They starve themselves during the days in order to drink calorie-laden drinks at night. The so-called drinkorexia is a growing trend in Sweden and it is a well-known phenomenon among professionals who specialize in eating disorders and alcohol problems, but scientists warn against dire consequences.

“Drinkorexia is not a diagnosis, but a behavior and we see it most clearly in people who already have some form of eating disorder,” says Hanna Kihlander, who works at Riksföreningen Anorexi/Bulimi-Kontakt (National Society of Anorexia/Bulimia-contact). “I am convinced that there are many who only suffer with drinkorexia, but who don’t even think of it as a problem.” Editor of Nyheter 24 and blogger, Quetzala Bianco, was one of them: “When I was younger I often drank a cup of coffee and ate a fish stick in order to be able to drink white wine all evening and get drunk fast. It wasn’t so much about being skinny, it was more a way to save money,” she said in a recent Dagens Nyheter article about drinkorexia. Klara Schmidtz from Stockholm says it is nothing new. When she was out partying ten years ago, she met many who ate very little during the day in order to party and drink at night, and it was socially acceptable. “Most of them wanted to be like everyone else: skinny, happy and out and about with friends every weekend. Many of them said they didn’t eat because they didn’t have enough money, but the problem was often something else.”
Senior physician Kai Knudsen works in clinical toxicology at Sahlgrenska sjukhuset, and he, too, is aware of the problem: “Being drunk is a mild version of alcohol poisoning,” he says. “And your body can’t handle it as well if you haven’t eaten anything. You become less stable, suffer marked mood swings, and also a more intense hang-over since you have no energy- or water depots in your body.” You also risk getting into the risk zone for a number of alcohol problems with such a relationship to alcohol.

ADVERTISEMENT
Volvo Overseas - the ultimate experience

Around 10 percent of women risk some type of eating disorder during their lives and at the moment there are 130,000 women and men in Sweden being treated for eating disorders. When it comes to drinkorexia, it’s everything from young students trying to save money by purchasing cheap noodles in order to drink at night, to those who want to go out and party but are afraid of gaining weight. Dietician and author Katarina Holm Johansson says that drinkorexia occurs when the thin body ideal crashes with the wish to be able to party with friends. Something has to go, and food is the most expendable and boring of the two. “When I was a teenager and on the verge of anorexia, I chose candy and ice cream over food, because it was more fun and I didn’t think about my health but lived for the day.” Back then, according to Holm Johansson, alcohol wasn’t thought of as a weight trap. “Women drink more today, and women today also have a tendency to be more fixated with their weight. Today so much is about weight and many diets mention alcohol as a caloric bomb to watch out for, and that wasn’t the case before.”