains the phobia as follows

One of the social anxiety disorders. The patient feels strong tension and anxiety at the mere thought of dining with others or at the mere thought of such a situation, and the patient’s social life, including work, friendship, and love life, is interfered with by trying to avoid such anxiety for six months or longer.

Now, 40 years after the onset of the disease, Nakanishi says that his symptoms “sometimes appear and sometimes do not appear,” and he repeats this cycle.

In my case, when I am scheduled to go out to dinner, my health gets progressively worse as the day gets closer. On the day of the dinner, I usually end up going to the dinner in the worst condition.

But even if I am in bad shape, after the dinner, I am always glad that I didn’t run away. That is why I try not to turn down invitations to dinner.

Although he has yet to overcome his phobia of dining out, Mr. Nakanishi feels that he has overcome a difficult situation.

Until now, I was bound by the idea that overcoming the phobia meant being able to eat normally, ” he says, ” but as I listened to the experiences of others with the same symptoms, I began to think that the form of overcoming the phobia was different for everyone. Now I accept my phobia of eating out and try to get along with it.”

I had symptoms at a ramen restaurant and couldn’t even eat half of my meal…” “Tomorrow I have a drinking party…” “I’m anxious and my autonomic nervous system is in a state of disorder. I’m so anxious that my autonomic nervous system is all over the place,” said a party member with a phobia of eating out on social networking sites… (Photo: Image)

I was surprised that there are so many people with the same problem.

The “Japan Association to Help People Overcome Fear of Eating Out” was the catalyst for Mr. Nakanishi’s discovery of fear of eating out. Kenta Yamaguchi, 30, the representative of the association, also has a phobia of eating at meals.

In Yamaguchi’s case, it was not school lunches that triggered his phobia, but rather the coaching of his high school baseball team.

One of the club’s training programs was called ‘food training,’ and at a training camp we were supposed to eat two cups of white rice each for breakfast and lunch, and three cups at night. At the first training camp, I didn’t eat enough rice, and the coach blamed me in front of the whole club for not eating. After that, I began to experience symptoms such as nausea just by imagining the scene of eating,” says Yamaguchi.

However, he found a clue to improvement when he was in college.

When I was a university student, I had a part-time job at a restaurant. But I was the only one who couldn’t eat at all, and the time we all spent eating together was just painful. I took the plunge and talked to the restaurant staff, and they told me, ‘Don’t force yourself. Eat only what you can eat.

I felt as if he understood that I couldn’t eat. I felt much better after that one word from the restaurant, and the amount of food I could eat gradually increased.

When her symptoms had improved considerably, she found a post on a social networking service by someone else with the same problem as hers. He researched in books and on the Internet and learned that there is a mental disorder called “fear of eating at meetings.

At the same time, I found that there was very little information about fear of eating out, so I decided to share my experiences and the knowledge I had gained from my studies on my blog and social networking sites. When I started my activities, I received many responses. I was surprised to see how many people were suffering from the same problem.

In 2005, Yamaguchi established the “Japan Association to Help People Overcome Fear of Eating Out” in order to support those who have experienced the phobia of eating out. Currently, in addition to disseminating information through e-mail newsletters and SNS, holding consultation meetings and counseling sessions, lectures, and running a community for those affected, she also serves as editor-in-chief of “Kyuken|Monthly School Lunch Instruction Training Materials” and provides information, training, and lectures on school lunch instruction to teachers and educators.

Although the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has indicated its policy on school lunch guidance in the “Guide to Guidance on Food – Second Revised Edition,” teachers in the field…

The “complete meal instruction” of forced behavior that seems to be a story of the Showa period and continues to this day in Reiwa.

According to a survey conducted by the Japan Association for Supporting Overcoming Fear of Eating Disorders in ’19, 34.7% of respondents answered that the cause of their fear of eating out was “coercion from others or instruction to finish eating out. Of those, 72.1% said it was “from teachers at school lunch.

I think the school lunch program is changing. In the past, it was ‘let’s eat without leaving any leftovers,’ but now it seems that the teachers tell the children before they eat that they can reduce the amount if it is too much.

However, I still hear about the instruction to make students eat in detention. I have heard that parents exchange information with each other, such as, ‘I heard that the homeroom teacher in that class is very strict about school lunches.

Chapter 5, “Guidance on Food during School Lunch Time,” in the “Guide to Guidance on Food – Second Revised Edition,” revised by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2007, states that the role of the classroom homeroom teacher is “to provide a time for students to eat together with their friends and homeroom teachers in a friendly and enjoyable manner. (omitted). (It is important to create a safe eating environment for students on a daily basis.

In the training sessions for teachers, I have the impression that almost no teachers in the field have read the MEXT’s handbook. Some nutrition teachers seem to have read it, but classroom teachers probably don’t have the time or the mentality to look at it.

I think the teachers who give detentions are probably strictly enforcing their own policies, for goodness sake.

Although the teachers may be “well-meaning,” it is surprising to learn that coercion and forcing are still prevalent even in the Reiwa era.

It would be nice if everyone had a common understanding that forcing people to do something is not a good idea. If that happens, I think the number of people who suffer from the phobia of going out to dinner will decrease.

Has Mr. Yamaguchi himself overcome his phobia of eating out?

I think I have overcome my phobia of eating out because I do not experience any symptoms that interfere with my social life.

There are many parties who aim to be able to enjoy a dinner meeting. That’s great, but as I approach things on my own, I may come to think, ‘I don’t mind. I’m not good at eating with other people, so I’ll just go my own pace.’ In a way , I think that is one form of overcoming.”

Whenever Ms. Yamaguchi receives a consultation from a patient, there is one thing she always tells them.

Whenever she receives a consultation from a patient, Ms. Yamaguchi always tells them, “I want you not to blame yourself. As was the case with myself, people who are suffering from this condition tend to think, ‘I’m a bad person for not being able to eat. Blaming yourself will not solve the problem. It will only lower their self-esteem and make them more prone to symptoms.

That’s why I always tell them that they don’t need to blame themselves.

Kenta Yamag uchi is the president of the “Japan Association to Support Overcoming Fear of Eating Together,” the editor-in-chief of “Kyuken,” a monthly magazine on meal service guidance and training materials, and a psychological counselor. Based on his own experience of overcoming “fear of eating out,” he provides counseling to people suffering from fear of eating out and consulting on school lunch programs for schools and nursery schools. He is the author of “A Textbook on Eating Disorder that Makes Life Easier for Both Children and Parents” (Seishun Shuppansha) and “Manga de Wakaru: A Child Who Won’t Eat Can Be Changed by Magic Words” (Tatsumi Shuppan), among others.

Click here for the website of the Japan Association to Support Overcoming Fears of Eating Disorders.

For the website of ” Kyuken|Monthly School Lunch Guidance and Training Materials,” click here.

  • Interview and text by Sayuri Saito PHOTO Afro

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