Why Survivor Contestants Get Fed A Lot More Now, According To One Former Competitor

Survivor Sonja Christopher CBS

(Image credit: Survivor Screenshot / CBS)

It is hard to believe, but Survivor has been on the air for two decades, with forty seasons under its belt. A lot has changed since the CBS reality series first made its way to the airwaves in 2000 and, according to one former competitor, one of those changes deals with what contestants are being fed. This Survivor morsel comes from someone who would know all too well about how things used to be.

Season 1 contestant Sonja Christopher (now 83-years-old) is pulling back the curtain on an interesting piece of Survivor’s forty-season puzzle. Christopher revealed that current contestants have gotten more to eat than she did twenty years ago. So you can rule a lack of food out as to why some contestants are retiring. On being able to eat more, Christopher told EW:

They also get a lot more food. But that's because when you're starving and your metabolism drops, all you want to do is sleep, and that doesn't make for good TV.

A hungry contestant does not make for good television, especially when they're trying to sleep. As a viewer, I remember that the early seasons of Survivor did seem to put a lot of focus on the extreme weight loss that many contestants endured during the season. And this was long before Dancing with the Stars made headlines for it.

The physical transformation that I recall contestants going through was quite staggering. It always blew my mind just how much a person would change week to week. When you consider the challenges that Survivor puts its contestants through, you have to think that some quality nutrition is needed to prevail. So I'm happy to hear that they're getting more to eat.

While Sonja Christopher didn't mention exactly when things changed in contestants' diets, we can definitely assume that things have been easier for those on more recent seasons. Those fighting it out on Winners at War may have noticed a difference from their diet on their previous seasons to now.

A few questions still remain, though. Was Survivor solely motivated to increase participants’ food as to avoid boring episodes in which contestants prefer to sleep? Or were safety concerns also a part of the decision? One could imagine that both Survivor and CBS as a whole could've gotten into deep water if it was revealed that at least some of its participants were malnourished.

Regardless of why these changes were instituted, let's just be glad that those competing now have a tastier (and healthier) incentive to do so. And we'll be keeping an eye on an other changes Survivor might institute in the near future.

Survivor will return for its next season at a later time and date on CBS. While you anticipate the reality competition’s return, you can check out this summer’s premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.