Dr HANX: Alcorexia

Alcorexia, a term coined in the early 2000’s, gained popularity in 2013.

Anorexia and binge drinking are both regular topics of interest and concern. Put the two together, and you have the phenomenon of alcorexia, which is becoming all too common.


What is it?

Alcorexia is a syndrome where a person will drink but not eat in order to consume fewer calories. One decides they want to lose weight, count calories, and on realising alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories, this presents a social dilemma; you want to be sociable and your friends are going out for drinks, but you are supposed to be watching your calories…

The number of calories in alcohol is second only to fat (9 calories per gram).


Why is it dangerous?

Drinking on an empty stomach, as we all know, often results in vomiting, falling, or doing something you regret. Such a dangerous diet can also cause considerable damage to your body mainly due to the lack of essential vitamins and minerals. This can quickly lead to alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes… the list goes on.


How much alcohol is safe?

The safe weekly alcohol limit set by the government, takes into account what the average female and male body can safely metabolise in terms of alcohol. Of course, as with calorie intake guidelines and body mass index calculations, we need to remember that these are only guidelines and can vary from person to person and in different contexts. A good rule of thumb is that if you are getting drunk, your blood alcohol levels are way above what is recommended.

The government recommends women do not regularly exceed 2-3 units daily and men 3-4 units.


Things to remember

Alcorexia is a slang term, and not literally anorexia combined with alcoholism. It is important to remember that anorexia nervosa is a serious mental health illness that has the highest death rate of any psychiatric condition. The same goes for those with an alcohol addiction. Alcorexia does, however, have the potential to cause either of these illnesses, and too many women and men are willing victims.


How to help yourself or others

If you’re worried you (or a friend) are showing signs of cutting calories in order to consume alcohol instead, then talk about it. Speaking with your doctor or loved ones is the first and most important step.

There are so many low calorie alcoholic drinks to choose from, and combining with a balanced diet means you can stay slim and healthy, without putting yourself in danger.

If you value your health, you will stay away from such fad diets. There are ways to combine healthy eating with alcohol, without damaging your body.

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