The Truth About Food Challenges

Spoiler Alert – Sorry to burst the food challenge bubble but there are a few truths about food challenges that is not reported on.  For those who get queasy talking about bodily functions, vomit and so forth, then it is highly recommended that you leave this page now.  For those of you who giggle at the thought of someone else’s pain, then read on…
Every now and then the media reports on the latest food challenges across the country.  While it generates a few laughs and discussions about who could achieve such notoriety the outcome can be very different to the honour of having their name etched the wall of fame of a local eatery.
The human body is an amazing machine.  As a species, it is survival of the fittest but as an individual, every cell in our body is fighting for survival every second of every day.  We have mechanisms in place to ensure we survive.  Our messenger molecules, otherwise known as hormones, are responsible for controlling our appetite and there’s one called Leptin, that tells us when we are full.
Our stomachs have a volume of about 1-1.5 litres but can expand as much as 4-5 litres.  The food that people are faced with in a food challenge can be as much as between 15-20 litres.  So what happens when we eat too much?
Our body’s natural mechanisms have been designed to stop us from eating too much so when we override this mechanism the body’s next step is to rid itself of the excess food by vomiting.  If we don’t vomit the excess food, then it puts so much pressure on the walls of the stomach that it can rupture.  Once the stomach is torn then its contents, including partially digested food and hydrochloric acid, seeps into the abdominal cavity causing all sorts of problems including infection and intense pain.
The only remedy once the body has reached this point is surgical intervention.  Past food challenges have seen people die from a burst stomach.  You don’t see that on the wall of fame!  This is not the only cause of death from these food challenges.  Several years ago, an Australian man suffered a heart attack during a food challenge.  His last words were “jeez, this chilli pie is hot”.   People have died from choking on simple food challenges such as eating seemingly harmless cupcakes.  Airway obstruction from food isn’t the only cause of choking, people have also died choking on their own vomit.
One recent food challenge involved eating a 3.5kg burger.  The media reported this as being equivalent to eating a new born baby.  Think about a pregnant woman’s stomach at full term and try fitting that into your 1 litre stomach.  Hopefully, even those foolish enough to try these food challenges will understand what this means for themselves and they re-evaluate by asking – is it really worth it??

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