‘Survivor’: How Do the Contestants Eat While Competing?

by Caitlin Berard

The smash-hit reality TV series Survivor is now on its 42nd season. The series has taken fans all over the world, from the Australian outback to the Amazon rainforest. One element, however, remains constant regardless of the setting – contestants lose a lot of weight while competing. In fact, the average Survivor contestant loses 20 pounds by the time their adventure is complete.

The main point of Survivor is for contestants to, well, survive. That means doing their best to catch fish and other sea life, as well as foraging for edible fruits and plants in the area. And though previous seasons saw contestants receive the equivalent of a cup of rice a day at the beginning of the show, the “new era” is a bit more strenuous. As contestants have to survive for only 26 days, they’re no longer given any food at all.

So, Survivor contestants do eat – they just have to get the food themselves. Don’t worry, though, Survivor has never allowed a competitor to perish while attempting life in the wilderness on the demanding reality show.

‘Survivor: Africa’ Star Ethan Zohn Explains Trials of Old-School Series

Survivor newcomers have a tougher challenge than contestants of the past in some ways, but Survivor: Africa competitor Ethan Zohn maintains that the old format was far worse. The Survivor star recalls that just getting freshwater required an immense amount of time and energy.

“Now, ‘let’s go to the well,’ just means, ‘let’s go strategize,'” the Survivor star explained to Distractify. “When we said let’s go to the well, it meant we’re walking 45 minutes. We’re encountering a dangerous cape buffalo. We get to the water source. There’s giant piles of elephant feces that we have to move away to fill up our canteens.”

And getting the water into their canteens was only half the challenge. “We go back, we have to filter the water through a buff,” Zohn continued. “We have to boil it for five minutes, we have to wait for it to cool, and then we can drink it. So just to get one sip of water is a three to four-hour experience for us.”

Past Survivor Contestants Describe Disappointing Meal Rewards

At the halfway point in the game, Survivor contestants meet in the “merge,” during which certain players receive immunity, while others are voted off the show. During this portion of the season, at least one tribe is given a “merge feast” where they get something a little more substantial to eat than coconut.

In an interview with The Ringer, however, two past contestants said that the “feasts” were pretty disappointing. David Wright, a contestant from Survivor: Edge of Extinction, recalled a particularly disgusting pizza while on the show. “The worst thing about the food that you get in a reward is when it’s Fijan pizza,” Wright said. “Which doesn’t come anything close to what we know as pizza in the States.”

Survivor veteran Malcolm Freberg, who’s appeared on three separate seasons of the show, agreed with Wright’s assessment. “It’s actually made of cardboard,” Freberg said. “There’s no flavor, there’s no sauce, the cheese… Everything about it was horrid.”