‘Drunkorexia’ Is A Growing And Terrible Trend, Say Scientists

Not eating enough and drinking too much might be a practice familiar to many slightly un-hinged urbanites, but now scientists at the University of Missouri have released a study showing just how widespread this so-called “drunkorexia” problem is, especially among young people (our future!). According to findings released on Monday, 16% of college women surveyed reported restricting food calories in order to “save them” for alcohol.

Via The New York Daily News:

Motivations for drunkorexia include staying slim, getting intoxicated faster, and saving money that would otherwise be spent on food to buy alcohol.

Sounds great, right? No! As someone who gets sick from a single glass of wine if I haven’t consumed a solid meal in the past few hours, I may be biased here, but this is a quick ticket to pukey hangover city if ever I did hear of one. But here are some more scientifically accurate ways in which it’s incredibly bad for you:

Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous,” researcher Victoria Osborne said. “Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying, and making decisions.”

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She also repeats the horrifying figure that the only “safe” amount of alcohol doctors recommend you should drink is two drinks for men, and one measly drink for women, which, let’s be honest, not even my tiny, non-heavy-drinking mother abides by. (She will have two glasses of wine with her dinner, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her.) But even if you’re not going to stick to that, its better not to declare an all out war on your lovely body. Seriously, if you’re going to drink, you need to eat something first. I know that’s heresy to people who live in New York and consider champagne, cigarettes, and the odd canapé to be a well-balanced supper, but do it for your cognitive function if nothing else. It’s hard to make champagne money without proper cognitive function, no?

PS: Let’s stop calling things “[   ]-orexia,” okay? It sort of de-legitimizes actual eating disorders, which should be taken seriously, as they kill people.

(Via NYDN)

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    • Eileen

      I never skipped eating, but I would do an extra few miles on the treadmill. And word on the “-orexia” thing.

    • Eve

      Oh God yes, the -orexia thing. Not only because it is obnoxious to people with actual eating disorders, but also because it’s a butchering of language and meaning. The Latin root “orexis” means “appetite,” so saying something like “drunkorexia” actually means “appetite for drunk” except it doesn’t mean anything because it’s mixing English and Latin. GAH. Same thing with “-holic.” Liking chocolate is not the same thing as having an addiction that ruins your life and liver, and the word “alcoholic” is “alcohol” plus “ic,” not “alco” plus “holic.” So, damn it, a person with a shopping addiction should be, if anything, a “shoppic.” Or something.
      I read a magazine article in which an actual, professional skin-care person referred to compulsive skin picking as “skinorexia.” First of all, that sounds like someone who really really wants to eat lots of skin, and second of all, there is a perfectly good word for that and it’s dermatillomania. So GRRRRR.

      • Eileen

        Yes! The main identifying feature of anorexia nervosa is the nervosa part (fun fact: when the disease was first named, it almost got called anorexia hysteria until some smart doctor realized that while it’s mostly a women’s disease, the uterus has nothing to do with it).

        Actually, I’m pretty sure Jessica wrote a complaint about this habit some time ago…

      • alexandra

        Agreed about the -orexia thing! Except isn’t it Greek? But in any case you’re right and so is Eileen. Maybe we should call it “temporary anorexia paranoia.” It’s more etymologically sound… Or maybe, yeah, we should just call it “a bad idea.” Ick.

      • Eve

        alexandra– I think you’re right, it is Greek. My bad.

    • Cat

      So, I’ve only known one person to ever actually *do* this whole “save the calories for alcohol” thing.

      Not in college. Oh no. We gained the Freshman 15 in college; we fucking OWNED eating.

      The only person I’ve ever known to do this was my overweight, slightly lushy manager at an office job I no longer hold. She had been a bodybuilder in a previous life, and had been steadily gaining weight since her career took a turn toward the office chair. Realizing she was looking less and less like her (admittedly formidable) former self every day, she signed up for Weight Watchers.

      She promptly began cutting way back on meals–sometimes to the lettuce-and-water point–while saving her Weight Watchers points for what really mattered: Happy Hour.

    • matbo

      This was my freshman year. I looked great! I was THIN! I had a crippling depression that meant I spent most nights either drinking my brains out or at home crying on the floor, sometimes both.

      I eat now. But I do eat less if I’m drinking wine with my meals. Does that make me a bad person? Because to me it just seems sensible. (clarification: I eat normally throughout the day, and skip going for seconds at my evening meal if I am drinking wine)

    • Ashley Cardiff

      I believe Trishelle from Real World: Las Vegas has been open about her struggle with drunkorexia.

    • Stephanie

      I’ve totally had a couple beers and some ice cream and called it dinner. Like once a week. And it’s awesome.

    • Stacy

      I don’t drink often anymore, but I still do this to some extent, especially when I know I’m going to be drinking beer or sangria, there is just so many calories its hard to reason with yourself not to

      • Ellen W.

        That’s how I am too. It’s a treat and I factor it in to my plans. I don’t see it as any different than changing your food plans to allow for cake or Halloween candy. If you’re doing it enough to affect your health then you’re drinking too much/eating too much candy.

    • Allie

      If it’s not intentional does it count? Sometimes you’re just not that hungry after lunch and then your coworkers are like “COME DRINK WITH ME, CHEAP BEER PLZ” and then you stay out until 9:30 and pick at bar food and when you get home at 10ish you eat carrots & hummus because that’s all you have in your fridge and then you pass out since you’ve been up since 6:30 that morning.

      This is known as the poor-person version of “people who live in New York and consider champagne, cigarettes, and the odd canapé to be a well-balanced supper.”

      • Lisa

        I completely agree! This has happened to me too many times where I go out for Happy Hour which lasts 4 hours and then I realized I had a sandwich at lunch… which was 9 hours ago.

      • Fiona

        So true Allie!

      • scarlet

        Yes! You dont’ have to live in NYC to live this oh-so-glam lifestyle!

        If a tendency to succumb to long “happy hours” plus lack of reliable grocery shopping makes a disorder, I’m in trouble.

    • Kayla

      I don’t skip meals, but I will skip dessert if I’m planning on a drink (or 4) later. Saves me a belly ache in the morning.

    • Jamie Peck

      I am jealous of all your iron stomachs.

    • amber dawn

      this will never happen to me as I am more prone to the “drunchies”. and yes, yes, yes, let’s stop calling things -orexia, unless it’s like, actual anorexia.

    • MM

      This baffles me because there’s nothing that makes me want to eat more than a couple drinks. If I wanted to lose weight, I’d cut out booze entirely and save those calories for something that satiates rather than creating a fierce desire for burritos.

    • Anon

      This is real problem for some women and its really intruding on my life at the moment. My partner has been binge drinking after starving herself for weeks now. Memory loss is a huge part of it and the person she turns into when under the influence has been so damaging to our relationship. How do I help her….