Healthy Snacking / Good or Bad for the new system design?

“Consumer Attitudes Show Positive Change About Healthy Snacking

Ref.: http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2013/consumer-attitudes-positive-snacks/

I was always told by my personal trainer that it is good to have several snacks a day instead of filling myself with different foods during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating 6 times a day in small portions actually stabilises your digestion and helps to prevent overeating during three main meals. Also, being a busy person, I don’t have time to cook for myself or sometimes even buy a meal. Snacking saved me a lot of time and health, it brings a balance to my diet when I’m under pressure or have a lot of work.

During my placement, I looked what other people were eating. As we had only one hour of break each day and not man shops around to buy a full meal (Tesco doesn’t count), most of my co-workers were constantly snacking on something. Two girls were ordering Graze every two weeks to avoid spending extra time on shopping. Others were bringing vegetable and fruit snacks (also salads) from home and were eating them during 5-minute break each hour. Snacking definitely kept the energy flowing during the day.

I would definitely include this tip for women on periods or just as a healthy lifestyle tip. It also breaks our routine at some point which could lead us to new thinking thus new ideas and hopefully positive mood everyday.

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Video Suggestions – Which foods to embrace / avoid during PMS

She looks and sound like a character that would be ideal for describing and suggesting for the system visual language! Making women comfortable with trying something new for them through the video – amazing. I must admit that I felt like drinking tea straight away and feel the warm coming from it. This girl not only says what is better for you but also mentions some warnings and comments on each food/drink. She also uses some references as Asian medicine and other facts which makes me believe that everything she wrote will help me out and feel more comfortable with my body.

Pregnancy Calendar / Emotional and Educational Guide

Interesting idea that makes you aware of how the fetus is developing in women’s body. No nasty scientific stuff, no scary medical language, just mom and her baby. The whole visual language, simple shapes and patterns, black and white theme, simple cut-outs on pages made this book very special and emotionally tied with the owner.

“But it’s the designs that swirl around this pregnant belly that are the true draw for me. Designed by ad agency Dentsu for Kishokai Medical Corporation, a Japanese medical services firm, they’re a playful take on what actually occurs with the fetus during each week of pregnancy. For example, to show when the size of the baby first becomes measurable, there’s a ruler on the side of week 6. In week 15, fingerprints begin to form on the baby, which you can see embossed into the page. A Coriolis effect swirls around week 25, marking when the baby first begins to swim in amniotic fluids. And so on.

Better yet, this beautiful papercraft representation isn’t just some concept: Kishokai Medical Corporation started distributing copies to pregnant mothers in September.”

Ref.: http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2014/11/07/mother-book-a-pregnancy-diary-that-grows-with-the-mothers-belly/

UI/UX Design / Vocabulary

As my project turned out to be a UI/UX design, I have to figure out what visual and verbal languages to use for the system.

After reading many books and guides about the overall health, well-being, I figured out what was missing in most of them. We want to introduce healthy lifestyle and menstrual cycle awareness to women but not limit their lives with forcing dieting and exercising for a certain period of time. We have to use words that would suggest, not limit everything.. introduce and embrace, not force to do something.. avoid, not eliminate or exclude. Use words, that would have associations with common sense and the menstrual cycle and its importance in womens lives.

It should not be viewed as a celebration but as an appreciation and understanding of one’s bodies. Another idea is to let women know that menstrual cycle is not associated with medicine and diseases. Most of the scientific and medical terminology should be avoided for easier understanding. Women should trust the information described and scientific language would only confuse them. Moreover, third language should be used less as we want this

Words I’ve picked for some rules and suggestions:

suggest, avoid, embrace, welcome, care, acknowledge, appreciate, enjoy, value, digest, think, apprehend, harm…

Interesting Articles / Cravings, Hyper-Awareness and Premature Ageing

“Guilt over pre-menstrual carb and chocolate cravings can trigger eating disorders in some women, doctors warn”

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2877299/Guilt-pre-menstrual-chocolate-cravings-trigger-eating-disorders-women-doctors-warn.html

“The new study found cravings for food also correlate with women becoming more preoccupied with their bodies and more aware of their weight and shape.”

