By David Heitz
It happens everywhere, but certainly more so in Southern California: People wind up addicted to drugs or alcohol in what began as a quest to look good.
There are those who skip meals and “drink” their calories, leading to malnutrition and fast intoxication.
This condition has been dubbed “Drunkorexia.”
Others start using crystal meth to lose weight. Some end up losing not only the weight, but also their life.
Some have called it the “Miss Tina Diet Plan,” as in ChrisTina, or Chrissy, or Tina, all slang for crystal meth.
The problem with these dangerous diet plans are that those who partake in them are finding affirmation just about everywhere they look.
The sad truth is, the internet is bursting with content encouraging folks substituting booze for food – especially women – to keep boozing while dieting, assuring them it’s safe, fun and easy. Many sites even offer recipes for tasty mixes.
In reality it’s a recipe for death, addiction and at the very least, malnutrition.
Sadly, the craze is most popular on college campuses, where women in particular already are bombarded with unrealistic “body beautiful” messages.
Booze and grapes for dinner
To better understand “Drunkorexia,” ask yourself this: Do you have a friend who is “counting calories,” say only allowing themselves 1,500 calories per day? If so, how many of them figure their daily booze intake into the 1,500? You might hear them say, “I can have three beers today but that’s it, I’m counting my calories.”
They go to the tavern and have their three beers. But let’s face it. They may end up doing a shot or two, too.
A die-hard calorie counter with their head set on losing weight will go straight home and deduct those calories – 400 in total – for their booze at the tavern.
That leaves them 1,100 calories for their entire day. They went to the bar after work or class for happy hour, and already had used 600 calories at breakfast and lunch.
So only 100 calories remain after spending happy hour at the tavern.
A Drunkorexic won’t think twice about having 100 calories worth of grapes and heading to bed.
Worse still, some may drink their grapes – wine and no meal at all.
Poor nutrition plus alcohol equals recipe for cancer
So what happens when we don’t get proper nutrition?
A Washington Post piece published just last month explained why fad diets focusing on just one type of food (carbohydrates, for example) likely aren’t the way to good health. Americans truly need variety and all the food groups represented in their diets.
The piece further warns about alcohol’s impact on the diet, warning people who drink to do so in moderation (and advising those who don’t drink not to start).
“What is moderation? It means no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men,” the Washington Post reporter explains.
“And no, you can’t save it up and consume seven to 14 drinks on the weekend. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of liquor such as vodka.
“Alcohol carries the risk of dependency, and excess consumption is linked to liver damage, obesity and an increased risk of certain cancers.” (1)
A lack of proper nutrition also can lead to the above-mentioned affects.
Indeed, Drunkorexia packs a one-two punch.
“Drunkorexia” has become engrained enough in our vernacular that it even has its own Wikipedia entry:
“…a colloquialism for self-imposed starvation or binge eating/purging combined with alcohol abuse. The term is generally used to denote the utilization of extreme weight control methods (such as the aforementioned starvation or purging) as a tool to compensate for planned binge drinking.” (2)
Why these “liquid diets” don’t even work (even when it’s not all booze)
In a recent LiveScience article, the obvious is scientifically explained – liquids won’t fill you up like food does, leaving you unsatisfied.
“Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses,” said Richard Mattes, M.P.H, R.D., a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University. “When drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.” (3)
But beyond that, without solids going in, solids won’t properly come out. The entire gastrointestinal tract can be thrown into hazardous disarray with a little-food, high-alcohol diet.
It’s not conducive to healthy, sustained weight loss.
Tweaking away the pounds
In a shocking CBS News report, Samantha Rizzo of St. Paul, Minn. describes how at age 16 a couple of men told her it would be “something fun to do.” A friend of hers added she had heard it makes you skinny, and that’s all it took for Rizzo to try it.
“I was a hefty little girl,” she told CBS News. “But it started when people would tease me every day about what I looked like and harassed me on the Internet….
“Then it started in my head that, ‘You’re not good enough. You’re not, you know, small enough.’ ”
Rizzo’s weight melted away fast, as did her self-respect.
She explains to the CBS News reporter where she would get crystal meth.
“People. Around. Like teenage guys, definitely, you know, had it all the time and they would just give it to the girls. And girls would do anything for it.”
Anything? asked (the reporter).
“Well, pretty much, yes. …I’m ashamed of some of the things I’ve done.” (4)
Crystal meth is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. Dangerous malnutrition can ensue at warp speed, especially for someone looking to lose weight to begin with.
Anyone who has turned to crystal meth more than once should seek help immediately.
What doctors tell their own at-risk kids heading to college
CBS News recently asked physicians what they tell their own children who are heading off to college. Young adults in college face challenges related to looking good at perhaps the most pivotal – and vulnerable — point in their lives.
The doctors did not focus on the physical damage drinking can cause. Instead, they all warned of the poor decision-making that can ensue, leading to imminent danger.
Said Dr. Felice Adler, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and UC Irvine:
“We know there’s going to be a lot of exposure to alcohol at school.
“I tell my two kids, while it’s best not to drink, if you feel that’s something you have to do, then do it responsibly. Never take an open drink from someone. Never have a drink mixed elsewhere by someone else – so no one’s spiking your drink or putting drugs in your drink.
“And I talk about how alcohol can impair your decision-making and things can happen that you might not normally do. It can make you more vulnerable in situations involving sex that you don’t want to be in and it may make you more likely to try drugs.”
“With my son, I remind him that no means no, and you can’t initiate any sexual activity with someone you think has been drinking.” (5)
Why do you want to lose weight at any price?
It’s natural and, indeed, showing responsibility for good health when someone makes an effort to lose weight. But turning to drugs and alcohol to do it, or while doing it, hints at an underlying problem.
This is because a person motivated to lose weight for good health would not knowingly partake in activities incredibly bad for their health to do it.
It makes no sense.
An underlying issue of pain or trauma likely is causing the person to want to lose weight at any cost.
Feeling good about one thing may temporarily quell anxiety about another problem. But for the alcoholic or the addict, it’s a constant cycle until they learn to break free.
- Rosenbloom, C. (2017, Sept. 26). Five enduring rules to obey in pursuit of balanced nutrition. The Washington Post via the Sacramento Bee. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2017, from http://www.sacbee.com/food-drink/article175590176.html
- Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drunkorexia
- Talmadge, K. Stealth Assault on Health: Beverages Pack Calorie Punch. Live Science. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/38694-keeping-calories-from-juice-in-check.html
- Dakss, B. (2005, July 20). Crystal meth’s weight loss dangers. CBS News. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/crystal-meths-weight-loss-dangers/
- Marcus, M. (2016, Aug. 25). Advice doctors give their own kids before they head off to college. CBS News. Retrieved Oct. 5, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/advice-doctors-give-their-own-kids-before-they-head-off-to-college/