How to eat something larger than yourself
“An alligator can eat a quarter of its bodyweight in a single meal, equivalent to a human eating 89 bowls of rice,-' a reader told me in an electronic...
“An alligator can eat a quarter of its bodyweight in a single meal, equivalent to a human eating 89 bowls of rice," a reader told me in an electronic conversation. I was not impressed. Ever seen teenagers eat? Eighty-nine bowls is just the appetizer.
This exchange was triggered by a March 3 news report that a snake had been seen in Florida eating a deer larger than itself. The snake became a new Dining Hero for my son and myself, replacing TV's Miss Piggy, whose sensible eating plan is: "Never eat anything you cannot lift."
How did you eat something larger than you are?
Snakes temporarily dislocate their upper and lower jaws so that they can eat big things, including cows and buffaloes, said a herpetologist friend via email. (Humans have to do the same when eating those extra-tall burgers.)
A bird-lover in our office commented that some songbirds eat a meal of insects roughly every two seconds during their waking hours. That's 30 meals a minute! Definitely worth adding them to our Dining Heroes list.
Listening to this conversation was a colleague who was on a diet where you have six small meals a day. (I told her I totally loved the sound of that, except for the word "small".)
The discussion became a competition. "Forget alligators. A growing hummingbird consumes TWICE its weight in food every single day," the bird-lover said.
Impressive. In human terms, that would be equivalent to a teenaged boy eating a couple of sheep a day. Could teens really do that? I texted one to ask. "If you put them on a pizza, or cooked them as rogan josh, sure," was his reply (after translation from teenspeak).
But would it be dangerous? I phoned a doctor friend who said that physicians used to think it was impossible to eat yourself to death. But in 1985, top medical journal The Lancet reported a case in which a 23-year-old woman consumed one pound (450 grams) of liver, two pounds of kidneys, an eight ounce steak, two eggs, a pound of cheese, two slices of bread, a pound of mushrooms, two pounds of carrots, a cauliflower, 10 peaches, four pears, two apples, four bananas, two pounds of plums, two pounds of grapes, and two glasses of milk.
She was rushed to hospital where surgeons cut her open -- but she died before they could remove her lunch.
It reminded me of a true story from this column in 2014. A woman ate so much to celebrate Lunar New Year that she exploded. A nutritionist at Beijing Friendship Hospital said the 58-year-old patient felt ill from overeating and demanded a lunchectomy. The electric knife used by a surgeon provided a spark which met combustible gases from alcohol, causing a messy explosion in the operating theatre.
I don't wish to be morbid or anything, but you have to admit, if you have to die, this is pretty cool way to go. You eat all your favourite foods, and before even your weighing scale can reproach you, BOOM. You're done.
And someone else has to clean up the mess.
Now please excuse me while I go dislocate my jaw.