Whether you are exercising, in a relationship, working on a project, or doing just about anything else, if you do the same thing over and over again, constantly repeating without ever mixing things up and doing something new, you are going to get bored and really burnt out. The same theory also applies to eating food challenges. Even if you are eating your absolute favorite food, you are going to eventually get tired of the flavor if you eat enough of it. If you attempt to eat five pounds of chocolate, you might feel like you are in heaven while eating those first three pounds, but you are going to hate chocolate once all of that sugar hits you along with intense “flavor fatigue.” I try not to quote websites like Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary that often, but Urban Dictionary nailed the definition of flavor fatigue which is, “The feeling of boredom one experiences after eating some percentage of a (usually) large portion of food that has pushed their taste buds to the limits of tolerance for the same food.” Food challengers and competitive eaters experience this feeling very often due to the extreme amounts of food that we eat during our competitions. I’ll be the first to say that I experience it all the time. To be successful at winning food challenges though, you have to be able to overcome that feeling and keep eating until the challenge is complete. Luckily, there are multiple things you can do to minimize flavor fatigue so that you can keep your taste buds intrigued while you power through the rest of the meal and achieve the victory.

The first thing you can do is to simply switch up what you are eating so that you can experience a different flavor for a while, and then go back to finishing what you were initially eating. For example, let’s say you are attempting a large 72 ounce steak challenge which includes a steak, baked potato, side salad, roll, and side of cocktail shrimp. Following the most effective strategy, you would focus on eating the steak first while it is warm and juicy before eating all of the sides. After finishing the first three pounds of steak, if you begin to get tired of the flavor, switch things up for a little bit and eat the cocktail shrimp, which is still meat. You can also eat the side salad!! Then go back to eating the steak and finish it before it gets cold and dry. If you are eating a large burger challenge with a massive burger patty, proper strategy says to start by eating the large burger patty while it is also warm and juicy. If you get tired of the flavor, eat the toppings that were included with it such as the lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes. You can also eat the side of coleslaw if there is one. If your meal includes multiple components with multiple flavors, switch to something else if you get tired of one thing. By only eating items you are required to finish, you avoid adding extra sauces and drinking extra liquids which just take up additional room in your stomach. Keep switching things up until you are finished with the challenge!!

Now let’s go back to the steak challenge mentioned above and say that you finished the shrimp and side salad, but went back to finish the steak just to find that it is now cold, dry, and flavorless. At this point, eating it along with the baked potato isn’t really going to help much. You need to add sauce!! The second thing you can do to minimize flavor fatigue is to simply add your favorite sauce and either pour it on top of your food or add it to the side and just dip every other bite in it. You may even need to use two different sauces and keep switching between those. If you are attempting a burrito challenge and there is both salsa and sour cream available, add one or both of those (if you like them) to the burrito once you start getting tired of the flavor. If you finished that big burger mentioned above and can’t stand the taste of the cold french fries that you still have to finish, dip them in ketchup or barbecue sauce!! If you can’t simply switch to a different required component of the challenge for a while, add some sauce and finish up what you are working on. A little bit of sauce won’t really take up extra room in your stomach, but some sauces add a lot of extra calories so be careful about that if you are trying to minimize the excess weight gain due to the large amount of calories in the challenge already.

Many times during your food challenges, you can simply switch to something else or add your favorite sauce to keep your taste buds intrigued, but there are other times that you can’t. When attempting simple challenges that don’t involve multiple items such as pasta, soup, and ice cream challenges, you can’t really just switch to something else or add sauce. If you get tired of the flavor during these types of challenges, and you can do this will all other challenges too of course, use different drinks and beverages to keep switching up the flavor. During all of my challenges, I start with a glass of water, a glass of a non-carbonated flavored beverage such as lemonade or fruit punch, and then I have a low calorie carbonated drink such as diet soda. If I am eating a really greasy and salty pizza challenge, I make sure to have a sugary beverage such as lemonade because the intense sweetness helps cut the greasy and salty flavor that really gets tiring quickly. If I am attempting an ice cream, I order a cup of black coffee to sip just in case I get tired of the flavor. I usually don’t need anything but warm water during ice cream challenges though. Your choice(s) of beverages is completely up to you and whatever you really enjoy the taste of. Feel free to order more than one though and just keep switching when necessary. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard though and drink too much unnecessary liquid. Many small sips of liquid will all eventually add up to be a lot, and all that liquid will take up precious room in your stomach. It is very easy to drink yourself out of a victory because you didn’t have enough room for the last few bites, but you would have if you did not drink so much liquid throughout the challenge. You especially need to be careful with liquids if you are worried about calories because liquid calories add up much more quickly than with sauces.

Those are the main three ways to minimize the effects of flavor fatigue during a large food challenge. If you are attempting a challenge with a very thick bun and you plan on dunking the bun in liquid, you may want to dunk it in a flavored beverage such as fruit punch or some other type of juice. I personally cannot stand the taste of cold wet bread dunked in water, and therefore I use lemonade when I have to dunk my food to win an event. If you have a favorite beverage that you prefer using, and you know that the restaurant probably does not have it, bring that beverage with you. Most restaurants will be fine with you using your own beverages, but you may want to confirm that it is okay before you open them up. If the owner or manager says no, you will just have to adjust and conquer!! You may even want to bring your own sauce if you have a favorite. You will never know what you can do unless you ask, and it is better to have and not need than it is to need and not have. If you use those three methods and include them in your challenge strategy, you will definitely minimize the effects of flavor fatigue and you will have a much more enjoyable food challenge experience. If you are still struggling to finish due to the flavor and you have already tried all three methods, comfort yourself knowing that all other serious eaters have been through exactly what you are dealing with, so power through and finish the challenge!!

Note: If you attempt a lot of eating challenges, you will eventually find one that doesn’t taste good or isn’t prepared correctly. Using tasty sauces and beverages really helps to overcome poorly tasting food too!!

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