The Mukbang Craze

The Mukbang Craze

Food Porn Gone Wrong?
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Mukbang is a South Korean cultural phenomenon that has swept the screens of many Americans since 2015. Millions of South Koreans and Americans tune in daily to watch their favorite food hosts broadcast themselves eating a massive calorie-dense meal while socializing with their audience. The most popular "mukbangers" are gaining thousands of dollars of revenue each night, through advertising revenue, viewer donations, and sponsorships. While South Koreans usually broadcast their mukbangs live on Afreeca TV , Americans are making mukbang one of the top trending video categories on YouTube with hundreds of channels dedicated to mukbangs, competitive food eating, food drive-thru hauls, and high-calorie food challenges. While most viewers might be tuning into this mukbang frenzy as a form of vicarious eating , some might be seeking these videos to experience an ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, to make your body tingle at the sound of food eaters slurping, burping, crunching, slapping, finger-licking, chewing, and exaggerating other noises made while eating.

I was unsure whether I should feel amazement or disgust when I first discovered the world of mukbang through Matt Stonie's YouTube channel. Matt Stonie is an American competitive eater ranked #3 in Major League Eating. In addition to his multi-World Record holdings for food challenges, some of his most popular food challenge YouTube videos are the massive ice cream sundae challenge (11,000 calories), with 20M views, and his massive English breakfast challenge (10,000 calories), with 16M views. Along with other popular mukbangers such as the ever-popular Keemi, the cute Hyunee Eats, the "sloth" Nikocado Avocado, 500 lbs Hungry Fat Chick, famous Trisha Paytas, and even the creative Raphael Gomes, all of whom I am regretfully subscribed to.

This Mukbang Craze is a growing health concern not just for the competitive eaters and mukbangers but also for the viewers with eating problems who might be triggered by these food binge videos. Many viewers, including myself, have often wondered how competitive eaters manage to stay relatively thin despite all of their food challenges. According to TIME, competitive eating poses severe health risks as doctors found the stomach's and colons of competitive eaters "appeared as a massively distended, food-filled sac occupying most of the upper abdomen...with little or no gastric peristalsis." Health professionals speculate that in order to compensate for the massive food injuries that can be sustained from these popularized and sported food binges, many competitive eaters and mukbangers alike most likely fast on water for days at a time.

Some mukbangers like food YouTube vlogger and competitive eater Erik the Electric said: " Mukbangs and having eating videos have helped me overcome my bouts with undereating – they’ve also helped me be able to be more “social” around food which is primarily what mukbangs are about. I’ve had viewers and subscribers send me countless emails over the years telling me that my videos have helped them realize that just one day of eating or hours of eating isn’t enough to make them “fat” or overweight and that it’s okay to indulge once in a while."

While some viewers might find mukbang helpful, I worry that mukbangs and epic food challenges, which often feature unhealthy junk foods, are promoting binge eating disorder which leads to obesity, a national health epidemic that often co-occurs with related debilitative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Can this latest mukbang food trend of people gorging on enough servings of food to feed a whole family be sinful glamorizations of gluttony and an unhealthy obsession? You can decide by watching a mukbang video for yourself of Nikocado Avocado and Hungry Fat Chick gorge on large fat-laden foods at the famous Heart Attatck Grill located in Las Vegas, Nevada where many of the city's residents are considered one of the most obese populations in the nation with some of the highest rates of childhood obesity. The British TV show Super Size vs Super Skinny captures this food trend's discrepancy quite well. After watching a few mukbangs, you might begin to wonder are you hungry in amazement or disgusted?

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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12 Starbucks Iced Drinks You NEED In Your Life This Summer

Must-try beverages brought to you by your local barista.
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Be kind to your baristas, they can make you some pretty great drinks. With the temperature rising and the days getting longer, it's approaching the time to find your summer staple to keep you cool (and caffeinated) over the next few months.

Starbucks offers a wide variety of cold beverages that really hit the spot during the summer months, from espresso drinks to fraps, smoothies, teas and refreshers. As a Starbucks barista, I've had the opportunity to taste most drinks on the menu and receive feedback from customers on the do's and don'ts of cold beverages.

While this is not an exhaustive list, I pulled together some of my favorites to give you, the "Ultimate Starbucks Iced Beverage Bucket List for 2017" that you MUST try this season:

1. Pink Drink

Three words: Basic white girl. If you want a photogenic drink that tastes like a Starburst and makes baristas happy, the Pink Drink is for you. It's a pretty simple beverage... this Strawberry Acai Refresher combined with Coconutmilk is sure to satisfy your hipster needs.

2. Iced White Mocha

This sinfully sweet iced espresso drink is not only one of the most popular beverages on the menu, but sure to wake you up at any time of day. Jazz it up by asking for half white chocolate, half mocha sauce, topped with a mocha drizzle, and you've got yourself an Iced Tuxedo Mocha!

3. Doubleshot on Ice

If nothing else, this quick pick-me-up looks classy while giving you the energy boost you need to get through the day. With two shots of espresso, a bit of milk and classic syrup, this drink is easy to enjoy in little time... it's like a caffeine I.V.!

4. Iced Caramel Machiatto

Surprise, surprise... Caramel Machiattos are actually made with vanilla syrup. Nonetheless, these espresso-topped beverages are absolutely delicious at any time of year, but summer calls for ice! Want to change things up? Ask your barista to make it with half vanilla syrup, half toffee nut syrup to make an Iced Salted Caramel Machiatto!

5. Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

A sister to the Pink Drink, the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is a fruit juice-blackberry combo that makes for a pretty chilled beverage to enjoy on the go. The caffeine content is minimal, making it a great option for any time of day.


6. Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Cold Brew is basically Starbucks' version of a smoother-tasting iced coffee with more caffeine. The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is a standard drink topped with vanilla-flavored heavy cream to create a sweet taste and a marbled appearance in the beverage. Want something with flavor, but not in the mood for vanilla? Try the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew!


7. Mango Black Tea Lemonade

The Mango Black Tea Lemonade is one of the most popular drinks on the menu. Iced Teavana tea mixed with mango syrup and lemonade makes for the perfect combination

8. Iced Chai Tea Latte

Iced Chais - sound so sophisticated, yet so simple to make. If you order this drink, there is a 10/10 chance that your barista will love you for it. Milk mixed with a sweet and spicy chai syrup makes for a classy drink that can be enjoyed at any time of day.


9. Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto

The identifying characteristic that makes a macchiato, well, a macchiato is that the espresso shots are poured on top of the milk and flavoring. Starbucks' Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto is a combination of cinnamon dolce syrup and almondmilk topped with espresso shots, a caramel drizzle and a cinnamon dolce topping to create a delicious dairy-free option in the macchiato family.

10. Sunset Refresher

This secret menu drink is fairly simple to make with a cool lime base, lemonade, lime slices, and ice topped with black tea. When finished, the drink will have an ombré appearance that makes it totally picture-worthy!

11. Iced Caffè Americano

Calling all espresso lovers: Americanos are a Starbucks signature. The drink itself is pretty simple - espresso and water topped with ice, but if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can mix things up with a flavored syrup. This drink is sure to wake you right up, no matter the time of day.

12. Strawberry Lemonade

Want something cold but not feeling coffee or a frap? Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is definitely worth a try! While this drink is not on the menu, most baristas are happy to make it upon request. Just ask for a combination of strawberry flavoring, lemonade, and ice blended together for a slushie-like beverage!

Cover Image Credit: FoodBeast

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Living With Celiac Disease

Kids would put food in my face and tease me about it, they'd tell me that my symptoms weren't real and that I was just faking it for attention; I even had adults tell me this too.

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At the age of eight, I experienced horrible stomach pain, weakness, and illness. I was doubled over, and I didn't know why I'd felt so horrible. It wasn't the kind of pain you feel when you have the flu, or when you have cramps. It was a different kind of pain, but I knew it wasn't good. My parents didn't know what was wrong with me either. The only thing my dad had suspected was that perhaps I was intolerant to gluten.

For those who don't know, gluten is found in many food items that primarily contain grains or are often high in carbs. This isn't to say that all foods with carbs or grains have gluten, but they oftentimes do. Gluten is a protein within wheat that is the primary ingredient in cake, pizza, and bread. It is even sometimes in food that you would never suspect, like Twizzlers. It's also synonymous with ingredients like monosodium glutamate, malt, barley…etc.

I tell you that to tell you this:
At eight years old, I was told I had celiac disease. Which just means that my body is unable to digest and break down gluten, preventing me from absorbing vital nutrients.

My dad found out later in his life that he was gluten intolerant after many years of breakouts and complications. He had ascertained the idea that maybe I had also carried this gene and that was why I was in so much pain. Each time we digest gluten, our body attacks our small intestine, killing off what is called villi. My body was in so much pain because I was eating gluten.

After taking gluten products completely out of my diet, I felt 100% better. I was no longer in intense pain, I no longer had rashes, and all other symptoms went away. From then on, I had to watch what I ate, as if I was on a life-long diet.

As you can imagine, this was a ton of responsibility for me as an eight-year-old because I now had to constantly check every label there ever was, make sure that the food I was eating at school didn't have any sort of gluten in it, and I was also now a novelty at school. Kids would put food in my face and tease me about it, they'd tell me that my symptoms weren't real and that I was just faking it for attention. I even had adults tell me this too. They thought I was being hypersensitive.

I had to remember everywhere I went that I had to avoid eating gluten. Do you know how hard that is? It's in so many things. When I was young, not many people knew what celiac disease was. There weren't any gluten-free alternatives out there, so I was eating lots of rice, beans, and salad. I had a very limited food palette. I could no longer have the amazing foods I enjoyed like pizza, garlic rolls, cake, or even ravioli. Although it seems odd, ravioli and spaghetti-o's were my favorite then and I was no longer able to have them. It crushed me.

Having celiac disease was hard as a child because when I went to birthday parties, I couldn't eat most of the food they provided. I couldn't enjoy birthday cake or the pizza that most people ordered. I always had to bring my own food and explain why every time. It seems silly, but I often felt left out. Not being 'normal' because of my allergy made me feel like an outcast. You'd think you wouldn't feel like that, but it generated a lot of those negative feelings because I was a burden to feed due to my allergy.

Fast forward 13 years later, I still have to be careful of what I eat. Celiac disease is something I'll never get rid of. It's a part of my DNA, and there's a good chance my kids will also carry the gene and deal with the same issues.

I don't usually tell people I have celiac disease because I can sometimes get away with having trace amounts of gluten and still be mostly okay. But when I accidentally eat gluten, I pay the consequences. There are times when I accidentally eat it and feel like I can't get out of bed because of the stomach pain. I joke that the pain is so horrible that I feel like I'm dying, but it really does feel severe in the moment.

Being gluten intolerant, I spend quite a bit more money on groceries because I have to find gluten-free food and it's way more expensive. Because gluten-free became a fad diet, more places began offering alternatives and it was easier for me to find foods I liked. When I find gluten-free goodies that aren't normally gluten-free in restaurants, you bet my eyes light up! It's exciting but also a relief.

Being gluten-free has oftentimes felt like a curse, but it's also a blessing sometimes.

The upside to this is that researchers are looking into developing a pill that will help those with celiac disease digest gluten easier and/or subside symptoms completely. So hopefully soon, I'll be able to eat the foods I once loved without feeling ill.

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