Felicity Curtain


Rise of the drunkorexic – dieting to drink

image from oprah.com

If I told you that a vodka and coke contained the kilojoule equivalent of a tablespoon of mayonnaise, would you think twice about ordering it?

Go for a double shot and you’re almost up to a slice of pizza.

This confronting, but realistic approach to handling the bar has reportedly snowballed into a whole new kind of disordered eating – but it’s not the booze that’s being forfeited, it’s the food.

The media-coined ‘drunkorexia’ is characterised by a self-imposed restriction on food in preparation for the consumption of alcohol – in other words, the amalgamation of disordered eating with binge drinking.

Victoria Osborne, an assistant professor of social work and public health at the University of Missouri, found that 16 per cent of surveyed college students admitted to restricting calories in order to compensate for heavy drinking. Typical motivations included “preventing weight gain, getting intoxicated faster, and saving money”.

The dangers of drinking are well known. Consumption of alcohol is linked to over 60 medical conditions, and raises the overall risk of cancer. Intoxication affects coordination, concentration and judgement; is responsible for serious adverse social consequences; and accounts for 13% of preventable teenage deaths in Australia.

Add an empty stomach into the mix and you’re more likely to reach an unhealthy level of intoxication quickly, says Michael Thorn; chief executive of FARE, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

But why all the fuss – is alcohol really fattening?

Despite containing no fat, alcohol is an energy dense food. To put it in context:

Fat 37 kilojoules per gram
Alcohol 27 kilojoules per gram
Protein 17 kilojoules per gram
Carbohydrates 16 kilojoules per gram

image from eattoperform.com

Add to that a sugar-laden mixer and you’ve got yourself a liquid meal, so it’s no surprise that diet-savvy consumers are finding ways to compromise outside of the bar.

The problem is, though, despite what Coca-Cola would have us to believe, all kilojoules are not equal: alcohol may be high in energy, but it offers no additional nutrients or benefits. By skimping on whole foods to make up for the looming energy hit, you’re foregoing essential nutrients needed for growth, maintenance and repair – not to mention to deal with the intake of an actual toxin.

And incidentally, yes, alcohol is considered a toxin – there’s a reason it’s used to kill germs.

So while the concept of ‘drunkorexia’ is abhorrent, being aware of the kilojoule content in alcohol is important. If you’re watching your weight, sticking to clear liquors and low-sugar mixers like soda water or cranberry juice won’t break the diet.


alcohol serve size % alcohol kilojoules exercise to burn off food equivalent
Spirit – gin, vodka, rum, whiskey 1 shot (30ml) 40% 290kj 25 mins light housework 1 medium apple (135g)
white wine – standard serve 100ml 11% 344kj 20 mins gardening 1 can tuna in springwater (95g)
red wine– standard serve 100ml 13% 357kj 30 mins bowling 2 jelly snakes
sparkling wine – standard serve 150ml 18% 403kj 15 mins rollerskating 1 party pie
beer 375ml 4% 574kj 20 mins gentle cycling 1 small chicken drumstick (50g)
beer – light (reduced alcohol) 375ml 1.5-2.5% 390kj 1 hour walking 6 multigrain crackers (20g)
beer – low carb 375ml 4% 454kj 25 mins pilates 1 tablespoon peanut butter
cider, apple – dry 375ml 5% 608kj 40 mins gentle walking 1 small coleslaw (110g)
cider, apple – sweet 375ml 5% 836kj 20 mins jogging 2 slices raison toast (65g)
vodka + cola 167ml 20% 693kj 30 mins golfing 1 piece of cheese (40g)
vodka – lime and soda 167ml 13% 727kj 30 mins low impact aerobics ½ can baked beans (105g)
vodka + cranberry juice 167ml 11% 199kj 20 mins yoga porridge made from oats and skim milk (1/4 cup)
vodka + soda 167ml 13% 407kj 10 mins rock climbing 1 scoop vanilla icecream
vodka + energy drink 167ml 13% 748kj 20 mins volleyball handful of raw almonds (30g)
vodka + diet carbonated mixer 167ml 13% 407kj 25 mins powerwalking 1 chocolate bar (50g)
mojito 177ml 13% 601kj 20 mins hiking ½ medium avocado (150g)
margarita 118ml 33% 706kj 15 mins vigorous cycling 1 piece teriyaki chicken sushi
cosmopolitan 81ml 27% 613kj 20 mins tennis 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
daiquiri 118ml 20% 512kj 35 mins surfing ½ small cinnamon donut (35g)
pina colada 266ml 13% 1932kj 1 hour swimming 1 mcdonalds double cheeseburger

Categories: In the News

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s