About Abigail Natenshon
Over 35 Years of Eating Disorder Specialty Practice
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Eating Disorder Specialist

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    Take away Tasks
for Binge Eating and Night Eating Syndrome


For Binge Eating

  1. When you feel a binge coming on, ask yourself what you are actually feeling anxious or sad about?  Binge eating is not only habitual, but emotionally triggered.
  2. Have a notebook ready to chart what you feel, what may have triggered your feelings.  Self-awareness is an important key to recovery.
  3. Make a decision to wait ten minutes before what would be the start of your binge. If you cannot wait that long, wait less.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  4. Sit down at a table to eat your food.  Never eat standing up, on the run, to music, or in front of a television.
  5. Wear an elastic bracelet and snap it hard to bring you back to your sense of self control and capacity for self determination.
  6. Think about other places, times, or instances in your life where you might also feel this compulsion to do something destructive to yourself. Write about them in your journal.
  7. Think about other times when you have known success in self-determination; try to recall what you did and how it felt.
  8. If you find yourself bingeing despite your efforts not to, forgive yourself.  If you have a hard time doing so, recognize in what other life situations you have noticed a similar pattern.
  9. Try to find someone at home to eat with when you begin to feel the urge to eat.
  10. Don’t bring binge or trigger foods in to your home. Keep them out of your pantry.
  11. Eat three square meals each day. Allow your snacks.
  12. Understand that any mistake presents a wonderful opportunity for learning about yourself and for growth.  Notice how you felt before, during, and after the problem behaviors occurred.  What was the hardest part for you?  What might be a reasonable step to take next time to begin to change this self-destructive behavioral pattern?
  13. Find a supportive person to talk with about this…preferably a therapist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.  A friend will do in the meantime.




About Night Eating Syndrome

Night eating syndrome is a form of bulimia; this syndrome represents a compulsion to awaken and get out of bed to go to the kitchen and binge eat during the middle of the night.  Often, patients feel as though they are in a trance during the event, so they have no control over what they eat, or the fact that the behaviors have become entrenched.  Eventually, tremendous anxiety builds up around the act of waking and/or falling back to sleep, stimulating the eating behavior that releases endorphins to calm the individual.


Night eating syndrome can be caused by restricting an appropriate intake of calories during the waking hours, and by the brain learning to expect a reward of food upon waking.  The rituals around these behaviors need to be disturbed; behaviors need to be altered in an effort to offer the brain alternative options.  The need is for creative self-determination, which can be facilitated by the use of medication; nothing is more potent than to subscribe to a rigorously healthy daily eating lifestyle (following the protocols posted above for binge eating disorder,) and the attempt to call upon one’s own internal resources as well as supportive others (including professional help) in an effort to establish new behavioral patterns.


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