Posts tagged “diet”

Noël’s War Story: Truck Stop

Noël Bankston is a UX Research Lead and Human Factors Engineer at Zebra Technologies, currently living in Queens, NY. She told this story live at the Interaction 17 conference.

“So Jim, what would you like to do for lunch? “My treat!” It was the moment I had been dreading all day, ironic since I am a lover of food. I was trying to sound chipper but I was worn through.

It was 2 pm and I was starving. I was sitting in the cab of a 48’ tractor trailer in Lowell, Arkansas. This was my first “ride along” research trip and I had not come prepared with snacks. I was doing in-depth generative research of the pick-up and delivery process for a freight company and hadn’t known that we don’t have lunch until all the deliveries were completed.

I was also not prepared for the weather as I am from up north and I thought the South would be hot in late May. It wasn’t – it was a constant drizzle and cold. So I was sitting in the cab feeling small and tired in the oversized loaner jacket that the dispatcher had given me. We had been on the road since 8:45 am but I had arrived at the trailer dispatch site even earlier to observe the set-up process. And that should have been fine, because on a normal day, Jim finishes around noon. But today we saw all the exceptions – an unprepared customer, incorrect paperwork, an obstructed delivery dock, and poor routing. As a researcher, it was a gold-mine as I observed where problems occurred and how Jim handled them. But as someone who is mildly hypoglycemic, it meant I was getting hangry. It had been a long morning of climbing into and out of that cab, learning which hand to place where to get the right leverage to pull yourself up as you step onto the step that is only wide enough for half your foot. And I don’t know how many of you have ridden inside of a tractor trailer but it is loud and you feel every bump.

In that moment as I asked about lunch, damp, tired, and hungry, I thought back on the the anxiety I had felt earlier in the day about lunch. A co-worker told me that on his previous ride-along they had eaten a burger from a gas station mini-mart. Even on a normal day that would make me uneasy, as gas stations aren’t known for freshness and hygiene. I knew that this type of research means being available for wherever the subject takes you, but I was really hoping that didn’t include food poisoning.

But at this point, 8 hours from my previous meal and having no idea what part of town we were in, who was I to be picky?

“So Jim, what would you like to do for lunch?”

“I just want a salad. I try to eat healthy.” I gave a huge sigh of relief, accompanied by a rumble of rejoicing from my stomach. It seemed that between the two of us, I would be eating the bigger meal. I found a nearby Mexican restaurant on Yelp. While enjoying the flavor combination of fresh cilantro and lime with nary a fryolator in sight, I realized how I had been making assumptions about “truckers” based on stereotypes rather than letting the research reveal the truth. And those assumptions were also judgments about health and lifestyle. Jim was aware of the health effects of his job and wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to have a healthful meal, especially when a researcher was paying! One of the reasons truckers eat unhealthy food is both cost and convenience. Truck stops get food fast and are less expensive. Unfortunately, our food system is set up in a way that fresh, whole food costs much more than highly processed, industrially produced food.

I won’t be able to eliminate all my biases or preconceived notions but I can grow in my awareness of them. I have been on many more ride-alongs and other types of research trips since then. You better believe I always have a granola bar with me.

Gender Bender

What do diet soda, strollers, and pink have in common? (hint: not women)

Dr Pepper Ten: Because Men Don’t Drink Diet Soda? [huffingtonpost.com] A new diet soft drink is out and “It’s not for women”. In explicitly marketing the dudeness of the drink, including a definitive guide to social protocol for men known as the Dr Pepper 10 Man’Ments, the ad campagin has apparently been effective at getting both men and women to give it a try.

A Facebook page for the drink contains an application that allows it to exclude women from viewing content, which includes games and videos aimed at being “manly.” For instance, there’s a shooting gallery where you shoot things like high heels and lipstick, for example. There is also a “man quiz” with questions on activities like fishing and hunting. “One topic people never tire of talking or arguing about is differences between men and women, particularly if women are excluded,” said Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. “That will always get someone’s attention.”

How To Design “Manly” Household Products For The Involved Dad [fastcodesign.com] ‘More Work for Mother’ comes full circle as designers focus on the domestic dad.

When out in public, even the most rational dad might shun parenting products that make him feel less “manly.” For instance, my friend Chris is a tough-on-the-outside social worker by day, but he also stays at home part-time with his daughter, Sarah. Every time he goes to daycare, the park, or play dates, he has a routine of emptying the entire contents of his wife’s handbag-like diaper bag into his own duffel. “One topic people never tire of talking or arguing about is differences between men and women, particularly if women are excluded,” said Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. “That will always get someone’s attention.”

