New Year’s Resolution

     Each year while I was bulimic, I made a New Year’s resolution to stop binge eating.  The part of me that drove the binge eating (my lower brain/animal brain) loved this yearly ritual.  It viewed the days leading up to January 1st as one non-stop binge opportunity. I (residing in my rational/human brain) went along with my lower brain’s demands for the most part, because after all, it simply made sense to indulge considering I would never binge again come January 1st (Of course, back then I didn’t draw a line of separation between the part of me that wanted to binge and the part of me that had made the resolution, so it certainly seemed like the only “logical” thing to do). 

     As New Year’s day arrived each year, there was a sense of dread.  Can I really quit? I thought. In December, it sounded nice to think a New Year would bring a binge-free me; but looking back, my resolutions usually only served as excuses to binge prior to the resolution’s start date. If I was quitting tomorrow, next week, next year; it gave me reason to binge today, this week, this year.  My resolutions usually only lasted a few days, possibly a week if I was lucky; but it always ended the same – back in front of the pantry, refrigerator, or nearest fast food restaurant.        

     In my book, I talk about the first New Year’s Eve when I didn’t have to make a resolution to stop binge eating. I wasn’t with family or friends or at a party; I was simply alone with my thoughts, watching celebrations on TV. It was a wonderful feeling knowing the next year would be different, that I wouldn’t just fail three days later, that I’d never have to resolve to quit binge eating ever again. I’d already done that, and surprisingly, it had not been difficult. 

     If you are in the grip of bulimia or BED, know that if you make a New Year’s resolution to quit binge eating, only part of you is making that resolution (your rational/human brain).  The other part of you (your lower/animal brain) will not stop producing urges to binge come January 1st. It has no regard for time, and will automatically demand binges no matter what day or year it is. If you can recognize those automatic and faulty messages from your lower brain, put them in proper perspective, and know that they never have to lead you into the wrong actions; you can keep your New Year’s Resolution.

2 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolution

  1. Kathryn, I’ve been on this ridiculous “last days of Pompeii” thing, pre-diet, for more years than I even care to mention. I’m pre-resolution/resolution several times in one month, forget the yearly resolution. This illustrates for me that perhaps the resolution itself is a problem? Maybe the resolution should be immediate, as in right now, so that I do not have this binge-before madness? Because it’s like a crazy merry-go-round going nowhere right now.

    1. If you’ve read my book, you know I talk a lot about Jack Trimpey’s “Rational Recovery.” Trimpey does an amazing job of talking about the concept of “now” when it comes to addiction. Not binge eating ever again really comes down to never binge eating “now”…because it’s always “now.”

      It is in our nature to set goals and use time as a means of measuring our success/progress, so I think having resolutions can be useful for a lot of things. However, when it comes to binge eating and other addictions, the resolutions create a “Mardi Gras before Lent” mentality, which sadly ends up leading to too much Mardi Gras (sorry, New Orleans native here:-)).

      I think an important thing about learning to never binge “now,” is to realize that quitting is not a sacrifice that will take away your enjoyment of food (as diets often do!). Quitting binge eating actually leads to an ability to take more pleasure in food…true enjoyment, not just a temporary high.

      What sometimes helps people who struggle with not binge eating “now,” is to do what I’ll call a reverse resolution. Instead of telling yourself you can binge now and quit tomorrow; tell yourself you won’t binge “now,” but you can binge tomorrow if you want. Keep telling yourself that until not binge eating “now” becomes second nature, and binge eating “tomorrow” no longer seems appealing.

Comments are closed.