I can see through people who experienced hunger

13 April, 2024

4 min read


Last updated on 13 April, 2024

Berlin is the city of people who often have issues to grow up. They remain teenagers forever. It's very easy to remain a teenager in that place – you have an abundance of distractive gimmicks, access to anything human nature can desire.

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
— Herbert Simon

From the moment you enter the ring, your focus is highly challenged. People usually lose that competition... Doesn't matter how high is your salary, you remain poor anyway.

I've used to think that money can outbid live problems, and yes, they do. Only one problem they can't do anything about, is "life time" problem (like "mortality" problem). I'm sure that rich guys in rich places are already fully occupied with the solution of that problem, as well...

While they are still in progress, Berlin continues to bring endless joy in exchange of money. Often, customers forgot that the bill contains the second currency – their life time.

Attention / time is the universal currency of life. Everyone understands that: every live being. You can test it with your pets or with wild animals, or even with insects. It's a language that everyone can speak.

But people in Berlin somehow seem to forgot (or maybe not caring). And the city becomes a Neverland – with each guy walking there as Peter Pan.

It's fairly common there to meet a person who looks like in twenties and then discovers they are in their forties. There should be Lord of the Rings elves joke about that.

I feel that effect on myself. The more money I have – the more challenging it is to avoid buying toys which I always dreamed about. My first challenge was the food. The article is about food and hunger trauma, so let me tell some things about that.

Throwing away food feels like a criminal act against humanity

I notice people who have the same beliefs when I notice they can't leave food on the plate. It has different degrees of severity. Sometimes when with a soup or some dish you're given a plate of bread, that kind of people pay attention to finish that bread as well. They can look rich and do rich things, but then I notice how they eat.

This is a strong sign of person, who has experienced hunger or who has grown up in a family where food was a limited resource.

Sometimes those people tend to have strong shame associated with their food behaviours. They can be even a little overweight and judge themselves thinking they are lazy.

Growing up, I can recall that my grandfather always had special feelings to food. Food was his "love language". When we hanged out together, he always tried to give me some treat and we always visited supermarket together, where he tried to buy me anything I want. I always tried to be mindful about that, but it was hard... since I was a kid and I loved treats. My grandmother has the same "love language". Her food is very nutritious and she pays a lot of attention to how it tastes. It's very easy to become overweight... which I did.

Then, in my teen ages I met "hunger issue" with my own eyes. I've had a privilege to do swimming and I dreamt to become a champion. Maybe not in main category, but in disabled category because I have vision issues. I did my trainings diligently and I have always wanted to eat. In school kitchen I ate all the bread they give us during the lunch. And in my home I first time heard that "I eat too much" and that I should be more caring about that matter because I have little sister and brother, and I should leave something to them.

Poor summer child, which was me, was really frustrated to hear such words. I genuinely decided it's personal and my step-mother just hates me and wants me to starve. And there is no room for me in my family.

It formulated my food issues. When I become a little bit rich in my early twenties, I wasted all my money on food.

I think, I checked every cool restaurant in Kyiv back then. I did food delivery every day and sometimes even several times a day.

My flex with food left my body not in the best shape, obviously.

Recognising and grieving. Search for meanings in food

I could overcome that by becoming poor again. I had collected some money to sustain myself for 6 month and locked in my room studying software engineering.

My calculations went wrong, half a year passed and still noone wanted to bring me to do some job for money. I understand employers side of thing – our computer science students study 4 years and they are great and in big abundance. What's the point to pick me onboard?

So I didn't have money left for food, only to pay rent. And I didn't want bother anyone to ask for help, I had only Maryna (my spouse) close to me. I couldn't ask her for money or for anything because it was too big of a shame, so she understood me and just travelled to my apartment once a week and cooked for me some food.

She cooked a borsch for me, this famous Ukrainian dish, and this was a true language of love. Once she did me dumplings with cherries. I even recorded on a video how she does that – it's a several steps process and she has beautiful hands.

So this stuff helped to pass through and land my first job with a salary.

The previous association with a food (food needs to satisfy hunger) was gone and new connection was formulated. The new connection is that the food is a way to bond and support, to express love.

Sometimes I am too careful with that thing when people give me free food because it tends to formulate strong relationships. I try not to pick any free food, especially, from people I don't trust. When I share food, I also am very cautious, like what do I share, is it really good... Overthinking the process.

In some random life events, the easiest way to establish a friendship is to exchange food with a person. 1 time is enough to understand everything about relationships and insecurities of both parties.

When I see people who have food issues, I grieve. I'd like to reach out to them and say that I support them and they shouldn't feel any shame associated with their food behaviours. They are not to blame.

Be kind to yourself.

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Troy Köhler