SERVICE DESIGN | Design for Mental Health


Priyanjali Rane

Alexander Burdett

Hanyuan Xue

Wei Huang

Shruti Agerwala

Pausetive is an App based service that aims to control binge eating by ones modifying behaviour and mindset towards food, its triggers and cravings by way of activities and self-reflective exercises within a 90 second framework which acts as a behavioural nudge.

It is based on the concept of the ‘90 second’ by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor and includes Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques widely used by therapists for binge eating recovery.

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Key Research

Throughout the research and development of the project, we spoke to people, consulted therapists, conducted interviews and attended conferences to challenge our assumptions and get feedback.


We realized that Binge Eating disorder is a vicious cycle of eating and regretting that quickly spirals into a severe eating disorder. Triggered easily by internal and external stimuli, the sufferer manage emotions of discomfort and stress by binge eating. 

Since cravings are separate from hunger and are specific learned behaviours, our focus is on the early prevention stage for quicker recovery.


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Julian is in her first year at university. she faces many studying pressure and social pressure. She isn’t fat, but sees herself this way in the mirror.  Because of this, she restricts her eating and has become socially anxious which acts as a trigger for her. She is calorie conscious one moment and the other she gives into binge eating which is followed by guilt and the cycle starts again.

This is what a typical day for a binge eater looks like.


As the intensity of a craving builds like a wave it feels like it is going to keep on getting worse.


Instead, it rarely lasts longer than 20 minutes and will peak in intensity after a few minutes before gradually subsiding into nothingness. The 90 seconds helps you identify your emotion, write it down and allow it to dissipate while you simply notice it.


Pausetive responds to two triggers:

The trigger of association, automatically responds to  your location

The trigger of situational, helps you identify stressful situations you are vulnerable to


We created different distinct user types to understand their behaviours and access points for food, to again insights into the touch points for each of them


The home screen widget helps make the app easily accessible with minimum navigation touchpoints. Since the supermarkets can be most triggering for binge eating, the app tracks GPS locations to automatically nudge you in such locations. Push Technologies enable immediate intervention through notification banners, sound and haptics to nudge the user frequently and intern, lead to behaviour change. Added nudges such as before opening a food delivery app also help you take the pause. 


Once our initial concept and prototype were ready, we reached out to Experts.

With some positive push for our concept and acknowledging the lack of service in the prevention and digital sector of binge eating, they directed us to look deeper into labelling emotions and validating our 90sec framework.


They also suggested getting in touch with Beat as they can help us conduct a focus group session with them for our future development.

Concept Testing


We also tested our prototype with two other people who have been through the journey of binge eating. From their experience we realised different techniques for craving management work at different times for different people and hence making the service more personalised was a need.  We also realised that external nudges are more effective and reliable.

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Your first instinct is to resort to food to deal with the stress of the long night you see ahead

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Through the data collected, the app monitors your behavior patterns, also nudging you to seek professional help when needed. We understand that changing binge eating patterns does take time and may not be a service that is used everyday. You may succeed sometimes, and sometimes you may fail, creating your own learning curve. Over time, we want our users to stop using this app after recovery.

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Pausetive has two modes.

It automatically switches on when you are close to a supermarket, based on GPS, or the user can switch it on by themselves when they feel a craving or urge.

During the 90-second break, users will be asked through self-reflections to get in touch with their thoughts. By

completing the 90 seconds, users can receive physical rewards by accumulating points and positive feedback. The principle behind the solution is to reinforce positive behaviours and avoid BED cycles.


We studied the existing services, forums and platforms that are working on BED. We realised that there was nothing that focuses on the preventative stage of BED. Nudges and distraction tools to facilitate behaviour change make us unique and impactful.

Service Structure


We are in the process of further developing this project

Next Steps



Breakdown the brief well

It is essential to understand the brief well, identify and challenge any assumptions early on


Co-creating with your users is powerful

It is a very effective way of learning quickly, challenging and eliminating assumptions and designing for what the users really need


Get creative with finding users

Create interesting ways to find users and stakeholders and keep their interest in your project


Pay attention to the details

Be intentional about the design approach especially when dealing with mental heath