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Drunkorexia?

As a slang, non-medical term, Drunkorexia refers to someone who restricts food calories to make room for alcoholic drink calories. Others may purge their food and alcoholic drink to avoid the calories. Despite the known risks of these behaviors, studies have shown that 30% of women between 18 and 23 diet so they can drink.

"Drunkorexic" behaviors most often stem from the fear of weight gain from alcohol and are more prevalent in college-aged women, although men also experience them. In extreme cases, the behaviors may be related to bulimia or anorexia, in which the alcohol is used to make vomiting easier or to help manage eating anxieties. However, individuals without eating disorders that restrict their intake before going out may still struggle with "drunkorexia."

Risks

Curtailing food calories in favor of drink calories carries several risks. Compounding the risks is the combination of eating disorder(s) and binge drinking, which pose a great threat to an individual's physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Drinking on an empty stomach gets you drunk faster, which in turn reduces your self-control and predisposes you to make bad decisions

  • Binge eating may also be experienced because the person is extremely hungry and may be unable to control their urges

  • Purging often follows after these spurts of binging on food

  • Reducing food caloric intake puts a person at risk of not getting the nutrients needed to function properly

Finding Balance: A Healthy Lifestyle

  • Moderation, not elimination. Restricting your food before drinking may leave you overly hungry and vulnerable to binge eating late at night! Eating moderate portions throughout your day is the best way to prevent excessive hunger and reduces the likelihood of overeating. Remember, your body needs carbohydrates, protein, and fat plus vitamins and minerals everyday to function and skipping food to make room for alcohol will prevent you from getting these important nutrients. Incorporate variety in order to ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Your body needs certain nutrients like proteins and fats to function.

  • Know your limits. Plan ahead and make sure you manage your alcoholic intake when you go out. Keep of track of your alcohol consumption. Stay hydrated and alternate non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic drinks. The more alcohol you consume, the less inhibited you will become, impairing your decision-making skills that can result in negative consequences.

  • Choose wisely. Some beers have fewer calories than others do. Limiting the number of drinks you have is the best way to manage your caloric intake from alcohol. If you are worried about calorie intake, be conscious about what types of alcohol you consume. For example, many mixed drinks and some beers are higher in calories, whereas other beers have fewer calories.

  • Workout regularly. Exercise is important for many reasons, such as heart health and stress management. Finding an enjoyable activity that works for your schedule will keep you at a healthy weight. College students that struggle with weight gain often report that they are less active than they were before coming to college. Schedule in time for exercise classes, hiking or biking, tennis, or walks/runs outside throughout the week to assure that you are getting plenty of activity!

  • Seek support. Find understanding, advice, and encouragement from others who support a healthier lifestyle such as friends and family. Although there may not be support groups targeting "drunkorexia" specifically, there are several local support groups that address eating disorders and alcohol abuse.

Getting Help

Counseling and Mental Health Center