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Investigating Preferred Food Description Practices in Digital Food Journaling


Journaling of consumed foods through digital devices is a popular self-tracking strategy for weight loss and eating mindfulness. Research has explored modalities, like photos and open-ended text and voice descriptions, to make journaling less burdensome and more descriptive than traditional barcode and database searches. However, less is known about how people prefer to journal foods when less constrained by limitations of databases, natural language processing, and image recognition. We deployed a food journal prototype supporting varied devices and input modalities, which 15 participants used to journal 1008 food logs over two weeks. Participants had diverse strategies for indicating what and how much they ate, varying from ambiguous foods to specifying varieties and using different measurements for clarifying amount. Some strategies were interpretable by natural language food identification and image classification services, while others point to open research questions. We finally discuss opportunities for accounting for variance in food journaling.

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