It’s interesting that in 21st century we know about our bodies a lot. Even stuff that we do not need, we know thanks to the open online resources. But sometimes this awareness might be a bad influence for some. For example, the trend of the last year was all around the well-being, fitness, being fit and healthy. All the wearable devices, fit apps and other products made a lot of fuss during the year but I’ve never seen these products related to something that would sound or look happy or exciting for a person (really don’t want to put “user” word, it became too techy).

As mentioned in this article: “This hyper-awareness, combined with craving more food, can cause some women to develop symptoms of an eating disorder”. When craving supposed to be something as a natural process of women’s menstrual cycle or pre-pregnancy period, now it is connected to the “fit” concepts.

Good point was raised in this article that I almost forgot about. Sugars and fats. The most beloved craving food is usually chocolate, biscuits, sweets etc. Women have craving as sometimes the levels of sugars and other vitamins gets low during the pre-menstrual period. It is totally fine to have these cravings and eat a bit more that usually but women have to keep in mind that there are different kind of sugars. Some can stabilise your sugar levels but some can not only add more waistline after the menstruation but also cause premature ageing. We have to teach women why craving happens and how to work with it without harming their bodies.

Also read the comments section. I was happy to see that some women realise that their weight goes back to normal after the menstruation. However, some agree that they eat a lot of unhealthy snacks as they do not know or think that healthy food might be less effective than sweets.

“The research, published in the journal Appetite in 2009 found women who no longer had periods still craved chocolate, suggesting it is unlikely to be completely related to changes in hormones.

They concluded chocolate cravings at certain times of the month were probably because women associate chocolate with making them feel better, so they use it to cope with stress or negative emotions.”

It will be a challenge for me. I have to find a new way of introducing alternative foods for period cravings. Chocolate will always be that is associated with happiness and stress-relief but it is not more effective than other natural foods containing natural sugars for stress-relief etc. Making a list of foods that are affordable for most women and are as tasty as chocolate or sweets will be the next step.

Concept Ideas

In last post I went full on interactiveness but probably have to clarify it a bit more now.

The main idea I grasped from Interactive elements is the exchange of information, communication between input and output sources. What happens with most information sources that they don’t have input or output side as there is no information processing or feedback happening at that time. For example, girls have ability to write in forums and chats asking about their menstrual cycles but receive no response or solution for their issue, all they can get is an opinion and story based on the same situation. Or if looking into existing information and tips about menstrual cycle, they do provide you tips but you can not be sure if they are going to be useful for you as they are just general tips for internet users.

So how this input and output methods could be combined? And what exactly is going to form these input and output? I made a small diagram of it:

Input Output

This future design should provide not only explanation of symptoms but make sure they are relevant to the user. The best solution is to include question and answers principle. You would enter your current status and the system would analyse it and give you the best possible solution based on your input. I’ll give an example of 2D solution below:

ARCS model - concept

IRE and Interstellar

I had my IRE evening on Thursday 14th November. I was very excited to meet people from different companies and discuss my concept directions form educating women. I made several boards to show my research and how I would like to change the perception of the menstrual cycle.

IRE Evening-01

I’ve also made a board with some examples of negative message that is usually sent across media. It worked as a great starting point of conversation, people found it funny and paid more attention to my speech.

But unfortunately, all feedback provided during the evening was not as useful as I expected. I spoke to one woman and 5 men during the evening (without counting design students). I am not even sure if they were assigned to look at my project, only one person came to me who had to see me. It was ……. from Integrity, she graduated Brunel several years ago. I haven’t received much of ideas from her but she was genuinely interested in my project.

Other people I spoke to were or lighting engineers or just managers, no one from very creative field (that I was mostly hoping for). They were interested in the project but never really talked about it. Believe it or not, all of them changed conversation to “Where are you from? Are you from Russia?”. This tell me that men in their 30’s 40’s 50’s are not very eager to discuss this stigmatised topic, it will always stay like this for them.

This gave me a direction for my project, make it available strictly for women. Also, after talking to students about their relationships, I realised that men mostly obeyed women when it comes to menstrual cycles. There is definitely an issue I could solve but I think the challenge there would be to make men talk which is another issue.

Another point from this evening is to actually decide if I want to educate women or raise an awareness about education. I think as a Product/Graphic/Creative Designer, my responsibility here is to provide a simple yet detailed education tool for women and possibly teenagers about their bodies. Raising an awareness sounds like a job for an artist or salesman (which I am at some point but it is not my profession). Plus, if women will find this tool very useful for themselves, they will definitely share it with their friends/family/coworkers. Making another art piece will not make my major project more valuable. The way I will provide information will.

