Since the beginning of time, human beings have been doing strenuous physical activities and putting their bodies through tests and situations that the human body was just not designed to do. Running marathons, walking ultramarathons, competing in ironman races, and participating in other extremely long and grueling events are not activities that the human body was meant to be able to do. The human body also wasn’t designed for extreme bodybuilding competitions where athletes decrease their bodyfat level extremely low so that they can better show off their muscle tone and definition. It is seriously unhealthy for them to eliminate their water intake for over 24 hours before the competition to reduce bloating and deplete all the water beneath their skin, just so that their muscle definition can be improved. Like all of the previously mentioned publicly accepted and popular activities, along with many other physical tasks, your body was just not meant for consuming extremely massive amounts of food at one time. You can’t wake up one day and decide that you want to run over 26 miles or walk 100 kilometers at one time, and you cannot wake up and decide you want to eat an 8 pound burrito in one sitting either. The human body is capable of extraordinary things though, and it is amazing what you can achieve through hard work and consistent training. Athletes every day are pushing physical boundaries and showing off what the amazing human body can do if you steadily train it to do a task over a long time period.

The legendary Bruce Lee once stated, “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” To add to that, fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once stated, “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” My favorite quote regarding limits though is by Aron Ralston, which states “You’ll never find your limits until you’ve gone too far.” These quotes perfectly relate to competitive eating, lifting weights, and all other physical tasks that involve PR’s (personal records). To know your current limit, you have to be willing to attempt the next level above your actual limit. You have to be willing to fail. If you only attempt smaller food challenges that you always know you will easily beat before even trying them, you will eventually get bored because there is no real challenge involved. If you are a true competitor, you are going to want to find real challenges and attempt to defeat them. That is where the glory can be found, in the hard-earned victories, and not in the easy ones. The feeling you get after beating a really difficult food challenge is similar to the feeling you get after achieving almost any other really tough goal that you set for yourself. You did it, and you should be proud of yourself!! The feeling is even greater if it took you multiple attempts and failures to finally get that victory, and I know that from experience. It took me five attempts and over $200 to finally beat Papa Bob’s Ultimate Destroyer Sandwich Challenge in Bonner Springs, Kansas. When I finished that final bite on the fifth and final try, I felt on top of the world, and truly relieved!!

Unfortunately for both you and the restaurant, there are only three main ways to fail a food challenge. The first way is for you to simply “throw in the  towel” and quit before time expires because you know you cannot finish the entire meal. The second way to fail is to run out of time, and not finish everything on your plate before the time expires. You did not necessarily fail because you could not finish everything. You just could not finish everything within the time limit set by the restaurant. The third way to fail a food challenge is if you get sick while you are eating and end up throwing up, resulting in failure due to disqualification. Going to the bathroom and getting sick results in disqualification from winning over 99% of restaurant eating challenges. If that was not the case, people would just keep eating, throwing up, and then eating again until they finished everything, and that is definitely not something that should be promoted. The first two ways to lose are very acceptable forms of failure, but throwing up inside, outside, or around the restaurant will definitely be frowned upon by both the restaurant staff and the spectators in attendance. It does happen though, and that is simply because negative reactions can possibly happen when a person is fighting to exceed his or her limits. For that reason, here are tips to help you decide what to do if you begin feeling sick towards the end of your food challenge:

What To Do If You Begin Feeling Sick During Your Challenge

Take a short break and let your food settle – If you feel your stomach rumbling or that you are going to gag, the last thing you should do is stuff more food in your mouth, especially if you are already suffering from flavor fatigue. If you have any food still in your mouth, swallow it quickly and take a short break to let your stomach settle. Taking a one or two minute break can make a big difference in how you feel. Once that upset feeling is gone, then get back to eating and following the tricks listed in Use Mind Games To Trick Yourself To Victory.

Do NOT take a really long break from eating – It can be very helpful to put your food down for a few minutes, but taking a smoke break, stepping out to get some air, or taking any other kind of long break will hurt you more than help. If you watched the show Man v Food, the host Adam Richman never won one single quantity challenge when he took a long break from eating, and that is because you cannot allow your body that long time of rest between bites. If you take a long break, that “full” feeling will develop and you will hit that “wall” very hard.

