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'When I got home, I couldn't stop eating.' Shaun Hampson on what Survivor is really like.

When former AFL player Shaun Hampson returned home to wife Megan Gale and their two kids after being a contestant on Australian Survivor 2019, he couldn’t stop eating.

For 31 days, he had endured intense hunger. The brutal conditions of the show saw him lose a staggering 11 kilos in just one month.

Speaking to Mamamia following his exit from the Channel 10 show on Sunday night, Hampson remembers the acute pain of hunger as being the hardest aspect of competing on Survivor – second only to not being able to speak to his loved ones.

“I’d never experienced hunger like that before,” he tells Mamamia. “I’ve done diets or I’ve fasted at times, but you’ve always got the thought in your head knowing that you can just go to the pantry or the fridge at any time.

“You don’t have that out there so you’ve got hunger from just eating rice and beans and then you can’t just go to the pantry and get food. You start dreaming about food. It’s 80 per cent of what you talk about, it’s really full on.”

So what exactly was his diet? “I was having two handfuls of rice and half a handful of beans [each day]. And then we were having a little bit of coconut as well.”

Despite his 11 kilo weight loss, Hampson recalls putting the weight back on within days of eating normally again.

“I had 18 days in the jury [villa] and I put on about seven or eight kilos, but it wasn’t the good weight. It was the bad type of weight and it just happened so fast and I realised then that I had to slow my eating down.

“I think you go into a primal thing where you go so long without food, that when you’ve got it in front of you, you have to eat it because you don’t know where your next meal’s coming from – so it was really hard to get out of that mindset and go back to normality.”

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Aside from the food, Shaun adds the unhygienic conditions of Survivor are similarly difficult, but says you eventually get used to it.

“You’re washing yourself in seawater with sand,” the 31-year-old recalls. “That doesn’t get rid of much, except for the external dirt. You can’t wash your teeth properly so that’s probably the most disgusting part, but you get used to it. By the end I was barely bothered by how people smelt or the way I smelt.”

 

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But it wasn’t just the physical conditions of Survivor that intensely challenged the former professional athlete – it was missing his wife, model Megan Gale, and their kids: River, five, and Rosie, one.

“I knew it would be tough but I think until you go through it you don’t realise how hard it is,” he says. “It’s literally no contact. So it is by far the hardest part of the game – it eclipses any type of hunger pain, or any terrible nights with rain and stuff like that.”

Shaun can vividly recall the moment he spoke to Megan for the first time after being eliminated. Producers returned his phone the night he went to the jury villa, and he remembers it was late in Australia when Megan answered his phone call.

“When you’ve heard the same 20 voices for the last 31 days – people who you get along with, but they’re against you – so when you hear this voice from home that is your partner and she’s always on your side, it was like hearing an angel.”

As for who ultimately wins the game, Shaun believes fan-favourite Luke is the most deserving winner, but says underdogs such as Pia or Abbie could take it out just as easily.


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