There is one last question to answer: concept direction. As I mentioned previously, people from IRE evenng did not give me any suggestions on how I can achieve what I want to achieve. So I had to look for inspiration in different places. Idea came after Graphic Design Lecture on arranging information. There was an example of a holographic globe that showed live information about earthquakes and daylight. Something similar I saw in Science Museum:

Ref.: Science Museum Holographic Globe, 2011, Jay Smith [image] Available at <https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6042/6343983758_ab898da578_z.jpg&gt; (accessed 17 November 2014)

This gave me an idea of looking into Interactive Design solutions. This makes information to look not only interesting but also provide knowledge about the topic you’re trying to promote. This could be a great mix of raising an awareness and educating women.

My next step would be to look into interactive designs and their purpose and come up with concept direction. The one’s I looked at already are packaging designs and 3D installations.

Ref.: See Yourself on The Inside, n.d, Exploratorium [image] Available at <http://exs.exploratorium.edu/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/See-Yourself-On-The-Inside-200×300.jpg&gt; (accessed 17 November 2014)

Findings – Week 8

Found a very interesting article ( http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shameless-woman/201101/the-importance-listening-our-menstrual-cycle) talking about the appreciation of our monthly cycle and why we should be educated about it. As it was mentioned, women almost forgot that menstrual cycles are associated with pregnancy and reproduction (which is the main purpose of all this process). They see it as an event that just has to happen every month and interrupt in our lives. It is NOT VALUABLE as it was before: different campaignS show it as a joke or a fun thing to discuss but never added a true value to it. Here what was written:

“They were excused from their daily tasks so that they could the work that could only happen during this time of bleeding. In contrast – in today’s culture – it is frowned on to take “Time off” to take care of ourselves during this time.There is no honoring of this time – instead it is seen as an inconvenience.”

A lot of videos and online sources recommend switching to alternative treatments for womens symptoms occuring during the cycle but never explain why they should do it (and why make such a huge effort and spend a lot of time instead of getting a relief with ibuprofen/paracetamol/heat pad). There is that awareness bit missing and I should find a way to combine it.

Found a very inspirational post about menstruation. It’s not really about the facts she describes there but the way she describes the menstruation itself. She writes that “female body is a gift”, “body is a magic of creation”. When reading this, I felt much better about myself, make me feel as I am a part of a special world ritual, that something in me is so individual and spiritual that can be only felt during the menstruation.

Here it is: http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/whymenstruation.html

Another interesting project to review was made by Daizi Zheng. ( http://www.daizizheng.com/projects1.htm )

Designer played around the packaging to make people feel more connected to healthy foods that are usually avoided in daily nutrition. This unique packaging design might change the availability of healthy food on the market and make people reconsider their choice of foods.

This is a very interesting concept and could be closely linked to my project. I can imagine that designing something completely innovative will only confuse people, they need to have a connection/ link to a product description or purpose. This packaging has a similar language to existing junk food packaging and draws great attention to it. But the product inside makes people rethink what they are eating.

http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/06/13/the-warmth-of-a-hug/

A product concept found on Yanko Design website. Not quite a direction I am going but I had this concept in my head before. Heat and light therapy can provide a relaxation for women suffering from PMS or menstrual symptoms however I can not see how the concept exactly works here.

http://productsofdesign.sva.edu/cycla-necklace-by-julia-plevin/

A necklace that allows you to track your cycle even when you are outside and around other people. Very neat and fashionable approach but it doesn’t provide any educational information.

Question: how much information I want to provide in my product? Maybe I don’t need to provide it at all?

Try raising interest of women to look up for other information?

I received a lot of feedback on my questionnaire, a lot of girls said that it was an interesting one, it made sense for them. Just the fact that I have provided questions, it made them to think about it and provide feedback. Could it be a possible approach to women?

