Is “drunkorexia” a risky trend?
You probably haven’t heard of it, but ‘drunkorexia’ is a dangerous trend that’s growing in popularity among young adults and on college campuses nationwide.
Although it’s not a medical term, the phrase refers to diet-related behaviors like skipping meals, using diuretics, vomiting and extreme exercising in combination with excessive alcoholic intake in order to curb potential weight gain from alcohol consumption.
One study out of the University of Houston found that this fad is rising in popularity, and more students are succumbing to ‘drunkorexia’ than ever before. Researchers surveyed 1,184 college students who had all consumed alcohol heavily at least once in the past month. Of those surveyed, more than 80 percent reported at least one “drunkorexia behavior” in the past three months.
“People that have a binge eating disorder or anorexia normally have an issue with having control over one’s body,” says Dr. Lara Segalite, an addiction psychiatrist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “By restricting caloric intake during the day before drinking alcohol, some feel that this is one way to gain control over their body and make sure they are not gaining weight when they drink excessively.”
For women, the recommended alcoholic intake per day is one drink, and for men it is two drinks, according to Dr. Segalite. She says individuals who chose to have a drink should stick to the recommended amount, and instead of restricting calories, eat healthy and nutritious foods throughout the day.
“Calories from alcohol are empty and contain no nutritional value; in fact, they can deprive you of Vitamin B and other nutrients your body needs,” says Dr. Segalite. “Average alcoholic beverages are 250 calories, so if you have four glasses of wine, that’s already 1,000 calories. Those calories could be better spent.”
It’s important that people understand the difference between calories from food and liquid calories. Restricting caloric intake, binging and purging, or excessively exercising before consuming alcohol does not change the fact that those liquid calories are completely empty of any nutritional value. People that do engage in drunkorexic behaviors should consult a doctor to determine if there are underlying issues that are leading them to engage in these behaviors.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.