What Is Drunkorexia?

Samantha Hearne
By Samantha Hearne,
updated on Dec 21, 2017

What Is Drunkorexia?

More and more people are skipping meals in favour of binge-drinking later in the day. This alarming new trend is now ‘prolific’ in the UK, so it’s time we talked about why we are practising self-starvation


Have you ever skipped a meal because you’re just too busy? Or stopped yourself eating certain foods at certain times of the day to prevent bloating? Or cancelled lunch plans because you’re on the town later that night?

Drunkorexia – a colloquial, non-medical term to describe someone restricting food calories in the day (or purging their food) in order to make room for alcoholic drink calories later in the evening – sounds much scarier than it needs to be. It’s a word that can be fuelled with judgement and negativity.

We don’t want that.

According to studies, drunkorexia affects 30% of women aged 18-23. In other words, this is something so many people struggle with – without even knowing it. So it’s time to unpick this worrying new trend.

Drunkorexia has a two-pronged meaning: skipping meals to save our calories for a night out, and depriving ourselves of vital nutrients throughout the week so that we can binge on “treats” at the weekend. Essentially, it’s working hard and playing even harder.

We all do it

Picture this person. She wakes up at the crack of dawn, jumps in the shower, and then rushes to make it to her morning meeting. “I’ll skip breakfast and just grab a coffee,” she says. Her working day is manic; surrounded by deadlines and endless emails to answer. “I’ll grab a quick sandwich and just eat it at my desk,” she thinks.

After work (which never quite ends when it should), she has things to do – go to the gym, do a food shop, pick up the kids from school, wash and blow dry her hair for tomorrow’s meeting. “I have no energy to cook dinner, I’ll just have a quick ready meal instead,” she tells herself.


So many of us live our lives on autopilot – rushing from place to place, jumping from to-do list to to-do list, errand to errand, deadline to deadline.

We never just... stop

Simple things like eating healthily, or taking time to actually unwind and take care of ourselves, are slipping so far down our priority list that we forget to do them, which means we spend the majority of our working week neglecting our health and nutritional needs, and for what? A job deadline?

Now, let’s talk about the weekend.

Even from waking up on a cold Monday morning, it can be so hard not to fantasise about the weekend and wish the days away. We dream of that Saturday lie-in, that pyjama day, that social event, that birthday party, that special time to relax and unwind. Yet, when it comes to the weekend we get so fixated on cramming in the fun that we feel we should “make the most of it”. After all, we only get one full day before the Sunday blues. Who doesn’t say: “If I don’t do something with my weekend, it’s a waste!”

Change the mindset

Our weekend mindset leaves us almost feeling panicked into having more fun than we actually want to have. So now we are drinking more, staying out later, burning the candle at both ends, and all just to say we’ve had a “fabulous” weekend when we go back to work on Monday.

With this in mind, I want to take a moment to think about why and how
we ended up in this worrying cycle of modern day living.


When we go out partying (which is what our Friday or Saturday nights are all about, right?), do we ever stop to think about how we truly feel? Ask yourself:

  1. Is getting drunk and binge drinking really making the most of your weekend?
  2. Is the headache and the Sunday hangover in bed worth it?
  3. Do you feel great afterwards?
  4. Are you left feeling nervous about what you may have done the night before?
  5. What did you actually achieve by having that extra shot at 3am?
    Now, think of a weekend where you
    can just switch off.

Seriously, what a heavenly time you could have with a nice relaxing bath instead of a quick shower-change- and-out-the-door? Might you have a delicious dinner and relax, or is there no time – but just enough time to swig a third glass of wine to really get the night started?

Relax and unwind

You see, without even realising it, drunkorexia is far more common than we first thought. All told, it’s simply neglecting your health, your wellbeing and your welfare to ensure that we can get everything done on time, meet our daily deadlines and still manage to see all our friends and enjoy the weekend, like we always think we should.

This hectic lifestyle not only damages your health but will start to hinder your mental health too, as you are not allowing your mind and emotions to truly switch off, refocus, and reflect on how your
day or week has been.


Being motivated, driven and ambitious are priceless attributes. You should never dilute them. However, everything in moderation! Because of our new-found push for success and acceptance, it has created a lifestyle that, in the long term, isn’t sustainable for our
health and mental wellbeing.

It can be hard to balance everything, to get everything done, to see everyone, to go to every event. But that doesn’t make you a failure or any less of a person for wanting a night in with your pyjamas. Your mind needs time to switch off and you need to give yourself some self-love – this will give you much more success and energy in the long term!

You want to be happy and healthy in all aspects of your life, and in all the areas you can’t physically see, like your digestion, mental health, nutritional needs, and your sleep and brain function.

Drunkorexia is a way of life, but it’s only a quick fix. Focus on you and your wellbeing. Think about the long game and ask yourself: “What can I change today to better enhance my life?”

Samantha Hearne

By Samantha Hearne

Samantha coaches women through anxiety in relationships, careers, self confidence and money mindsets. She is a contributor to Happiful magazine.

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