How we can eat better nowadays

As part of a capstone project, while doing a specialization in Design Interaction by the UC San Diego, I was challenged to change a common human habit. I think nothing is more human, more essential, and more routine than EATING.

While researching this subject, I've found some pretty good stuff and an interesting solution, so here we go.

The human issue

As humans, we tend to not pay attention to our routine habits, we make them on automatic mode, however, our lives are hanging on some of those routines, making them essential for us to die or to live. Fortunately, some of those are also "automatic" like breathing, but others like eating, are "semi-automatic", demanding a response from our brains and acts from our bodies.

Nowadays, we are always multitasking: working, thinking, eating, sleeping, reading notifications… and I hope, breathing as well…

We are as good as ducks, they walk, swim, and fly, however, they are not the best walkers, swimmers nor flyers...

Let’s face it, with all things we have to do, we are not good eaters… We do not have time to prepare our own food, so we put in our mouths the first thing they sell to us, we are not concerned anymore with what we are eating, as long as we are breathing and able to live.

The mental model problem

Like our actual bad eating habits, as humans, we do not like to change our current habits except when we are in a dangerous zone, so I don't think we should invest our efforts trying to change something we know that with our crazy schedules we will end up forgetting everything. I don't think we should try to change the human mental model, I think we can use technology to improve it.

Solution #1: A Tech Coach

Are we not managing our eating habits? No problem, technology can do this for us by collecting our personal information like weight, height, allergies, etc. After that, the system can generate a complete diet based on calories per day and calories per meal offering meals matching your profile settings.

You can customize your meals removing what you don’t like and adding what you really like. You can even search on hundreds of recipe websites to find recipes fitting the amount of calories per meal you need. If you follow the system schedule, it’s simple as it is.

This approach was tested with real users and I've received some valuable feedback of how they liked the idea and how they want the ability to tweak their information to improve their profile which was not implemented upfront.
Prototype: the system can manage your eating habits by understanding your profile

Problem #1

However, this solution alone doesn't solve the whole problem, some pieces are still missing:

  • If we don’t have time anymore, how are we going to cook our healthy meals?
  • Restaurants don’t do or deliver customized meals for each client, no kitchen can handle several different types of ingredients and calories needed per client.

Solution #2: Anyone can cook our meals

If we do not want to cook our meals, there is someone else eager to do it by a fairly amount of money. By using the power of the crowds, the system can connect someone close to you wanting to cook a meal for you exactly like you need and right when you need it. By doing this, we solve the problem of eating better without having to cook your meals and we can reignite the amateur cook market generating several jobs or extra family incomes.

Problem #2

However this solution still doesn't solve the whole problem, a piece is still missing:

  • If someone is cooking our food someplace else, how can the food travel from the cook's kitchen to our mouths?
  • The cooker could deliver the food to us, but a cooker is good at cooking, not delivering.

Solution #3: Delivery options

The humanity is in the delivery business for a while now, I don't want to reinvent the wheel, I'm just proposing current solutions to solve the problem of having the meal traveling from the cooker's kitchen until our hands:

  1. An exclusive delivery system: a good approach would be having employees exclusively for delivery. It can be cheaper and dynamic.
  2. Drones: they might be an excellent choice in a near future, Amazon is already testing it. Looking forward to use it on the food delivery market.
  3. The crowd again: add another layer of crowdsourcing by connecting drivers who want to make deliveries like Uber is doing might be a good approach too, however, it might increase the complexity and cost of the system, so this option should be tested, and tested before be considered.

Conclusion

Eat better is something we must account for no matter what, by using technology, we can eliminate our mistakes and let the healthy habits begin!

As a result of my capstone project, you can check an early prototype of an app gettering information to build a profile and list suggestions of meals and scheduled deliveries.

Some screens from the prototype