Why Survivor Contestants Get Less Food Now Than They Used To

CBS' long-running hit reality TV series "Survivor" has experienced plenty of changes over its whopping 46 seasons (and counting) — from contestants no longer needing to walk an hour and a half to get to tribal council to the surprise reversal of immunity challenges. While some fans are not happy about all of the changes, the idea behind them makes sense. After all, if "Survivor" never added any new elements, it might become boring to longtime viewers. However, despite all the new additions, there is one change that is taking the show back to its roots: the contestants are now getting less food than before.

This change seems to come as a way to remind viewers of the survival aspects of the show and prove that the conditions are still difficult. This may make some fans happy because one major complaint about the New Era of "Survivor" (all the episodes after the 40th season) seems to be that the show has become more about luck and coincidence than strategy and physical strength. Providing less food is a nice callback to the earliest seasons when contestants had to hunt and forage for their meals or earn them in challenges. According to past contestant Sonja Christopher in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, in later seasons of the show (but before the New Era), contestants were given rations to prevent extreme hunger because laying around and doing nothing "doesn't make for good TV."

Why less food makes for good TV now

So, if the contestants in the New Era of "Survivor" are getting less food again, why aren't they hungry and lounging around like they were in the original few seasons? As it turns out, several other changes to the show have made it possible to keep the game interesting while still upping the survival stakes. Most importantly, the filming of "Survivor" now takes place over 26 days instead of 39. This means that food is less of an issue because people typically don't become weak from starvation until after around 30 days (via Verywell Health).

On top of this, now that most seasons of "Survivor" take place in Fiji, the contestants more than likely won't go completely hungry because the island has plenty of forageable food, which also decreases the chances they'll quit the show. Furthermore, like many other seasons, contestants are still able to win supplies and meals through challenges. So, although contestants are given less food than before on "Survivor," having that food has also become less important. Instead, contestants often need to decide whether or not spending energy finding food is worth the calories they will burn doing so.