More and More



Timeline
Apr - May 2021
Role
Design Researcher
Prototype Designer
Team
Lanjing Liu
Ruby Wei
Chun Zhang
Arya Zheng
Simone Liu
Special Thanks
Yuzhou Chen
Gary Jiao
A noticeable trend raised in the late three years among Chinese young women that they suffer from long-lasting self-shame and weight-regaining in their daily struggle of sticking to a diet.

I was part of a project from Tongji D&I Institute to create a design strategy to relieve the binge-eating problem in dieting. The 5-week project was led by Yuzhou Chen and Gary Jiao from frog design.



INTRO

The Story of A Binge Eater






... 后来某个夜里痛定思痛,决定重新开始节食减肥,这种打鸡血似的激情,通常可以维持两天,最多两天半,第三天的上午大概还能严格进行饮食控制,但是夜幕一降临,就像狼人遇到满月,无法自拔地变身,开始暴食,标配是买一送一韩国炸鸡,再来点平时轻易不能吃的面包蛋糕薯片汉堡,一个人在房间内吃完。第四天早上起来又重新开始节食,运动,晚上继续暴食。
... 就这样循环,似乎被关进了一个只能在固定区间循环播放的电影里,到了定点就要折返,永远无法突破,永远没有终点。食欲就像个拧着嘴奸笑的恶魔,等待着要和你的自卑、堕落、放纵、孤独携手,一同把你吞噬。


... Later, one night, I decided to start a new diet to lose weight. This kind of passion can usually last for two days, at most two and a half days. In the morning of the third day, I can still strictly control the diet, but the night As soon as it came, it was like a werewolf when he met the full moon, he couldn't help himself, and he started to overeat. The standard is buy one get one free Korean fried chicken, and then some bread, cake, potato chips and hamburgers, which are usually not easy to eat, and finished eating alone in the room . The fourth day I woke up in the morning and resumed dieting, exercising, and continued binge eating at night.... just like this, it seems to be locked into a movie that can only be played in a fixed interval, and when it reaches a fixed point, it will turn back, it will never be able to break through, and there will never be an end point. Appetite is like a grinning devil, waiting to devour you together with your inferiority, depravity, indulgence, and loneliness.







CHALLENGE

Figuring Out and Develop a Design Strategy for Binge Eaters.



The goal for this project is to help users to stay away as much as possible from binge-eating. Binge-eating disorder(BED) is usually considered a medical condition that requires psychotherapy or clinical counseling. However, binge-eaters in this particular case either don’t reach a clinical level, or shut their mouths thus swallowing back more depress themselves because of gaining double the weight that is supposed to be lost, which worsen the condition into an abyss non-solve.


We recognize a long treatment is needed to eradicate binge eating from one’s life, so we have higher level goals as a guiding future vision:

Help users stand on their own
Lead users into a sustainable way of staying fit




SOLUTION OVERVIEW
A Design Framework



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PROCESS & METHODS OVERVIEW
A Design Research Process



At the very beginning of our team establishment, the team figured out that 2 out of 5 our members had the experience of binge eating when on a diet during a random lunch chat.



CONTEXT
Surprisingly,
Dieters Eat Excessively



Since 2010s, Chinese young women have been given more autonomy to stay fit by mobile apps and online retailing, while in some cases trapped into its downside of feeling bad about themselves when going on a strict diet. Falling into victims as well, our team initiated several discussions among friends about daily struggle of sticking to a diet. A behavioral as well as psychological problem was shared that almost every one is suffering, or has suffered, from binge-eating in strict dieting cycles, which results in weight regain and shame lasting for a very long period.




Baidu Index shows 20-29 women are frequent searchers for ‘暴食’ (binge-eating). Among those online communities used mostly by 20-29 women, we chose Weibo (the Chinese Twitter) and 小红书 (Xiaohongshu App), two most-likely safe ears to binge-eaters, for quantitive and qualitative insights correspondingly. We scraped 5000 posts from April 26 to 27 with a keyword ‘暴食’ (binge-eating) from Weibo and analyzed them into a keyword map and a semantic map. We discovered that binge-eating largely correlates with dieting and caused bad mood because of negative thoughts possibly happening at night on weight and the body figure.

5000 Weibo Scraping posted on 4/27/2021


We got 10 most -frequent words that came together with ‘暴食’ (binge-eating) after the extraction of meaningless words. They are: ‘自己’ (myself), ‘开始’ (to start), ‘减肥’ (dieting), ‘最近’ (recently), ‘不好’ (bad), ‘今天’ (today), ‘体重’ (weight), ‘晚上’ (evening), ‘情绪’ (mood), ‘焦虑’ (anxious).


