Lauren Hyde is a native of County Armagh in Northern Ireland and studied BSc Food, Nutrition and Wellbeing with us for four years before completing her MSc in Food Industry Management. You can find more of our food industry management courses here.
Lauren chose Drunkorexia for her dissertation, a little-researched subject in the UK - and one which a lot of people probably haven’t even heard of! It turned into a real voyage of discovery and we asked Lauren to tell us all about it:
“When choosing my undergraduate dissertation I wanted to choose something associated with public health as that was the area of the degree I was most interested in and wanted to go into public health promotion/nutrition.
"I didn’t choose a title until quite late in the term but when I was reading the Nutrition Society Newsletter I read an article about a rising trend in those compensating eating for drinking alcohol.
"On further research I noticed a lot of studies undertaken in the USA and Italy which focussed on the term ‘Drunkorexia’. I could find no previous research in the UK, and the basis of my research was underpinned by a health questionnaire measuring effectiveness of public health messaging, which found consumers admitting to eating less to drink more.
"When chatting with friends I realised this was a lot broader than American ‘college’ studies and, although obviously all around us, I wanted to know more about the potential impacts?”"
What is drunkorexia?
“Drunkorexia is a colloquial term used to describe the compensatory behaviours undertaken by an individual to purposefully limit calorie intake from food in order to facilitate calorie intake from alcohol.
"The research found that this is not necessarily because of an increased calorie intake, but a perception of individuals. My undergraduate research really opened a can of worms surrounding Drunkorexia in UK students, which encouraged me to look at the general population during my MSc.
"There were grave differences between students and non-student adults, such as where the learned behaviour originated from and the motivations for doing so. It was concerning that the behaviours undertaken to compensate were similar to those of eating disorders, and could have serious implications on mental and physical health of individuals unknowingly believing they may be taking ‘sensible precautions’.
"As you can probably tell I could go on all day and would love to do further study into Drunkorexia!”
Lauren is now working as Marketing Manager at the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland. She oversees their consumer promotion for Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured Beef and Lamb, as well as their Food4Life Education programme.
The consumer marketing work involves promotion of the nutritional benefits of beef and lamb, versatility and eating qualities associated with cooking with red meat. The main focus is on educating consumers on looking for the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Scheme logo (equivalent to Red Tractor) when purchasing beef and lamb.
Lauren manages a team of nine demonstrators who are trained to give over 350 (and rising) cookery demonstrations at schools all over Northern Ireland, teaching health benefits, provenance and cookery skills.
The team also supports teacher training through a series of red meat skills workshops and teaching resources in line with CCEA, the Northern Ireland exam authority.
Lauren's insight into drunkorexia is evidence of how a food degree can help you find a passion project that can lead to great success. If you would like to follow in Lauren’s footsteps of success, have a look at our range of courses here.