MyMeal: an interactive user-tailored meal visualization tool for teenagers battling eating disorders


and feel comfortable with what constitutes a so-called normalsize meal. One example of a visual aid available to registered dietitians and familiar to many Canadians is Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Living (see Figure 1) [1], similar to the well-recognized American Food Pyramid (see Figure 2) [2]. This color-coded handout displays the major food groups, examples of foods found in each group, recommended daily servings, and examples of what constitutes a serving: For example, one slice of bread is equivalent to one serving from the grain-products food group. For foods with undefined shapes, imperial and metric measurements are provided: For example, one cup or 250 mL of milk is equivalent to one serving from the milk-products food group. Although both the Canadian and American food guides provide an overview of which foods should be included in a healthy diet, the relative sizes Chelsea is a 13-year-old adolescent who was diagnosed one year ago with anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. To meet her under any circumstance that did not involve food, you probably wouldn’t guess that she had an eating disorder (ED). But when you ask her about her feelings toward eating, food, and meal planning, her anxieties are evident. She finds planning a meal extremely difficult, particularly when incorporating healthy quantities of “stressful” foods like carbohydrates and fats into a meal. She relies on her parents to plan her meals and uses measuring cups to determine true portion sizes, because through her eyes, everything looks like too much food. Nutrition counseling can help adolescents like Chelsea, who are recovering from EDs, to improve their understanding of how to plan balanced meals. Food guides and sample menus are available for teaching teenagers about healthy portion sizes, but none provides a visual reference about what a healthy and balanced meal, as well as a proper portion, should look like. Since patients with EDs have demonstrably abnormal perceptions of the size of food, a meal-visualization tool could help patients with EDs feel more comfortable about portions by helping them understand what appropriate food portions look like in the context of a balanced meal.

DOI: 10.1145/1699775.1699789

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@article{Ballance2010MyMealAI, title={MyMeal: an interactive user-tailored meal visualization tool for teenagers battling eating disorders}, author={Desmond Ballance and Jodie Jenkinson}, journal={Interactions}, year={2010}, volume={17}, pages={60-63} }