How do you reach a point in recovery where eating three balanced meals a day becomes second nature? Is it possible to stop this endless cycle of relapse following periods of recovery?
For me, the answer to those questions have been an accountability partner.
What exactly is an “accountability partner”?
It can be anyone of your choosing that you’re close to. For example, it could simply be a friend, parent, spouse or sibling who you check in with whenever you eat a meal.
If they don’t hear from you in a while, they can send a quick text or call, just to see how you’re doing and if you’ve eaten yet.
They are there primarily to encourage you, support you, and bring reason to an unreasonable disease.
I have found that it has been more affective if you select someone that hasn’t struggled with disordered eating. The process may be too triggering for them.
How do I find the right person?
You may approach several people, as I have in the past, and not have any successes. But I assure you, that person exists. And once you find them, you will be so grateful you did.
For me, my best friend stepped up to the challenge of being my accountability partner. She saw I was struggling, and offered her help. As goal-oriented person who always seek to please; this system appeals to both of those elements of my personality.
Eating disorders thrive in isolation. By involving an individual that cares about you into your recovery process, you are directly fighting back.
Keep asking and seeking, the right person to help you with this will come your way.
How does this work practically?
So, let’s say you found your perfect accountability partner… what do you do now? There are a lot of ways you could work this out to fit your exact needs. But as an example, here’s how I’ve been working with my accountability partner.
I simply send her a quick text letting her know that I ate a meal and thus achieved my goal. If she hasn’t heard from me around one of my typical meal times, she knows I haven’t eaten. She then sends me a quick message and asks what’s up.
Sometimes I just haven’t gotten to texting her yet. Other times my ED voice is waging war in my brain. But each time (sometimes with some encouragement from my friend,) I persevere- no matter how difficult it may seem.
Her encouraging words win over the lies of my eating disorder.
Why does this work?
I’m convinced it is because of two elements: care and love.
An eating disorder lacks both of these crucial elements, and therefore doesn’t stand a chance against my friend’s supportive stance. She wants the best for me, while my eating disorder only wants the worst.
I remind myself of that every time I face that ED voice.
That isn’t to say that all the work falls on this person. They are there to serve as your guide; to put too much responsibility on them would only end up backfiring.
YOU are the one in recovery.
Every day, you make positive decisions that will ultimately help you conquer your eating disorder. Continuously remind yourself that you are the one making improvements. You are choosing to change your life.
That mindset may need to be restated by your “accountability partner” at first. But with time, you will find yourself reciting this kind of inner mantra to help motivate you to take on that bite of food, meal, or even entire day.
It really works
I didn’t realize how dramatic the impact of having my friend hold me accountable would be.
After just two weeks of working with my accountability partner, I was making incredible progress. And I’ve continued to make progress.
It has significantly strengthened our friendship, allowed my secretive ways to be more exposed, and allowed me to overcome many of the obstacles my eating disorder throws in the way.
Of course I still trip up on this difficult journey. I make mistakes, get frustrated, and disappoint myself.
But now, I have someone to ease the burden a little bit.
I have allowed someone to travel this journey with me, and that is such a great comfort. An accountability partner may not work for everyone’s individual recovery, but it’s worth a try.