Stand during the break if you are not already – If you were not already standing, and especially if you were sitting down, be sure to do that during your short break. Get up from your sitting or kneeling position and move around or stretch a little. Just don’t make a big scene in the restaurant by doing it, even though most people probably already know you are taking the challenge. Allow your midsection and all of your digestive organs to be in the upright position so that your food can settle much more easily. By sitting, you are basically cutting off the use of the bottom portion of your midsection. For more information about sitting, standing, and kneeling, read Sitting vs Standing vs Kneeling While Eating. Think of your food settling throughout your stomach and body just like it is one big Tetris game. All of the food will settle better and free up room for those last few bites if you are standing up and letting gravity push it down. After the break, assume the position that makes you comfortable.

Analyze how much food you have left – This mental step must take place after you have already taken a break to stand and let your food settle, and if you are still feeling like you are full and going to get sick even after doing all of that. If you do this every time you gag or think that you might get sick, you are going to overthink and scare yourself out of winning. Don’t think, and just eat!! To help avoid over thinking and suffering from paralysis through analysis, read Why Eaters Listen To Music During Competitions. If you are really full and know that you don’t have much more room in your stomach, analyze how much food is still sitting in front of you. Is there a lot left and you know there is no way that you will be able to finish everything? Or, is there just a few small bites remaining? Be honest with yourself when answering this question, and proceed with one of the next two tips.

If there is still a lot left, stop before you get sick – If you know that you physically cannot finish all of the food you have left, or if you know that you have no chance at finishing the meal before time expires, you should throw in the towel and stop eating before you hurt yourself or get sick. Whether you leave two small bites or two full pounds of food, a loss is still a loss, and there is no real difference, other than the fact that you can’t take the two bites home to enjoy as leftovers. The great thing about food challenges is that if you do lose, that same challenge will be available the next day, the next week, or even the next month so that you can train and prepare better before attempting the exact same challenge again. There are no real variables regarding the actual food, and everything just depends on you and how prepared you are. Some days will go better than others. If today was not your day to shine, just stop while you are ahead. Live to fight another day!! If you do continue, you will most likely just end up unnecessarily throwing up and possibly making a negative scene. Put your pride away and take the higher road this time. Just make sure to learn from the experience and incorporate your new knowledge the next time you take the challenge!! Remember that you learn more from losing than winning!!

If you are really close, keep pushing forward!! – If you only have a few bites left and you still have a significant amount of time on the clock, it would be very hypocritical for me to tell you to throw in the towel, because I would absolutely never do that in this situation. Go big or go home!! Try to incorporate any possible tips that can be found in our Use Mind Games To Trick Yourself To Victory article. Just keep believing in yourself and that you can finish. Push yourself to the limit, but make sure to be careful. If you fail, you fail, but go out while giving 110% effort!! You will be really kicking yourself later if you stop with just a few small bites left. You don’t want to spend the next month wondering “What if?” By going all out, you may even get the victory, but you won’t know if you don’t try. Just picture Aron Ralston saying, “You’ll never find your limits until you’ve gone too far.”

If you do throw up, don’t make a scene – As mentioned in Things To Consider Before Starting A Food Challenge under the Promoters section, restaurants create quantity food challenges with the understanding that there is a possibility that one or two customers may end up “getting sick” every now and then while attempting the food challenge. Because of this, they should already have a bucket or trash can near you within reach just in case a situation arises. If you make the decision to continue eating and trying to finish the last few bites and win the challenge, that is fine and perfectly acceptable. If you do end up getting sick and throwing up though, be sure to do your best not to make a scene. Follow the recommendations listed in our Proper Food Challenge Dining Etiquette article. There are some times where you know without any doubt that you are about to throw up, and that doesn’t happen in less than five seconds. The food takes a while to come up. If you have time, do your best to make it to the bathroom, rather than using the trash can or bucket in front of everyone watching. People watching, especially the regular customers just enjoying their meal, will definitely appreciate you doing that. Nobody really wants to watch or listen to you throw up, even if you have your head fully inside the receptacle.

Whether you are attempting a food challenge, at an all-you-can-eat buffet, or just eating a huge meal at home, there is a chance that you will start feeling sick if you eat enough. For most people, there are just some foods that don’t sit very well in their stomach. If you are attempting a restaurant food challenge & you begin getting an upset stomach, you need to make the best decision you can so you maintain a level of respect for yourself, the restaurant, and all the people watching you. The above tips will definitely help you make that decision!!

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