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All human beings eat food, but not always with the same intention. For many people food can bring a feeling of comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, some people turn to food in an attempt to heal emotional problems. The term ‘emotional eating’ has been defined as eating in response to emotional cues, often as a coping response to negative emotions like stress, boredom, loneliness, chronic anger and anxiety, frustration, and so on. Emotional eating behavior can affect the overall healthiness of a person in both the short and the long term. If untreated, it may lead to food addictions and obesity.

In this project we will analyze the abilities, concerns, feelings, practices and interactions of emotional eaters, within their specified situation and context. Insights from these analyses will enable us to develop new interaction scenarios, helping emotional eaters to re-frame their unhealthy relationship with food.

The aim of this project is to transform current mindless and impulsive eating practice into an experience that cultivates awareness and appreciation of food. We see two ways to achieve the same goal. First, we could help emotional eaters to engage in healthier emotion regulation strategies by providing them with guidance and increasing their motivation. Second, we could assist them to develop mindful eating habits through tangible and digital interventions. Both approaches will be conceptualized and evaluated in the project.

Project coaches: Rick Schifferstein and Natalia Romero Herrera