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Former Wellington, P.E.I., resident conquers Cape Breton's six-pound donair challenge

Joel Hansen, a former Wellington resident, continues to eat as he reaches the half-way point of tackling a six-pound donair challenge.
Joel Hansen, a former Wellington resident, continues to eat as he reaches the halfway point of tackling a six-pound donair challenge. - Submitted

Joel Hansen, formerly of Wellington, has been participating in food challenges since late last year

SUMMERSIDE — Many have tried but few have conquered eating a six-pound donair in under one hour. Now it’s something Joel Hansen can add to his list of accomplishments.  

“I’ve developed a taste for food challenges,” he said with a chuckle.

Hansen, a former Wellington and Charlottetown resident, recently bested a six-pound donair at Sydney, N.S., restaurant, Alexandra's Pizza, in 28 minutes and 30 seconds.

Over the past few months, 21 people have attempted, but Hansen is the first to succeed.

“I heard about the donair in February when it had been featured on the news. Then people started tagging me in posts encouraging me to try the challenge.”

Hansen began participating in food challenges in December, after learning about a burger challenge at the Olde Dublin Pub in Charlottetown.

“I didn’t do very well. I mean I sucked. But it was a really good learning experience.”

After that, he began to crave more challenges.

But there’s science and practice behind successfully completing food challenges.

“Think of the stomach as a muscle. If you have a tight neck you stretch it out. So, for food challenges you need to get your stomach used to eating large quantities in a single sitting.”

Hansen begins preparing for a challenge about a week before, using large amounts of foods and liquids, including vegetables, beans and other low-calorie options.

He has a bachelor of science in foods and nutrition from the University of Prince Edward Island and is working towards a masters degree in science and applied human nutrition.

Then about 24 hours prior he has a “max-out meal,” aimed at stretching the stomach.

“Then on the day of, about six hours before, I do a liquid stretch. So, no solid food, but lots of water and electrolyte beverages. I’ll try to drink about a gallon in a few minutes.

“Then I’ll go to the gym, go to the bathroom ... a lot, and then dominate and eat. There’s a mental piece to this too. You have to know or believe you can do it, just like any challenge.”

After about four pounds of donair, Hansen says the meal became monotonous.

“The first half was quite enjoyable. Luckily I haven’t gotten very sick after one of these challenges.”

He has competed in about 12 challenges including a six-pound ice cream sundae in Buffalo, N.Y. The day after eating the 10,000-calorie donair, Hansen went on to eat a seven-pound pizza for another challenge.

Going from a complete amateur to where he is today, Hansen says there is a definite know-how.

“Consuming in moderation outside of my food challenges has been key. I eat lots of fruit, vegetables and lean sources of protein. That diet has certainly enabled me to remain healthy and not gain too much weight.”

Hansen exercises at the gym and has trained in powerlifting and bodybuilding.

“The weekend of eating the donair and pizza I consumed probably about 16,000 to 20,000 calories. And with food challenges there is a misconception that the participants have a really high metabolism, but that’s not always the case. Despite those two meals being the only things I ate for those days I still probably gained about three to four pounds of fat. No matter how much I train that is going to happen.”

Participating in challenges has become a passion for Hansen.

“I love to eat. And it’s always fun to complete a challenge and topple feats you didn’t think were possible.”

To see Hansen compete, head to his YouTube channel or check out his Instagram account @lordfatherjoel.

Hansen’s food challenges:

– Burger Challenge at Olde Dublin Pub

– Six-pound ice cream sundae in Buffalo, N.Y.

– Four burger challenges 

– Six-pound donair

– Seven-pound pizza

– A barbecue challenge in Vaughn, Ont.

– A mega ramen challenge

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