Hunger as a drive away from home

Among the feelings that drive people away from their countries, we also find the feeling of hunger.

Looking for a definition of this word, I found the Cambridge dictionary, which says the following: “a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat”, “the feeling you have when you need to eat”, “a situation in which the body does not have enough food”. The description of this physiological need is followed by the next nuance of the word: “a strong wish or desire”. 

I am approaching this feeling of hunger because I meet it quite often in my therapy room. People use this hunger for various reasons and in different forms, and to cover other needs as well, not only the one that is meant to keep the physical body alive.

Which is the main reason we feel it. Hunger is one of the first physiological human needs—the third in line after air and water. Without food, we cannot survive. Therefore, after the way food distribution looks like today, many people would do anything to have food on the table. Proof for that we have the history books, which mention times of hunger during and after wars or plagues. We see it today in countries with no war, but with severe dictatorship and corruption in its pure form.

Many people still do not have access to education and jobs, do not earn enough to put food on the table. Just take a trip outside the western world and outside the tourist areas in third-world countries, where things are not shined and polished, and it will stare in your face.

Hunger is one of those feelings which also chases people away from home. To make a move to another house, neighborhood, city, country, to feed themselves and their family. The lack of food in particular countries has made it a commodity that people would like to show.

We see on TV and travel channels or read in books how hospitable people from developing countries are and how welcoming. If you’re a guest there, people will put in front of you whatever they have best, even if they know that they won’t have enough for themselves tomorrow. It is a paradox and challenging to understand. Why?

What makes poor people more generous than people considered rich? From how I understand this behavior, in a country where food is scarce, showing that one house has food to give is a sign of wealth. Keeping up appearances is essential everywhere, no matter the cost.

Beauty standards are also different. A friend from Africa told me once that a chubby person is considered rich because that person needs to have a lot of money to buy that much food to maintain plumpness. Therefore, chubby is beautiful there.

On the other hand, in Switzerland, I have heard from another friend that doctors don’t even look at overweight people. The amount of extra kilos is a sign of illness. It means that people wearing them do not take care of themselves, do not exercise, and eat unhealthy food. Becoming sick is a result of that. Therefore, they need to lose weight first before the doctors take them seriously.

Hunger implies food not only in the strict way of survival. Food is also a big part of each country’s culture. If we travel, we want to taste the local food. If we are foreigners in a foreign land, we are asked about our traditional food. I, for once, am tired of speaking about it, yet I understand that it is a good conversation subject, and the way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs.

Food brings a common subject to talk about, a tasty experience, and a way of being together safely. Many problems of the world are solved and stirred around a dinner table.

Have you ever wondered why do we make more food than necessary, especially around holidays? Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Ramadan, and all the other holidays that exist in each country?

It is a celebration, we can say, and yes, it is nice to celebrate with food. However, is it necessary to make more than we need? Or to eat more than we need, for that matter? What causes this behavior? The first reason that comes to my mind is that many people come from families who have suffered from hunger at some point. If you think for a moment, when you lack something, with the first occasion you have to meet that need which was not satisfied for a long time, what is it that you do first? You buy it and use it in excess quantities so finally your need is met. And you are going to do this until you feel satisfied and suddenly, you don’t feel like needing that something, because you’ve had it for so long and in so large quantities that you’re saturated. It is the same with food.

Therefore, people who come from countries or families where food was scarce will make more food than necessary because in their subconscious lies that fear of starvation which was very present in their families at a particular time in history. Few people think it trough now, and call the excess of food making “tradition”. Yet, the times we live in today look nothing like they did 20 or 50 years ago.

Many people do not even realize this behavior and the reason behind it. If you read this article and you know that this perhaps happens in your family, maybe it could be a good idea to do some research and find out when some of your great grandparents or even parents have suffered from hunger? Then, you can think about if that is the case today, and if really, it is necessary to use that much amount of time, energy, and money to prepare or buy food that may end up in the trash.

I also noticed that many parents show their love to their children by making them the foods they like. They also think that putting food on the table is all a child needs and nothing more. Many parents prefer to sacrifice their time with their children for an extra job that brings more money and more food—not often realizing that the child may use that food to compensate for the lack of emotions they are supposed to receive from their parents. 

Or these children are using food to regulate the fluctuation and the unstable emotional ground created by overworked parents or single parents, or absent parents. That leads to a behavior, which clinically is called Eating Disorder, and I am speaking about it in my next article.

The lack of food the parents are trying to fill by working too much, just as well as the lack of emotions, these children are trying to fill when they decide to travel away from home. Most of them dream of better lives so they can offer (save) their parents from too much work. It is a way of wanting “to buy” the parents love, buy earning enough money to buy them food, and much more than food. This “hunger” extends to houses, properties, or successful businesses. Nothing wrong with it, I just think it is important to know where it comes from and what provoked both the travel away from home and the hunger, and hunger for what, exactly.

Therefore, hunger means much more than just keeping us alive. If you have more perspectives on this issue, please share them by leaving a comment underneath, or you can let me know in confidence by signing up for a chat here.

I wish you a balanced life!

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