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Mobile App 

Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits


12 weeks


Kadence Tang,

Yeonji Kim


UX Designer

User Researcher

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According to Escoto et al. (2012), in the research paper "Work Hours and Perceived Time Barriers to Healthful Eating Among Young Adults," many young adults, aged 20 to 31, do not engage in healthy eating. The most frequently reported barrier to healthful eating is lack of time, with young adults citing challenges in balancing work, school, and leisure schedules.


This leads to eating fast food and convenience foods and has been found to be associated with lower fruit and vegetable and greater fast food consumption. Also, not having meals at regular times, particularly skipping breakfast, is associated with poorer diet quality, weaker immunity and higher body weight and may also prevent weight maintenance.

26.4% of females

Don’t have time to think about eating healthy

39.2% of females

Too busy to eat healthy foods

41.3% of males

Don't eat meals at about the same time every day

55.5% of males

Tend to “eat on the run”

Percentage (Unadjusted) of Male and Female Participants Reporting Time-related Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Healthful Eating and Dietary Intake

The Problem

How might we help busy college students cultivate healthy eating habits?

We created a prototype for a mobile-phone application named Munchies that enables users to monitor their eating speed, track the healthiness of their food consumption, and get motivated with rewards.

The Objective

To raise college students’ awareness of healthy eating habits like eating slowly, having meals on time, and consuming healthy food (such as fruits and vegetables).

Target Audience

Young Adults / College Students in the United States (18 - 26 Years Old).

*Health condition is not specified



College students are busy with work and school so they do not eat at regular times. 


College students living by themselves pay less attention to the nutrition of their meals.


College students are not mindful when they are eating (eating too fast & eating with distraction).

Brainstorming: Behavioral Interventions

To understand the essentials of changing people's eating habits, we conducted a literature review on Behavior Change Techniques (BCTs) and related frameworks to come up with 3 concrete intervention components and a casual diagram.

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 Causal Diagram for Improving Eating Habits with 3 Intervention Components

Initial Ideation

To design effective features that reflect the ideas for the intervention components, we established 3 success metrics that indicated our expectations for the users after they use our digital solution. We used these metrics as a guideline to facilitate ideation.

Success Metrics

1.  Users eat 3 meals at regular times with light snacks between meals for a week. 

2. Increase in fruit and vegetable consumption while decreasing fast food consumption.

    Consumption meets the dietary guidelines. 

3. Maintain a healthy eating speed (ideally 30 minutes for each meal) with no distractions.

Ideation Results
Reminder to eat on time and slowly
  1. Receive a reminder before meal time

  2. Use a timer for recording the duration of a meal 

Record meals and show past history
  1. Use a food diary to show ingredients, calories, etc

  2. View the dashboard for tracking eating habits

Lock digital device while eating
  1. Show the start eating button on the lock screen

  2. Pause and snooze when in need of postponing a meal

Wireframes from Ideation

Click to access the wireframe walkthrough video (4 mins)

Rethinking Habituation & Motivation

After we conducted two rounds of usability tests, we discovered that there are important factors in behavioral change we did not consider in our initial ideation process. 


We noticed that many participants complained about having to go through so many steps to record a meal for obtaining data points in the dashboard.


The complexity of the food diary decreases users' interest in using this feature and prevents them from making it a habit. Therefore, for the next iteration we should consider ways to simplify the workflow by implementing high level meal tracking. 


In order to keep users going, a reward system is indispensable. From congratulating messages to coupons for healthy groceries, it serves as an incentive as well as an important feedback that keeps users come back and continue to improve their eating habits. 

P01: "Can I just take a photo of my meal and it will just detect what I eat and calculate the calories."

P02: "Maybe have a

Recommendation for the good time to eat and gaps between meals."

P01: "Too many buttons to push to use the food diary."

P03: "I want to see a reward system for achieving nutrition, calories, or eating time goals."

Feedbacks from usability tests

Revised Key Features

Meal Tracker

Start building healthy eating habits with high level meal tracking, view your progress and achievements 


Reminder & Meal Progress  

Remind users to eat on time, and eat slower with mindfulness



Provide motivation for users to keep up with the good work

Design Revisions

The goal of this health app is to help users cultivate good eating habits. This is not a diet app. Therefore, turning away from logging detailed information such as calories to simplify the workflow is a reasonable design decision.

Meal Tracker

Instead of allowing users to record calories and nutritions of their meals, the final design focuses on high level eating habits such as healthiness of the meals, eating speed, and whether users are eating on time. 

Food Names

Food Categories

Instead of going through a long process to select food from food categories, we changed it into choosing categories to focus on high level nutritions.

Meal Timer

Progress Bar

A timer in the meal tracker can make users feel rushed when having a meal (P01). Therefore, we redesigned the timer and made it into a progress bar at the bottom to show eating progress according to the pre set meal time.

Second Iteration

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Final Prototype

Meal Progress

Instead of showing an accurate timer, we wanted to change it to a progress ring with percentage as users told us that the minutes and seconds are creating anxiety to eat faster and not encouraging them to chew slowly.

To further help users slow down their speed, we included a tip at the bottom to advice them to chew slowly and take a pause every 2 minutes.

Second Iteration

Final Prototype

Final Mockup

Set Up Reminder & Alert

Goal Setting

Customize meal time and duration in the settings page based on recommendations and 

Build a habit of eating on time and being more mindful of eating speed

Earn a Cheat Day

Complete a 5-Day Challenge to earn a break

View the Streak

See number of healthy meals at a glance and feel motivated to keep going

Reminder & Meal Progress

Push Notifications

Appear 15 & 30 Minutes before each meal to give users time to prepare

Progress Ring

Guides users throughout the eating process to help regulate eating speed


Appear on the bottom to remind users to chewy slowly and enjoy their food

“Success” Animation

Celebrates the accomplishment for the day!

Meal Tracker  

Average Meal Time

The daily average meal time will be in the daily summary section on the top

Eat on Time

Allow users to know whether they are eating on time according to their pre-set meal time

Food Diary

Tap on food categories to record what they had without going into calories or ingredients

Healthiness Slider

The healthiness slider allows users to simply log the healthiness of the meal they just had without going into details and help them practice mindful eating



Remind users to adjust their eating habits according to the data in dashboard

Meal Time Graph

Use a line graph to visualize meal time changes over a week and show the average meal time

Meal Healthiness of the Week

A breakdown of users’ weekly food consumption healthiness in a pie chart

Eat Regularly

Show how often users eat on time

Rewards & Achievement


Rewards for accomplishing their goals consecutively

Coupons and Gift Cards

Use collected points to save money on healthy meals  

What I learned

Competitor analysis can sometimes be misleading.

During our research, we conducted a brief competitor analysis and looked at several health and diet apps. As we recognized a pattern in these apps, we developed a misconception that our solution should also include similar features to follow the pattern. This contributes to the temporal deviation from our goals in initial ideation. Fortunately, we got back on track after usability tests and it again proves that validation is indispensable in the design process.

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