Competitive eating tips:

1. Don't rush. When you rush, you get sick.

2. Keep a steady pace.

3. Keep in mind that physique has nothing to do with winning eating contests.

4. Eat as much as you can three or four days before a contest. Rookies often fast a couple days before a competition. But that's a mistake because your stomach will tighten up.

5. On the day of the contest, "Hungry Man" Charles Hardy recommends cleansing yourself. He drinks herbal tea and, just before the contest, drinks a liter of water to stretch out the stomach and rein in hunger pangs.

6. Meditate before each match to prepare for the battle of nerves ahead.

7. In a hotdog contest, the hardest part is getting the bun down. The Tokyo method is to eat the meat and bun separately. Dip the bun quickly in water for lubrication, but don't let it sit in water too long. "Soggy bread in your mouth? It makes you want to throw up," Hardy says.

8. Matzo balls are in broth, so take in as little water as possible. Don't bother with a fork or spoon — just cram it in with your hand. Keep in mind that regional contests tend to use small matzo balls, or "floaters," about five or six ounces. The Ben's Kosher Deli contest features "sinkers," eight-ounce balls. Pace yourself accordingly.

9. Know your strengths. You'll never be able to force yourself to eat something you can't stand, so take it easy and don't disqualify yourself by vomiting.

10. The IFOCE discourages the so-called "Roman" method of eating — making yourself vomit after the meal — and some contests expressly forbid it. Nevertheless, some top players will purge themselves after a contest, if only to keep their sodium levels down. Make up your own mind.