Alcohol and Dieting: Drunkorexia

From the website that has brought you such articles as Bigorexia and Orthorexia, get ready for another form of ‘rexia’; Drunkorexia. Drunkorexia is not what it sounds like. It isn’t an alcohol only diet, but it is related to this concept somewhat. Drunkorexia is the combination of dieting and excessive alcohol intake, but without gaining weight. Specifically, it is creating a caloric allowance that makes room for alcohol within a calorically restricted diet at the expense of eating food.

This is troubling in and of itself, and more so when the reasons for it are further looked into. Due to our modern fascination with physical perfection, a good number of those that are in the age range of the young adult are actually putting a priority on dieting for the express purpose of looking good when drinking at parties and clubs. This means that the days leading up to the weekend would be spent exercising and maintaining a rigid diet, then during the weekend party days food consumption would be dropped to a minimum in order to not look bloated while drinking or to put on weight during the drinking binge.

A study of this behavior was done by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. SFU researcher Daniella Sieukaran followed 227 students at Toronto’s York University, all aged between 17 and 21 years old, for four months. She was curious about the practice of skipping eating in order to binge drink, but not gain weight. Sieukaran said she found that young people practising drunkorexia exhibit more risky behaviors. Unprotected sex and increases in alcohol overdoses where the participants were being hospitalized were common results found in this study.

I don’t believe that this is necessarily a new phenomenon, it just likely now has a name and a description. I didn’t see anything specific regarding gender in this study, but if I had to venture a guess it would be that females would more likely be partaking in this type of dieting strategy than would males. There is a different but similar strategy that is just as unhealthy that I have witnessed many males involved in. It involves a strict and rigorous training regimen, sometimes with the enhancement of steroids, that is strictly adhered to throughout the week. Then when the weekend comes, all of the hard work is ‘rewarded’ by looking good while partying.

Neither of these forms of dieting or exercising are particularly well thought out, but I’d like to believe that this can all be chalked up to youth. To diet oneself down just to look good while getting drunk, or conversely to build oneself up just to look good while getting drunk, has nothing to do with a fitness or healthy lifestyle. They do however, have everything to do with a lifestyle that is entirely based upon perception and image. The goal here is to look good, and be the life of the party. In these social circles, this is the ultimate prize – to have a great body, and to be the king or queen of the club scene.

Living in Toronto, I know many whose existence is based around this strategy. I would never confront them with this, because I’m sure the reality would hit them a little too hard and I’d likely lose a friend, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a real issue that stems from something much deeper. From my perspective, this is symptomatic of the pressure that we as a society live under.

If appearing to be physically perfect, well dressed and incredibly popular are the most important goals of the average young adult (and in some cases adults of varying ages), then these types of dieting and fitness behaviors can be considered almost logical. If all that matters is appearances, then one must do what is necessary to be viewed however one wishes to be viewed. The unfortunate part of all of this is how misdirected those that chase this ‘acclaim’ are, and how far from the true meaning of health and fitness this attitude really is.

To deal first with the ‘fame’ that these folks seek; this is the most hollow and shallow of goals one can devote their time and energy towards. To be viewed by others as being something that you aren’t isn’t worth anything. You can always fool someone else, but when you get right down to it, for what benefit would someone be doing this?

Secondly, to address the issue of health and fitness in relation to drunkorexia, or whatever you want to call the male equivalent, (machoholism?) this type of lifestyle is not at all what the words health and fitness are meant to represent. The meaning of these two words, especially when paired together, is the practice of building oneself into a stronger person, physically, mentally and spiritually. It is about becoming the best you that you can be. This is the reason why we live to train, not for the empty envy of someone who has little respect for themselves, or likely any one else for that matter.

Happy Lifting!

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4 comments for “Alcohol and Dieting: Drunkorexia

  1. November 23, 2012 at 9:17 am

    with kids in their very early teen years, I’m saving this article to discuss with them… there’s a lot of very important information here… Thanks Matt

    • November 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Having kids that are 5 and 1, I can honestly say that I already fear the teen years somewhat. It’s going to be a tough stage of life to navigate, so I’m doing my best to prepare myself!

  2. November 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I think for a lot of people the original reason they start training has nothing to do with actual health and more to do with wanting to look a certain way. However with time it evolves into something much bigger. That’s what I was talking about with my future idea to blog about motivation changes and is exactly what happened to me. Not about alcohol but originally I just wanted to gain muscle cause I was sick. Now it’s about muscle, health, mind, body, soul, everything.

    • November 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

      I agree with you 100 percent Colin. I can honestly say that when I first began lifting it had everything to do with vanity and ego, and nothing to do with health. The scales have balanced things more towards health and longevity, but I think if we’re honest with ourselves ego and vanity are still part of the equation.

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