New Year's resolutions can also trigger other common eating disorders, according to Wagner.
Commitments to diet and exercise can sometime spiral into anorexia nervosa. Anorexics suffer from a crippling obsession with food, calories, and exercise that results in dramatic weight loss. The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that between 0.5 and 1% of American women suffer from anorexia — and between 5% and 20% of them will die from it.
But Wagner told Revelist that implementing a new, restrictive diet plan can also lead to another extreme.
"If someone is eating too few calories during the day and they end up over-eating or binge eating in the evening and this becomes a pattern, they are at risk for developing binge eating disorder," she said.
Binge eating disorder, as Revelist previously reported, is characterized by repeatedly eating large amounts of food, to the point of physical discomfort and mental shame. These "binges" are often accompanied by a feeling of losing control, and can be triggered by restrictive eating throughout the day. Side effects include weight gain, depression, and anxiety.
Wagner suggests adopting more modest, realistic resolutions in order to prevent complications.
"If you plan to set a New Year’s resolution related to eating or exercise, remember to have moderate expectations that include flexibility, so you decrease the risk of feeling like a failure if you are unable to attain your goals," she told Revelist.
And if you feel that you have developed an eating disorder already, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also call 877-789-5758, email email@example.com, or visit eatingrecoverycenter.com to speak with a Masters-level clinician at the Eating Recovery Center.