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Abstract: Self-feeding is a method for anorexia nervosa patients studied to learn not to think of food or weight control, to decrease binges and re-establish biological hunger and satiety signals and reduce anxiety and feelings of guilt linked to food.

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 17 Aug 2008.

Describe the therapeutic method called "self-feeding" for the treatment of anorexia nervosa.


Self-feeding is a therapeutic strategy used in hospital nutritional rehabilitation programmes, but it can also be used successfully during self-help programmes.
Self-feeding is a method studied to learn not to think of food or weight control, to decrease binges and re-establish biological hunger and satiety signals and reduce anxiety and feelings of guilt linked to food.

With this method, patients are taught to eat mechanically, to perform feeding in a mechanical way, behaving as a robot, thus emptying the meal of all meaning. The meal and snacks therefore become an external rule like a medicine to take at a fixed and prearranged time. When you follow a self-feeding programme you do not eat when you are hungry and you do not stop when you are replete, you do not think about what is on the plate, you do not ask anything about food and you do not eat outside prearranged times. On the contrary, you decide in advance how and what to eat and confine yourself to sticking to the programme. You must not skip a meal, and afterwards you try to take your mind off it.

Self-feeding is a method that you also can practise on your own, maybe with the help of a partner or a relative. It must continue till the pangs of hunger and/or satiety and weight obsession begin to decrease.

This calls for on average from 4 to 12 months, but sometimes the time can be even longer.

Self-feeding is considered a very powerful therapeutic tool and people who have used it were considerably helped by it.

More details about self-feeding methods can be found in nearly all self-help texts.

Other methods for the treatment of eating disorders.

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