Self-soothing, yes, and that’s not a uniquely American thing either.
Americans do not have the monopoly on misery and shitty childhoods, alas, but the food quality is certainly much worse in the US than it is in Europe, A. Nonymous.
I’m no stranger to eating disorders as I have witnessed family members struggle with both anorexia and bulimia. This is how they deal with repressed trauma, either because it’s a holdover from a terrible childhood (my mom) or something that was passed on (my dad). His father, my Papi, was a POW in Nazi forced labor camps; as a result, Papi remained afraid of lack and always stockpiled food, a behavior my father has inherited even though he has never known hunger or wartime. My stepbro and I call my dad’s pantry the mini-market as it is literally a small grocery store. He compulsively buys things in multiples. Even if I ask him to bring me a tube of toothpaste, he will bring at least two. When I asked him if a chocolate bar I remembered as a kid still existed and if he could bring me one back, he brought a family pack of ten. That’s my dad.
My own relationship with food is a little extreme for some as I learned to eat only one meal a day and I know exactly how many days I can go without food. Hipsters call it intermittent fasting, I call it being too poor to eat three meals a day and afford health care. I tend to use food as a form of health insurance and I’ve also experienced hunger when I lived in the Azores, which was an eye-opening experience. That’s when I realized that we probably all eat too much anyway and adjusted my own eating habits accordingly.
To this day, I’m still not sanguine about my ability to fund three meals a day so I’m sticking with what I know. So far, my annual blood works indicate that I am healthy but for very low ferritin levels. I’m neither underweight nor overweight but I occasionally have problems keeping weight on because stress kills my appetite.
And if I’m not hungry, I simply don’t eat, it either won’t go down or if it does, it comes right back up or, um, out the other end. Sorry, probably TMI but I wanted to clarify that my piece wasn’t unsympathetic toward those who suffer from eating disorders.