Ready, Set, Eat!

There seems to be an everlasting obsession with eating contests: wieners, sauerkraut, pickles, devilled eggs, and pies, they all have a turn at being devoured in a matter of minutes. I’ve always been fascinated about this concept, especially when thinking about how these Guiness Book of World Record seekers rehearse for their big race, how they handle the stress of overeating in a short amount of time, thereby overriding satiety and various other cues, and what the aftermath of such an extreme act on the body might resemble. I searched in the scientific literature in hopes of finding some research on these questions, but few scientists find this topic area as intriguing as I do. Having very little information to go on, I will try to hypothesize what might be occurring in the bodies of those who engage in eating contests of any kind:

1) Overeating without attention to satiety cues may lead to an attenuation of these cues, thereby resulting in frequent overeating episodes and leading to excess weight gain over time. Obesity can lead to insulin resistance and problems in glucose metabolism, as well as cardiac complications and other health conditions such as sleep apnea, arthritis, and high blood pressure

2) Overeating of one type of food on a frequent basis (for the purpose of rehearsals) may lead to nutrient deficiencies as contest food displaces other food choices in the diet

3) In instances where contest food is a fluid, over-drinking may lead water intoxication or to a condition referred to as hyponatremia (low blood sodium), which in some instances can be lethal (recall the incident with the lady who drank so much water for a free Nintendo system, and died later that day from this condition) as well as other electrolyte imbalances

4) Overeating hot dogs or pies which have a significant fat content may lead to fatty liver, which if untreated, can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of liver tissue)

5) Overeating on salty foods may lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) – one pickle has 1400mg of sodium which is over half of our daily sodium allowance!

6) Overeating, which constitutes a high glycemic load, results in a spikes of insulin release, a response which may over time be exhausted, possibly leading to impaired glucose metabolism

I say to all those thrill seekers out there, who use food as their vehicle for setting records: quit while you are ahead.


About danirenouf

I have been a registered dietitian since 2003, and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in industry, clinical nutrition, public health, and private practice. Currently, I am extremely excited about pursuing entrepreneurial ventures which start with my private consulting practice and branch out into the food and culinary industry. I am busy every day developing my own food products and recipes, adapting traditional cooking techniques and incorporating new and innovative ways to prepare nutritious, delicious food. I am passionate about everything food-related, and aspire to engage others in "getting to know their food" - not all of us are cooks, or need to be, but all of us need to eat.
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2 Responses to Ready, Set, Eat!

  1. suigeneris23 says:

    Ooh Dani, nice post! I think I might suffer from attenuation of satiety cues…. My friend recently participated in an ice cream sandwich eating contest, so I’ll have to warn her not to do it again…..

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