Have you ever skipped a meal because you know you have a big night out and would rather ‘spend’ those precious calories on wine instead of food? Well you’re not alone.
Following a new report on the rise of ‘drunkorexia’, which scarily stands for drinking alcohol instead of eating, we look into how this dangerous alcohol powered routine can easily develop into an obsession. Stylist Josephine shares her story;
‘It all started when I got my first paid job as a fashion stylist working in London, I would have the craziest of days running around the city going to different locations and working 14 hours at once sometimes.
It was non-stop and I would often skip meals during the day, but then make up for it and have a big greasy burger at 1am and then feel bad about it! I’ve never really had a good relationship with food and the job was making it worse. As a result of my strange eating patterns my metabolism was all over the place and I started to actually put weight on regardless of not eating much during the day. I think I was so over the moon to have the job that I was running off adrenaline and just wouldn’t think about food whilst I was working and then be starving late at night.
After my first few years on the job and once I started working my way up the career ladder things changed and instead of working all hours into the night, I would instead be expected to attend industry parties where the only thing on the menu was alcohol, and lots of it! The parties were so frequent I would start getting into the habit of missing out lunch and dinner just so I could afford to have a night of binge drinking without worrying about gaining weight, which was always a worry of mine, especially working in the fashion industry. I know deep down I did this because I was scared that my work colleagues would think I was boring and unsociable if I didn’t, which is totally the wrong attitude to have but that’s just the truth. Years of this routine and drinking wine most nights instead of eating led to me having a breakdown at work where I collapsed and had to go to hospital. It all got too much, I was going to work hungover, exhausted and malnourished. Everything was affected by my binge drinking and lack of food routine, I was not in a healthy place mentally or physically’
To understand in more detail why swapping meals for alcohol affects the body in such a negative way, we spoke to Nutritionist and Dietician Jo Travers for a bit of background-
The main reason we eat meals is to get nutrients to keep our bodies working properly. The main problem with skipping meals in order to conserve calories for alcohol is that your body still needs those nutrients that would have been provided by the missed meal. What can then happen is your body sends out a signal that you need nutrients: hunger. If you resist eating then the hunger may go away temporarily but it always comes back and often it comes back stronger and then there is a risk of overeating or eating the wrong types of foods and therefore not providing your body with the nutrients vitamins and minerals it needs to function effectively.
So skipping a meal is actually a bit of a false economy. Instead, eat a healthy, balanced meal (fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein and a quarter with carbs) and your body will have what it needs and will also process the alcohol better. Eating while drinking also protects the liver somewhat. And if you’re worried about calories you can always make sure the meal isn’t too calorific but absolutely do not miss meals and replace with alcohol as Josephine proves, your body won’t thank you in the short or long-term and can cause serious problems for your overall health and relationship with food. Look after yourself and provide your body with everything it needs to be healthy, don’t mistreat it.
It seems many factors contribute to an alcohol based diet and social situations, peer pressure and the obsession of wanting to look perfect 24/7 is definitely one of them. But as Jo explains and Josephine shares her story, it really won’t do you any favours in the longterm