By Jane Buckle and produced for online by Erin Smith
Experts are worried about drunkorexia, a new trend where young girls skip meals to compensate for the calories they plan to consume later by binge-drinking.
Dannielle Miller, Enlighten Education chief executive officer and co-founder, runs nationwide workshops helping girls to overcome body image and self-esteem issues, says drunkorexia is a concerning phenomenon.
“What it really includes is a combination of dangerous eating patterns in young women where they are avoiding food in order to lose weight and binge drinking, which we know is on the rise.”
Flinders University psychologist professorand eating disorders specialist Tracey Wade says the label is hiding what the habit really is, a potentially concerning eating disorder coupled with alcohol abuse.
“People with eating disorders can also use alcohol because they typically have depressed moods or they can be very socially anxious, so they use the alcohol to try and cover these feelings at least for the short term.”
Ms Miller says drunkorexia is a result of a billion-dollar dieting industry, Australia’s binge drinking culture,and unhealthy body attitudes.
“You’ve got a combination of young women who want to be thin and don’t want what they consider to be empty kilojoules in alcohol, and this means that when young girls go out and drink excessively they’re doing that on an empty stomach.”
And she is worried it is an increasing trend.
“Problematic eating behaviours are absolutly on the increase and body image anxiety is the number one concern for young people in Australian particularly young women.”
A study by University of Missouri found 16 per cent of girls studied showed this behaviour, but a 20-year-old university student from Brisbane, who asked not to be named, says she believes the statistic is higher among her friends.
She says young people do not purely hold back on food for weight loss, but also to increase the effect of the alcohol.
“You avoid something that you know is high in carbohydrates or something that is going to fill you up, something that you know is going to soak up the alcohol, I mean of course you avoid it.”
Desi Carlos, a Brisbane-based dietitian, agrees it is an issue – saying she is noticing more “drunkorexic” habits among her female patients.
She says women can begin tackling the issue by seeing a dietician.
“We need to discuss a healthy eating pattern, discuss how we can look at ways in which we can balance food with alcohol, if that was just beyond her then psychologists definitely would assist.”
Parents concerned with their children’s eating and drinking habits, can visit The Butterfly Foundation or Enlighten-Education for more information.