project overview

EatJoy is a mobile application that helps emotional eaters to make better food choices, control eating time and amount and track their behavior change overtime, by applying behavior change techniques.


UX Research & Design, UI Design, Consumer Health Technology

September 2018 - January 2019

Team: Qing Guo, Puhe Liang

Tools: Sketch, InVision, Adobe Animate CC

Design Challenge

When eating becomes a burden...

Eating is the daily activity for human beings. But emotional eating is when you eat to satisfy emotional hunger instead of physical hunger.

Negative feeling usually associates to emotional eating

Design Overview

Personalization setting during onboarding

  • Basic information
  • Dietary restrictions and food allergy
  • Nutrition goals
  • Snack and workout preference

Activities and eat clean recommendations

  • Activity recommendations
  • Eat clean recommendations
  • Other eating ideas input & substitutes recommendations

Start controlled eating & reflection

  • Make a contract
  • Start eating and timing
  • Snooze or stop eating
  • Confirm the amount of food you eat
  • Review performance


Literature Review

Emotional eating is strongly related to depressive feelings and can be carefully managed.

Studies have shown emotional eating is a risk factor of obesity, [1] and the relation seems even stronger among adolescent [2]. 40% people report they eat more when they are stressed, and the food they seek for is usually comfort food with high sodium or calories, such as ice cream, pizza [3].

The causes of emotional eating [4] [5] can be categorized into two:

The existing coping strategies include :

Survey & Interviews

Emotional eating is a common concern among college students.

We received 111 survey results and interviewed 7 students who have experienced emotional eating from the University of Michigan (UM) community.

Several key insights from the survey and research:

  • 57% of people have experienced emotional eating
  • People will be less conscious in decision making and amount control while emotional eating
  • Unhealthy overeating usually comes with regret, shameful and other negative feeling

Possible solutions are mentioned in the research:

  • Social related activities can distract the mood of emotional eating
  • Limit the access< to unhealthy snack
  • Be aware of your emotional eating behavior
  • Be aware of your health goal, such as weight loose, or sugar control


Matthew sometimes eats unconsciously but can always be easily controlled, but Megan is stressed out and severely suffering from emotional eating.

persona 2 persoan 1

So, how to prevent potential emotional eaters from the negative eating behavior? How to help emotional eaters control their emotional eating behavior?



Raise awareness. Distract attention. Encourage healthier choices. Notify and disrupt eating behavior. Reflect.


Selected Design Iterations

Onboarding Experience -- Encourage user input for providing personalized experience.

Iterations on Food Preference Settings

Main Flow -- Persuade emotional eaters gradually with raising awareness, providing personalized recommendations, making contract.

Iterations on Food Preference Settings

Design Details

Face your emotion. Eat well and live well with EatJoy.

Challenge 1

Various factors can impact eating behavior.

Solution: Providing highly personalized suggestions based on user data.

onboarding interfaces

Challenge 2

Emotional eaters might not be aware of their uncontrolled eating behavior and forget their health goals while eating.

Solution: Promoting self-monitoring to raise self-awareness.

Self-monitoring is a technique records one's own activities, thoughts and feelings. It's an effective way to tracking users' eating patterns, and raise their self-awareness like how frequently this happens, what's the amount and time they eat each time, and how their behavior change overtime and finally eliminate the monitored behavior, in this case the emotional eating behavior.

self-monitoring interface

Challenge 3

Trying to prevent emotional eating before it happens.

Solution: Leverage social influence to adjust mood.

Social support can facilitate the health behavior change and the management of chronic conditions. In this case, social support can be both intentional or unintentional. Talking with friends and families about this situation and letting them monitor the behavior control. Or eliminating the craving for food through social interactions.

workout recommendations interfaces

Challenge 4

Emotional eaters are less conscious of food choices.

Solution: Recommend healthier food substitutes which align to emotional eaters' preference.

Studies showed craving for a specific food may indicate mineral deficiency, and there are lots of food swap ideas which can meet eaters' needs. But this harm reduction method is only a temporary solution for emotional eating, since it does not stops the emotional eating but only using healthier food to reduce the harmful results on health.

eat clean recommendations interfaces

Challenge 5

It's hard to stop eating when it starts.

Solution: Making a "contract" before eating and notifying eaters.

Goals improve performance. With a specific goal of the amount and time of eating will facilitate the fulfillment of emotional eating control. And a positive feedback is provided to encourage the behavior with a simple self-reflection to help improve self-regulation ans build up a long term habit.

start eating interfaces

UI Design


Motion Design

Interactive Prototype


A long term test on emotional eaters will be helpful to evaluate and improve the design.

Uncontrolled emotional eating can have a long term impact on people. By manually setting alarm, stocking more healthier food at home, and marking the times I had emotional eating on the calendar the solution sometimes worked for me and sometimes failed. Similarly, for people who have suffered from it, the behavior can be hard to change. A long term test can better understand how user uses the APP when experiencing emotional eating, and how user's behavior change overtime.

Food accessibility is a great influencer of food choice.

The food being stored at home and those do not need extra preparation are more likely to be chose. We considered let users to rate how accessible the food is during onboarding. But this greatly increases the complexity of onboarding and user setting. After a round of user evaluation, we removed this for now. But other more intelligent mechanisms should be involved in the solution to make sure the food we recommended is accessible for users. For example, combing with grocery shopping experience to remind users to buy healthier food.

Re-evaluate the UI of color, font size, icon size and more to meet the AA accessibility standard.