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Adjusting eating habits to fit alcohol consumption is harmful

While some avoid drinking when they have not eaten, others deliberately alter their eating habits to accommodate the alcohol.

According to researchers, “drunkorexia is characterized by disordered patterns of eating such as skipping meals or food restriction, choosing to take only shots or alcoholic drinks believed to be less in calories, or exercising and purging in order to offset calories prior to a planned drinking event in an attempt to avoid negative effects of alcohol consumption such as gaining weight. Some researchers have also theorized that this pattern could be taken on in order to drive greater and faster intoxication.

Now these practices can happen, before during or post a drinking event, and have particularly been seen increasingly among adolescents and young adults in the west. These behaviours negatively affect the mental, psychological and physical well-being of the individuals, and are particularly more detrimental among women. This is due to the fact that women generally weigh less, have lower alcohol-metabolising enzymes, as well as less total body water compared to men. Differences which make women more vulnerable to health conditions resulting from alcohol misuse.

As a country, Kenya has experienced an increase in alcohol consumption including among school going children with age of onset being 13 to 15 years as reported by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcoh(NACADA, 2016). At the same time, obesity has increased and is also affecting adolescents and youths, with females being disproportionately affected. This is in itself a risk factor for alcohol misuse since research has shown women are more affected by their body image and are therefore more likely to result to unhealthy practices in an effort to lose weight or manage their struggles with weight.

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Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.