Editorial: Not everything is a disorder, like ‘drunkorexia’

By Staff Editorial

College students are constantly surrounded by a plethora of unhealthy eating and drinking… College students are constantly surrounded by a plethora of unhealthy eating and drinking choices. Leaving school with extra weight is somewhat expected, considering simply the food choices of college students, let alone the amount of binge drinking that commonly takes place.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, campus health educators have recognized a form of disordered eating that they’re calling “drunkorexia.” A “drunkorexic” person sacrifices food calories for drink calories by cutting back on their meals on days they plan to drink heavily.

“Campus health educators see a spectrum of disordered eating and drinking, from dieting and over-exercising in order to party on the weekends, to medically definable conditions,” such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge-eating disorder, The Denver Post reports.

The Pitt News recognizes that there are medically definable eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. But the fact that more and more suggested disorders are being introduced shows our society’s need to “medicalize” and label everything. We feel that “drunkorexia” is an example of getting carried away with our desire to categorize.

Another example is avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder — which is essentially a disorder characterized by extreme picky eating. In addition, there’s “orthorexia,” which, according to Time Magazine, is “a controversial diagnosis characterized by an obsession with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.”

We feel that “drunkorexia,” rather than being a medical condition, is an example of our country’s tendency to go to unhealthy extremes. Instead of eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis, we go on all-juice diets or completely eliminate food groups such as carbohydrates.

Scaling back on calories once a week when you plan on drinking is probably not enough to constitute an eating disorder. But if you’re doing this several times a week, you’re probably not getting enough nutrients, in which case you could be at risk for an already defined eating disorder. In addition, not eating enough food calories consistently is actually counterproductive if looking good is your goal —  you’re actually harming your metabolism.

The idea of eating less to drink more brings up the point that there is a difference between “looking good” and being healthy. We suggest you strive for both.