Do you watch what you eat?
Sure, many of us do that, but if you like the idea of other people watching what you eat – while you rake in that sweet influencer cash – Mukbang might be for you, that is, if you don’t mind the potential health hazards.
Mukbang, pronounced “mook-bong”, is a Korean term which means “eating broadcast,” and it’s all about YouTubers and TikTokkers filming themselves eating enormous meals for a captive audience.
And by enormous, we mean enormous – sometimes upwards of 4000 calories in one sitting. That’s roughly the amount of a calories an adult should eat over two or three days.
Most will eat vast amounts of food best consumed in moderate portions, such as desserts, spicy noodles, pizza, burgers, fries, and chicken wings
It may sound off-putting, but the appeal, says Sinesipho Ncapayi (29), is that Mukbang can be quite relaxing.
After work Sinesipho will make her favourite meal, and once her seven-year-old daughter is in bed, she settles down to watch her favourite YouTube Mukbangers.
“I find watching people eat very relaxing,” she says. “There’s something very calming about the chewing sounds.”
The calming effect of those sounds are known as ASMR - Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – a tingling sensation along the spine in response to sonorous noises.
Canadian YouTuber Lovetoeat has more than 6,000 subscribers who, she says, enjoy her speech-free Mukbang ASMR videos as they find them “soothing”.
“Some people like to just listen to eating sounds to fall asleep, so they don’t wanna hear me talk.”
Sinesipho came across Mukbangs while searching for recipes online, and now “I enjoy seeing them eat all the food that I eat on my ‘cheat days’ but in large amounts.”
Binge eating is not good for anyone to do on a regular basis – apart from gaining weight, you’ll also be inviting cholesterol and heart disease into your life.
Mukbanger Perry, AKA, Nikocado Avocado told Men’s Health magazine that his sex life suffered for his art. “I started having erection problems. It never happened until I started doing mukbangs.”
Nicholas, like other professional Mukbangers, says he exercises regularly and eats healthily most of the time. He has no intention of stopping any time soon, and while he wouldn’t say what he earns from his full-time binge eating gig, some people earn up to $10,000 (R170, 000) a month from online views – and that’s not including sponsorships from food and drink brands.
All that eating, however, is “quite a roller coaster to put your body on,” Dr Andrew Bates, assistant professor of surgery at Stony Brook University told Men’s Health.
The repeated cycle of binging and clean eating, as many Mukbangers do between their videos, could make a person’s biochemical signalling go haywire. “Your body won’t know whether you’re in feast or famine mode,” he said. It’s not yet clear what kind of long-term effects this kind of eating pattern will have on these Mukbangers.
Mukbang has been around for about a decade but it has made headlines in recent weeks with the Chinese government hinting that it would be cracking down on the binge-eating clips and streams, and maybe even banning them.
China’s president Xi Jinping recently called on China’s citizens to “fight against food waste,” following growing concern about food shortages in the country, reported the BBC. Mass flooding hit Chinese crops last month, and the country is still in a trade war with the US.Warning messages have started appearing on eating-show video clips and Chinese-based social-media companies are posting warnings when people search for terms such as “eating show” or “eating livestream”.
“Social-media users have leapt on the opportunity to start naming and shaming those who were once part of the niche that has overnight been rebranded as ‘wasteful’ and ‘vulgar’”, media analyst Kerry Allen told the BBC.
Sources: Menshealth.com, BBC.com, Metro.co.uk, Yahoo.com, Splinter News, Ranker.com