Surely you've heard the motherly lecture. Everything in moderation, right?
But what happens when you have a passion for eating? Hot dogs. Dozens of hot dogs. In under 10 minutes.
Insane food-related challenges are picking up around the Omaha restaurant scene, and the Travel Channel even has a show dedicated to the “sport” — “Man vs. Food.”
If you occasionally participate in such binge eating, it doesn't pose any major threats to your body. But if you take the hobby to the extreme, you're looking at more serious health risks down the road.
Dr. Grant Hutchins, a gastroenterologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, breaks down the risks into two parts: acute symptoms — those that will occur during, or shortly after, scarfing down a 15-pound burger — and chronic illnesses, which pop up later in life.
“Obviously if you eat too much, and you're not ‘in shape' to do this, you could throw up, get nauseated ... and a few hours later, you'll probably set yourself up for having an awful lot of stool,” he explained. Not to mention a temporary rise in blood pressure due to stress on the entire system.
But these don't compare to the chronic, long-term health issues you may have if you indulge in extreme binge eating too often.
“When you or I go to the bar, have a cheeseburger and couple beers, we get the sensation of feeling full,” Hutchins said.
“If people (binge eat) repeatedly, they may stretch their stomach to the point of not feeling this anymore.”
A normal “resting” stomach is about the size of a grapefruit. Once stomach muscles (not to be confused with ab muscles) are trained and stretched to a certain point, we're looking at a small watermelon. When the stomach expands, binge eaters can consume an unnatural amount of food, leading to anything from high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol to heart disease and stroke.
And it doesn't matter how big or small you are when it comes to your ability to eat a huge amount of food. Petite eaters can empty their stomachs just as effectively as heavier ones, Hutchins said. That's ultimately what gives a competitor the advantage: The faster the stomach empties into the small intestine, the more hot dogs it can handle, regardless of your weight.
Is binge eating healthy foods OK? That's debatable, according to local registered dietitian Jill Koegel.
“Ten pounds of anything will have various negative effects. Broccoli would bring on major gas, and pizza would give indigestion and diarrhea,” she said.
Both Koegel and Hutchins said this topic hasn't been thoroughly studied, because at this point, “food challenges” are still a fairly new phenomenon.
And while your stomach won't technically explode after seven apple pies, the professionals second mom's advice: Everything in moderation.
VIDEO: The first woman to defeat the Stellanator now has taken the same challenge at Sinful Burger.