Holocaust Survivors Report Long-Term Effects on Attitudes toward Food
A M Y J. S I N D L E R, MS, RD;1 N A N C Y S. W E L L M A N, P H D, RD, FADA;2 O R E N B A R U C H S T I E R, P H D3
Peace Corps, Lesotho, Africa; 2National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, Florida International University, Miami, Florida; 3Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University, Miami, Florida
Objective: To gather information from survivors on the effects that the Holocaust had on their current attitudes toward food. Design: Qualitative study: one-on-one semistructured interviews with a script shaped by a pilot study. Setting: South Florida homes and community sites, including the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial. Participants: Convenience sample of 25 Holocaust survivors: 14 men, 11 women; ages 71 to 85 years. Phenomenon of Interest: Current attitudes toward food in relation to Holocaust experiences. Analysis: Themes and illustrative quotations from transcriptions of audiotaped interviews. Results: Food attitudes were influenced by Holocaust experiences. Five themes emerged: (1) difficulty throwing food away, even when spoiled; (2) storing excess food; (3) craving certain food(s); (4) difficulty standing in line for food; and (5) experiencing anxiety when food is not readily available. Empathy for those currently suffering from hunger was also reported. Conclusions and Implications: Food-related issues from the Holocaust remain for survivors. Now in their 70s and 80s, many use health care and related services. Nutritionists, educators, and health professionals should be aware of such issues. Food and nutrition programs should minimize uncomfortable food-related situations for Holocaust survivors and others who experienced food deprivation. KEY WORDS: Holocaust survivors, food attitudes, food deprivation,
References: 1. Holocaust Learning Center. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Available at: http://www.ushmm.org. Accessed May 14, 2003. 2. Gutman I, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company; 1990.