Keyword Frequency Matrix


From the semantic map we see a sub-center around ‘减肥’ (dieting) connected heavily with ‘体重’ (weight), ‘吃饭’ (to eat), ‘控制’ (to control), ‘情绪’ (mood), ‘焦虑’ (anxious), ‘每天’ (daily/everyday), ‘瘦’ (slim), ‘运动’ (to do workouts), ‘肚子’ (belly) and ‘熬夜’ (to stay up).


Keyword Semantic Cloud Map 


ACADEMIC RESERCH
Restricted Dieting



From the academic study, the team had a grasp of how eating disorders progress in the scientific field. Making definitions clear helps us target our potential users by a quantifiable standard: How frequently does the user overeat? How much do they eat every time?


COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

Insufficient Current Solutions


Current market solutions, sadly, didn’t provide specific support for our target users. Physical methods such as antidepressants, in-person training camps, meal-replacement, and colon-cleanse medicine couldn’t solve the problem at its core. Psychological treatment such as therapists and mindful eating are too high-level or require too much of a recipient.



THE DISCOVERY

Binge and Dieting Run In Correlated Cycles


Judy Lightstone figured a diagram mapping the binge-eating cycle. We decided to base our research on his theory. 


Binge Eating Cycles cr. Judy Lightstone (2002)


DIARY RESEARCH

A Typical Day of a Binge Eater


“Why do young women overeat repeatedly when they are on a diet?”
Credit to its image-based feature, Xiaohongshu is a perfect place for diary studies. Under the standard of having posted 10+ binge-eating related diaries with both images (showing the amount of food eaten) and descriptions under a frequency of greater or equal to 3 times a week, we picked out 5 typical targets for our project.



Template for Diary Studies
The criteria for user selection are:
(1) More than 10 posts about binge eating with both photos and captions.
(2) Meet a regular frequency like one or two times a week, plus they really eat up to an excessive amount of food.

Key points to look at:
- Any related or abnormal conditions
- Background Information such as diet & binge duration, binge frequency, binge time and scenarios
- Features about diaries
- How long is the post? Is there a regular posting cycle?
- How did the user feel through their words?
- Is there a relationship between their mental state and dieting?
- How are the comments below?

Based on the chronicle order, we re-arranged the stickers into an integrate journey map and discovered 5 early insights.






Based on the chronicle order, we re-arranged the stickers into an integrate journey map and discovered 5 early insights.





Assumption #1
WHAT IF break the private space with themselves by talking to others before the binge happens? 


Assumption #2
WHAT IF something tangible that users can interact with to help shift attention elsewhere during the binge?


Assumption #3
WHAT IF users have a tool or platform to track their behavior and let our emotion after the binge?



USER INTERVIEW

Research Aimed for Design


Based on our previous design assumptions, we went through a series of preparation before the interviews such as the discussion guide (pic1), user selection process including setting criteria, screening and selection (pic2), stimuli (pic3), and debrief form (pic4). 


SYNTHESIS

Connecting the Dots


We immediately sythesized the research outcomes by color-coding key details by iterations. We catagorized and re-organized for 3 rounds to connect seemingly irrelavant details to converge into insights. 


PERSONA

A Stressed Young Girl


Since 2010s, Chinese young women have been given more autonomy to stay fit by mobile apps and online retailing, while in some cases trapped into its downside of feeling bad about themselves when going on a strict diet. Falling into victims as well, our team initiated several discussions among friends about daily struggle of sticking to a diet. A behavioral as well as psychological problem was shared that almost every one is suffering, or has suffered, from binge-eating in strict dieting cycles, which results in weight regain and shame lasting for a very long period.



INSIGHTS

Invisible Triggers Under Emotional Behaviors



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OPPORTUNITY AREA

A Cycle Trail-Blazer



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THE DESIGN QUESTION

Break Down Key Phases Throughout The Problem



… how might we create a solution that can automatically detect the amount of food intake, actively notify the users after certain amount and interfere their intention to overeat?


Assumption #1: WHAT IF break the private space with themselves by talking to others before the binge happens?

1. HOW MIGHT WE provide an intervention before binge starts by detecting food intake and making alerts?




Assumption #2: WHAT IF something tangible that users can interact with to help shift attention elsewhere during the binge?

2. HOW MIGHT WE shift binge-eaters’ attention after intervention works?




Assumption #3: WHAT IF users have a tool or platform to track their behavior and let our emotion after the binge?

3. HOW MIGHT WE help binge-eaters accept the matter of fact after they binge?




A Long-term Physiological Solution Based on FBM Theory







REFLECTIONS & NEXT STEPS

Follow-up User-Test

If we have more time, I will do user testing with this box and mobile apps with previous 8 interviewees Besides, I think we could make more prototypes right after we got assumptions in the phase 4.

Define the right design question.

This design experience started from an ambiguous prompt from Frog. 

The Use of Avatar and Virtual Characters

I was surprised to see 4 out of 6 projects used avatars in their product design on the pitch day.