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|
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|
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