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A recent Australian study of female college students found that nearly 83 percent engaged in drunkorexia-like behaviors over the course of three months, and of that group, more than 28 percent reported regularly and purposely skipping meals, exercising after drinking or purging to avoid gaining weight from excess alcohol calories.
Binge drinking combined with restrictive and disordered eating can lead to nutritional deficiencies, impaired brain and heart function, memory lapses, depression and cirrhosis, says lead study author Alycia Powell-Jones, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of South Australia. The study also linked emotional and psychological behavior patterns — such as insufficient self-control, social isolation and emotional deprivation — with drunkorexic behavior, and women who engage in drunkorexia are more likely to rely on unhealthy coping strategies, which can negatively affect their relationships, careers and studies, according to Powell-Jones.
It might require some soul-searching or even professional help to determine whether you’re crossing the line into disordered eating. “If you’re regularly planning not to eat, what to eat, or how to fit in an extra gym session before or after a weekend of binge drinking more than once a month, seek help,” Powell-Jones says.