Defend Your Research: The Color Pink Is Bad for Fighting Breast Cancer [harvardbusinessreview] Gendered approaches to marketing and branding may actually have the opposite effect desired, aka rejecting the hypothesis of “So long as it’s pink-”

The finding: Seeing the color pink makes women less likely to think they’ll get breast cancer and less likely to donate to cancer research… In psychology, there’s a lot of literature on defensive responses. How do we deal with threatening ideas, with things that are existentially difficult to comprehend? What happens is, these set off very strong denial mechanisms. By adding all this pink, by asking women to think about gender, you’re triggering that. You’re raising the idea that this is a female thing. It’s pink; it’s for you. You could die. The cues themselves aren’t threatening-it’s just a color! But it connects who you are to the threats

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Design by Use and object repurposing [Pasta&Vinegar] – [Nicolas Nova's written a nicely condensed post on Uta Brandes, Sonja Stich and Miriam Wender's book Design by Use: The Everyday Metamorphosis of Things. (Object re-use and re-purposing is a subject dear to our own hearts – see http://www.portigal.com/blog/new-uses-for-old-tools/ and http://www.portigal.com/blog/from-pain-points-to-opportunity-areas/ ) ] Among other sources, Nova quotes Metropolis: "The British sculptor Richard Wentworth once said, I find cigarette packets folded up under table legs more monumental than a Henry Moore. Five reasons. Firstly, the scale. Secondly, the fingertip manipulation. Thirdly, modesty of both gesture and material. Fourth, its absurdity and fifth, the fact that it works.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Shoppers on a ‘Diet’ Tame the Urge to Buy [NYTimes.com] – [Thanks to @gretared] This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less (sixitemsorless.com). The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment. An even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. (Again, undies don’t count.) Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers’ spending habits.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Autom, a weight-loss robot coach – Autom's human qualities, if primitive, were an important factor in keeping 15 dieters motivated during a trial in the Boston area. Another 15 slimmers were given a computer with a touch screen running identical software to Autom's and 15 had a paper log. Each had to stick to a certain eating and exercise regime. The average time someone used the robot — almost 51 days — was nearly twice as long as with paper — almost 27 days — and 40 percent longer than with the computer. "Even if you have an animated character that looks exactly like Autom on the computer screen, you cannot have the same interaction as you can with an actual robot," Kidd says. Kidd says the fact that people were able to humanise Autom made the information it gave them seem more credible. Maya, Casper and Robbie were among the names users gave their robots. Some even dressed them in hats and scarves.
  • We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat [CBC News] – Companies working off Nova Scotia's coasts have been told to supersize their lifeboats to accommodate bigger workers. The current standard for lifeboats is based on a person weighing 165 pounds in a survival suit. The proposed standard is 220 pounds. "The reality is such that the workforce is considerably larger nowadays," said Dave Scratch, the regulator's chief safety officer. A lifeboat may be rated for 50 people, but that doesn't mean they all fit. "We've had a number of [exercises and drills] where they actually wouldn't. We found that most lifeboats had to be downsized just because people were larger and wouldn't fit in the allocated locations," said Scratch. The board is following the lead of the U.K., which adjusted safety regulations after a study found offshore workers are heavier now than 20 years ago.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • UX guy complains about AA.com being crap and UX guy from AA.com responds – UX guy reprints email and then attempts to address corporate culture issue; strong opinions follow but most compelling part is the insight from the AA.com UX guy himself (known as Mr. X)

    "But—and I guess here’s the thing I most wanted to get across—simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours to put together a really good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small, just-get-it-done organizations. But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome, and not many, I’ll bet, are jumping on this same bandwagon. They know what it’s like."

  • Health management goes for ethnic marketing/customization: Asians and diabetes – Rice is a carbohydrate that is particularly unhealthy in large quantities for people with diabetes. That's why doctors and other health care providers are increasingly trying to develop culturally sensitive ways to treat Asians with diabetes – programs that take into account Asian diets, exercise preferences and even personality traits. "Diabetes is primarily a self-managed disease, and you have to try multiple approaches with different patients. But many of those are not culturally appropriate for Asians."

Q&A on Mickey D’s and Me on National Review Online

A new film, Me & Mickey D, is by a filmmaker who ate at McDonald’s for 30 days and lost weight.

NRO: Would you recommend anyone eat McDonald’s for 30 days?

Whaley: Actually I think a lot of people do, at least for a few meals a week. Tens of millions of people eat there every day without ill effect. As for a 30-day diet to lose weight? That’s up to the individual. This was not intended to promote a McDonald’s diet for losing weight, it was meant to demonstrate that some of our current belief systems are incorrect.

NRO: Besides the obvious, Super-Size-Me-is-wrong/be responsible/McDonald’s-can’t-make-you-fat,-only-the- choices-you-make-can message, what is the overall point of your documentary?

Whaley: Simply to encourage people to take more responsibility for their own lives and to appreciate the concept of freedom of choice that we have in the U.S. I also hope to inspire people to get out and move around more. Forget about ‘exercising,’ just get out there and celebrate your life by staying busy and productive. ‘Eat to live, don’t live to eat.’ – Moliere

Self-reporting gone a bit too far

Here is a blog from someone that went from a vegan diet to a highly artificial diet. For a period of time, supposedly ending in April they ate all sorts of crap and logged it, and their general health and other thoughts. I dare you to look at the pictures they took of their stool. Yes, poop.

Gross.

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