Is It OK To Drink Alcohol On An Empty Stomach?
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Student Life

College Students Are Replacing Food With Alcohol — And Sacrificing Their Health In The Process

Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to "gastritis, ulcer, and malnutrition" in the long run.

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Women drinking wine together

Being able to drink whatever you want while remaining (or striving for) thin. The new face of eating disorders sings an oddly familiar tune, and it's spreading across college campuses faster than anorexia or bulimia. A trend noted by researchers was that people, mainly college students, were skipping meals or over-exercising to save or "burn calories, making room for drinking at night", with looking good in the forefront of their mind.

When I first read the Atlantic article discussing the alcohol industry and its shift to cater to our insecurities, I didn't see the issue. So someone wants to save calories by replacing their meal with alcohol? This doesn't seem like a real problem.

What I was missing, however, was that alcohol calories and food calories are not interchangeable. Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to "gastritis, ulcer, and malnutrition" in the long run, according to Dr. Mark Peluso of the Middlebury College health center.

In college-focused studies, the results are clear: vigorous exercise and disordered eating "uniquely predicted binge-drinking". Even more strikingly, those who used laxatives or vomited in the last month to lose weight we're 76% more likely to binge drink. That's a lot. And the mix of a negative body image, disordered eating, and excessive alcohol consumption is a disaster waiting to happen, on every college campus.

How did we get here? The alcohol industry is marketing straight to the vulnerable minds of young, self-conscious women. Through ads marketing "diet alcohol," public health researchers and college health professionals encourage college students to engage in what is being more commonly called "drunkorexia." Marketing campaigns veiled as Weight Watcher-friendly are actually fueling a new set of eating disorders, and college campuses have easily become the perfect birthplace of it. The need to be liked, perfect, and pretty combined with the drinking culture is a deadly storm, even if we haven't seen the direct effects of it.

I've seen it with my own eyes. When asked about eating and drinking habits, one college girl recounts that she commonly skipped dinner before a night out to save calories and get drunker faster on purpose. Another female student added that she could name at least 4 other friends who engaged in this pattern of behavior. Even more concerning, no one saw it as a problem. They thought about it as a dieting trick, some kind of secret to losing weight, a strength even.

The most terrifying part? After telling them the effects of drinking on an empty stomach, such as messing with your stomach health, there was only a series shrugs. Translation: it didn't matter that their internal health was suffering. The desire to fit a beauty standard overpowered the logic of otherwise well-educated young women.

If a beauty standard is repeatedly causing young people to wreck themselves from the inside out, whether it's not eating, forcing themselves to throw up, or unhealthy drinking habits, it's time for the emergency alarm to sound on our culture.

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about your personal health, or even your concerns about friends, click this link for information and a hotline number. You're not alone.

Finally, if you want to share your opinion on this issue, anonymously or not, shoot me a message on Facebook.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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