Contributor: Camille Williams, MA, LCPC, Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls
Recovery from an eating disorder is a journey that is not linear or perfect. The process of rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and the body requires ongoing effort.
It is not always easy to stay on track. That’s why it is so critical to have plans in place to help with getting back on track, if need be.
There are several important elements for continued success in eating disorder recovery. These include awareness, honesty, and accountability to a support system.
Awareness is the first step because it is absolutely essential to be mindful of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors regarding food. Taking awareness one step further is examining the intention and motivation behind the relationship with food.
Eating disorders are very sneaky illnesses. They can come up with many excuses or justifications to use behaviors such as being too busy to eat, joining in because everyone else is trying this brand new diet, or having a stressful day means it’s ok to emotionally eat. If an individual is truly aware of what their relationship with food is based on, then this allows for honesty with themselves and others.
Honesty is very challenging because being truthful and admitting there is a problem eventually translates into recognizing that help is required and change must occur. An eating disorder would vastly prefer that a person stays in denial. Where honesty is absent, unhealthy behaviors can continue to flourish. Being honest with others is also frightening due to the potential fear of being judged, misunderstood, rejected, and invalidated.
It is important to have a support system that is knowledgeable about eating disorders and the recovery process. This ultimately provides a safe space to be honest and transparent. Honesty with others opens the door for support, conversation, and accountability with eating disorder thoughts, urges, and behaviors.
Accountability is a powerful way for an individual to feel supported and not alone in their recovery process. Therapists, sponsors, dietitians, family members, friends, and support group members can all be a part of an accountability network that helps and individual to stay on track. Accountability follows honesty because it requires the individual to be completely open and honest about where they are in their recovery journey.
Find a way for accountability to be most beneficial. This includes such activities as dining with others, talking to a sponsor during a particularly difficult meal, and going to meetings immediately after meals to provide a distraction and a safe space to acknowledge urges.
It is necessary for each individual to figure out specific ways that will be most effective in creating an environment for honesty and accountability with their support system.
If you are struggling, acknowledge that urges or behaviors are showing up, be honest with yourself and others about it, and utilize support from others to help you stay accountable to your recovery plan. Regardless of how yesterday went you have the opportunity to commit to recovery each day, each meal, and each snack. Intentionally recommit to your meal plan, your recovery goals, and importantly, your meaningful life.
About the Author: Camille Williams, MA, NCC, LCPC
As the Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Camille supports the development of curriculum, supervises the eating disorder specialist, and provides group therapy. She also educates and trains all staff on campus and advocates for eating disorder awareness through publications.
Camille started at Timberline Knolls as a Behavioral Health Specialist. She then transitioned into the Eating Disorder Specialist (EDS) role. In this position for nearly five years, she developed her skills and competence in working with the eating disorder population.
Camille received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both psychology and sociology from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Clinical Professional Psychology from Roosevelt University, IL.
Camille is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP).
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals. We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 12, 2016. Published on EatingDisorderHope.com