Grocery Store Anxiety and Binge Eating Disorder

October 16, 2016 Grace Bialka

The grocery store can be a place full of anxiety for those who suffer from any type of eating disorder. Even in recovery I can still become overwhelmed when I have to make my weekly shopping trip. Over time I have found effective anxiety coping skills that help me navigate the aisles and lessen my anxieties.

Does Everyone Know I'm Buying Binge Food?

There was one point in time during the use of my binge eating behaviors that I would stop at the store everyday to pick up my nightly binge food. As much as I hated doing this, my compulsion to binge was much higher than the anxiety I felt walking through the grocery store.

From the moment I stepped through the door I felt like all eyes were on me. I assumed everyone knew exactly what I was doing and why I was buying the food I was. I kept my eyes down, moving as quickly as possible to get what I needed and get out of there.

Going to check out was always the worst part for me. I was filled with shame and embarrassment as the cashier scanned each of my items. I imagined the judgment they were placing on me for purchasing the kind of food I was. In reality, they probably didn't think twice about me or my groceries (With Anxiety, Are Your Thoughts Trustworthy?).

The grocery store can be an anxiety provoking experience for anyone suffering from binge eating disorder. Here are some tips to make your shopping trip easier.

Going to the Grocery Store as a Recovered Binge Eater

Going to buy my groceries each week still brings overwhelming feelings of anxiety but now that I am free of my behaviors I am able to get through the store without too much trouble.

There is a certain amount of temptation that still lingers when I see the items I previously binged on. When I see these things I simply take a deep breath and keep walking. I do not give them the power they used to possess. These foods used to control my life and occupy majority of my thoughts. Why should a certain food take up this much of my being? The answer, it shouldn't. It is not worth it and freeing yourself from this feeling will make a huge difference in your quality of life.

Things to Make Your Shopping Trip Less Anxiety Provoking

Over time I have discovered a few things that help to make my shopping trips less of a stressful experience.

The first is going with a friend or family member if possible. This keeps me accountable for what I am buying. They know my issues around food and will clearly know if I slip and put foods in my cart with the intention of binging. Always make sure this is a safe person, someone who is there to support you and will not be hard on you if you do begin to experience panic.

I have also found that changing my grocery store has been helpful. These days I try to go somewhere smaller with less tempting foods, but somewhere that still has what I need for a well balanced eating plan. Another advantage to a smaller store is being able to get through it quicker for times when you are feeling overwhelmed.

The last tip I have is make a list and stick to it. Doing this will keep you organized and keep your mind at ease knowing you got the things you needed and nothing that could lead to a potential binge.

I hope some of these strategies work for you. Lessening anxiety at the grocery store is possible, it may just take some time. Remember, no one is analyzing what is in your shopping cart. Most of the time we are our own worst critics. Keep working towards recovery, even the seemingly smallest victories count.

Find Grace on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and on her personal blog.


APA Reference
Bialka, G. (2016, October 16). Grocery Store Anxiety and Binge Eating Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Grace Bialka

Grace Bialka is a dance teacher and blogger in the Chicago suburbs. She graduated with a BA in dance from Western Michigan University. Grace has lived with an eating disorder and depression since the age of 14. She began writing in hopes of spreading awareness about eating disorders and mental illness. She firmly believes in the healing power of movement. Find Grace on TwitterFacebook, and her personal blog.

Ted O'Donnell
October, 16 2016 at 5:23 am

I'm a cashier at a huge grocery store. When shopping, I try to stay away from the center of the store and stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and fish or poultry. It doesn't always work. .... You're absolutely right too. I don't worry about a person's eating habits.

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