Would You Skip a Meal for a Beer?

By Justine Carmine
Lifestyles Editor

It seems that Hollywood has given us another new trend in food-related illnesses: drunkorexia. The term has been googled and blogged more frequently than ever, thanks to young Hollywood starlets. Drunkorexia is a mixture of anorexia and bulimia combined with alcohol abuse. Many college-aged drinkers, especially women, are associated with this disorder because many young women tend to starve themselves all day to make up for the calories they intake from alcohol. Recently, The Morning Show ran a piece dealing exclusively with drunkorexia. They stated that 30% of 18-24 year olds skip food in order to drink more. This disease can also be connected to bulimia, which involves the binging of food and/or alcohol and then purging.

The President of the National Eating Disorder Association, Dr. Douglas Bunnell, stated in the News York Times article, Starving Themselves, Cocktail in Hand, that there’s a pressure in society to be a social drinker and to be super-model thin. Often with young women in college, there’s a desire to go out to all the parties and to be skinny. Some find that the only way to cope is to substitute food with alcohol. Studies show that binge drinking and alcohol abuse are more common in women, who are also more prone than men to eating disorders. A Marywood senior Psychology major thinks that these pressures women have to be social and skinny stems from high school. “There are two separate pressures: A pressure to be skinny and a pressure to socialize. Women feel the need to look attractive and if you don’t socialize you’re an outcast.”

What people don’t know is that starving yourself so you can have that extra glass or two is not a healthy and effective way to stay healthy or lose weight. Alcohol contains more calories than carbohydrates or protein with one small drink containing 150-170 calories. Therefore, a large drink would hold as many calories as an average lunch. While some people would rather choose the drink than the nutritional meal and think that it’s okay, think again. Dietitians say that this can lead to malnutrition, liver disease, and cancer. Alcohol taken without food is more dangerous because it’s absorbed much more quickly. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and an array of other problems. Also, when you skip meals your body loses most of its essential nutrients, add booze to it and it depletes the vitamins and minerals that are already in your body.

Not only can drunkorexia be harmful to our bodies, but it can actually cause us to gain weight. Drunkorexics think quite the opposite. By starving yourself, your body goes into “starvation mode” and stores the fat. When you drink, your blood sugar level goes down which causes you to not only store the fat that’s in those heavily-sugared mixed drinks, but stores the fat from food that you’ve eaten to sober yourself up. In reality, you’ve consumed about twice as much than you thought you did.

So, for all the 21 year olds who want to go out and still stay healthy, you can do it the smart way. Have a mixed drink with tonic water instead of soda or have a light beer. Remember to drink plenty of water. When you get those cravings for pizza after a night out, eat some toast or a bag of low-fat chips instead. You’re in college once, so it’s important to go out and have a fun time, but it’s not worth the effects it will have on your body later.