Rosa is a single, working mom raising two kids. She works a restaurant shift job and relies on neighbors to watch her children while they are not in school. She struggles to eat well and feed her children nutritious meals. She sometimes brings home food from the restaurant to feed the family. Her eldest child, Manolo, is in high school where he has access to vending machines and sometimes eats fast food for lunch. Her younger child, Maribel, is 2 years old and is often given soft drinks instead of milk or juice. She has developed a sweet tooth and throws tantrums over food daily.
Ana is a married, working professional with 3 children under 5 years. Her mother, Cecilia, helps to care for the children while Ana is at work. Cecilia is indulgent with the children, letting them eat sweets and snacks before dinner to keep them quiet, and lets them watch many hours of TV. Cecilia is overweight and borderline diabetic. Ana and her husband Carlos are relatively healthy but have family histories of heart disease.
Tony is 20 and moving out on his own for the first time. He is moving far from home and while he ate well while living with his family, his own choices tend towards burgers, pizza and soft drinks over healthier options, especially when he is stressed. He wants to eat better but bad habits have set in.
Healthy Village Features:
- Stage 1 - Awareness. User simply takes notes on eating habits, exercise and emotional states. Includes honest recording of binging, drinking, depression, stress, etc. User is encouraged with each entry with positive feedback, reward points and compassion for harsher feelings and extreme eating behaviors.
- Stage 2 - Food Swapping. Activated whenever user is ready. By this stage the app should be familiar with the users patterns and is able to make tailored recommendations. For example, someone who eats chips or popcorn often might be advised to replace these with grapes. A user with extended depression might be counseled to seek additional help with specific numbers to call. A user with unusual sleep patterns may be given tips on sleep and encourage to set an alarm as a signal to begin a sleep routine. Users with small children can be given advice on getting picky eaters to eat healthier.
- Stage 3 - Exercise. In addition to the advice given in stage 2, Stage 3 will add exercise suggestions like 3 minutes of stretching and dancing, walking a few extra blocks a day. Suggestions will vary based on user’s age, weight, ailments and other limitations. Suggestions can be ramped up to be more demanding at user’s request or as the app sees that the user is getting healthier, stronger.
Wearable Biofeedback Piece (wrist band or necklace) to track heartbeat, steps, sleep, and emotional state (entered by user).
Goal Tracking. App records wearable’s information and allows user to expand on feedback, set goals, and track progress.
Push Notifications. App can gather information wirelessly from multiple wearables to keep track of other family members.
App can send push notifications to remind users to take medication, record meals, or get in steps for the day. App can also be triggered by biofeedback to remind users to be mindful of emotions or breathing (Spire is a good e example of this.)
Wearables can send push notifications to main user in case of extreme biofeedback data such as change heart rate indicating heart trouble.
Manual Inputs. Main user has access to all data and can update information as needed. For example - Child forgets to log in lunchtime meal. Mom can log it in. Main user can log food for all family members at once to record a shared dinner or snack.
Bar Code Reader and Food ID. App and wearables recognize bar codes for easy food logging and recognize a library of non-coded food such as fruits and vegetables. Voice entry also available.
OPTIONAL: Recipes. App can include a link to a Pinterest page of healthy simple recipes or snack ideas.
Quick Successes. Low threshold for success on various stages of program
Emotional Support. App can be programmed and then learn to send prompts to users to handle the emotional component of eating. Users with anger issues may be prompted during the day to take deep breaths or sit quietly with a coping thought. Users with depression may get a prompt before sleep to combat binge eating. Prompts may be coping ideas, or pre-recorded video stories or Siri-like “conversations” with “villagers.” Villagers can be Abuelita who tells stories and reminds user that there are people around who can help (family, friends or professionals.) Village Doctor can give nutritional or psychological advice that some users may find helpful in learning more about specific conditions or nutrition. Village Fool can be a lighthearted character who tells funny stories, silly jokes or can play games with the user for a limited time, while encouraging the user to take care of themselves with real people and activities (to combat screen addiction.)
Users can also log into a message board to connect with other users for advice and support. A live chat feature can also be included.
Reporting. App can give progress reports to users (and main user) on patterns it notices. For example, user may tend to binge more on days of high stress or after days of extended sadness. App can make recommendations for replacing food with “better binge food” while making a longer term plan for dealing with the underlying emotional issues - without judgment.
Low-Income Integration. App may be linked to WIC cards or other low-income programs and offer monetary incentives for choosing fresh produce instead of processed foods.
Pinterest and other Social Media. App can also be linked to Pinterest board with recipes, ideas and encouragement. A visual cue on a sticky site like Pinterest can be very powerful and motivating.
- Consider Disney tie-in for children utilizing “Inside/Out” characters
- Advertise on TV using Latino stars
- Negotiate product placement in Telenovelas - have a character use the app in a story line.
Healthy Village will be designed to help the user understand that good health is a habit that needs practical and emotional encouragement. These can sometimes be hard to find in communities, especially when community often goes hand in hand with celebratory foods such as sweets. The app cannot replace true emotional support but can at least model what support looks like so that users can seek it out in real life. Users should leave each interaction feeling accepted - any entry is a good entry - and supported - small wins are celebrated.