College Girls: Are We All Drunkorexic?

As young adults, we’ve all witnessed someone eating lightly before a night of hardcore drinking. It’s definitely not a healthy thing to do, but sadly it still happens. We’ve probably heard people saying things like, “I can’t eat a huge meal before we go drinking tonight…I need to fit into my new jeans!” or “I ate a really small dinner so these tequila shots are gonna hit me fast”.

Researchers call this ‘planning’ drunkorexia. Drunkorexia is the process of skipping meals/working out intensely to ‘save calories’ for drinking later on. This is a deadly combination and can lead to vomiting, blacking out, etc. due to the fact that your body has nothing with which to soak up the alcohol. You know how when you’re hungry you can feel really light headed? Now imagine downing 7 tequila shots when you’re starved. Your body probably wouldn’t be able to¬† handle all that booze and would probably puke it up, to save you from alcohol poisoning.

Researchers and educators from various universities across North America have some disturbing findings. Adam Berry from the University of Florida conducted one of the biggest study on drunkorexia. His study involved 22,000 college students from 40 universities in the US. Here were some of his findings:

* Even after controlling for race, school year, Greek affiliation and whether a student lived on campus (the authors did not control for whether a respondent played on a sports team), vigorous exercise, and disordered eating uniquely predicted binge drinking

* Those who exercised or dieted to lose weight were over 20 percent more likely to have five or more drinks in a single sitting

* Students who had vomited or used laxatives in the previous month to shed pounds were 76 percent more likely to binge drink

Other studies show that around 26% of young adults use this deadly combination as a dieting practice. So instead of just drinking for a good time, some of us are binge drinking on empty stomachs, throwing up, and hoping to lose weight from it. I am in no way endorsing this dangerous practice, but I could see why some young adults do it. There has always been lots of pressure to look good. But there’s also pressure in college to go crazy and party. When you combine the two, one way to achieve both is to binge drink and throw up. And because throwing up usually happens if you’re drinking on an empty stomach (no food to absorb the booze), people may turn to eating less or not eating at all.

So what does this really mean? If you’re eating smaller meals all week to fit into your skinny jeans before a weekend of partying are you drunkorexic? Or is it strictly if you skip meals, work out for 3 hours, and then down 5 vodka crans? It’s clear that one practice is more unhealthy than the other, but it doesn’t mean the other is good for you either. I feel that the lines are a little blurry. Researchers have a pretty clear cut definition of drunkorexia, but I feel like some practices can qualify as drunorexia in some ways. What do you think? Are a lot of us drunkorexic?

[Lead image via Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock]

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