Survey Design and Conclusion

Two design surveys for women and men were designed to identify different issues related to the female menstrual cycle

Women

The purpose of this questionnaire is to get a rough idea of women’s perception of their menstrual cycles in different stages. Some of these questions will question
Q1
Q1
Most of the respondents are from 21 to 25 years old. Second most popular group is from 26 to 30 years old. We can assume
Q2
Q2

Most of respondents do not have a period&ovulation calendar but are willing of creating one. We can assume from this that women want to be conscious of their menstrual cycle and able to predict their behavior and symptoms for upcoming cycles. They accept the importance of it but are not not sure how they can use this information for themselves. The menstrual cycle tracker doesn’t analyse your information and doesn’t give you information based on results. Without a help of professional, women do not understand the importance of collected data. No educational materials are provided for them for free.
Q3
 Q3
The intend of this question was to identify the impact of menstruation on womens’ lives.  We also wanted to see the amount of negative and positive answers appearing throughout the question.
Only 11% admitted that they somehow enjoy their periods, while strong majority admit it as something they just have to deal with (85% agrees). Majority of women feel that men have an advantage of not experiencing menstruation. However, women are not ashamed of their menstruation – they admitted that they  have no need to hide their purchases or the fact that they’ve got period. Only 13% said that they are embarrassed to purchase pads or tampons, which shows that it is a major inconvenience for most women. Same as talking about their periods is not a massive issue, only-third (30%) said they prefer not to talk openly about their periods. Rather, women are mostly concerned by the impact it has on their lives.
Q4
Q4
This question was built to check how well women are educated on menstrual cycle based topics.
Most of women have answered correctly on most of the questions. However, there was a small percent of women who assumed that pain during menstruation is not natural and stress and nutrition has nothing to do with PMS symptoms and length of menstruation. Interestingly, in the last part women were uncertain about whether hormones cause menstrual cramps. Women have a fair understanding of psychological facts of the cycle but not sure how body works during luteal or follicular phases.
(Question here: WHY women need to know it?)
Q5
Q5
Her we will clarify how women perceive their periods – whether it’s more positive or negative.
Responses showed that the majority (67%) would prefer having periods frequently but almost third preferred not to have periods at all. Most of women somewhat understand the nature of menstrual cycle and prefer having periods even if they were once a month. The fact that almost a third wanted to get rid of their periods shows negative attitude to their bodies and … during the cycle.
Q6
Q6
Here we tried to look at different habits women have during menstrual cycle. It includes looking at their food, medicine and activities preference.
Most of women are not even considering of consuming less sweets or salty snacks before period starts. (They admitted of having food cravings as a natural process but do they know it is not good for their bodies and period?) 70 percent of respondents stated that they eat snacks as a distraction from their bad moods. Respondents also admitted that exercising before their periods is not included in their routine where almost half doesn’t even consider any activities as a must. (consider that there may be sports women too)
Women prefer to get instant relief from their symptoms by taking some kind of medicine. Only 12% admitted they never use drugs for period pains.
Q7 Q8
Q7-8
This part shows the most experiences symptoms before menstrution (luteal phase)
Moodiness, irritability, stress and cravings ere the most popular choice amongst other physical and mental symptoms appearing before menstruation. These symptoms mainly are connected to mental state of a woman. Cravings can be considered a consequence of having constant stress. Even when comparing severity of symptoms, mental have a greater advantage over physical ones. During period, physical symptoms such as abdominal cramps, fatigue, food craving had priority over mood related problems.
Q9
Q9
Here we are reviewing the affection of menstrual cycle in relationships and getting more personal insight into different issues. Women had an option to skip this question if they do not have an experience in having a relationship. More than a third skipped this question (65 vs. 35)
Women agree that men have to know their behavior patterns during menstrual cycle and less about their menstruation flow.
Women are also unsure what their SO’s think of their menstrual cycles – whether it is positive or negative point of view. This could point out the unwillingness and uncertainty if women should trust sharing info about their menstrual cycles.
Women don’t feel a special need of sharing their menstrual cycles with men but do feel a need of their presence to control menstrual mood swings.
They also admit that keeping distance in this period is not the best decision. Men would act as a distraction from their symptoms. Women are seeking for a trusting person who could share feelings with them and keep their minds occupied with other things
Conclusion
Women are concerned about their health but have no trustful source of information available when they are not attending GP. Women are interested in learning more about the origin of their abnormal behaviour and other symptoms, they want to know how their bodies work during the period.
Some women admitted that even if they don’t need that information now, they will definitely find it useful in future.
Men