I (Maia) struggled with bulimia nervosa for quite a few years of my life. I am currently recovering from my eating disorder, but could not have imagined how difficult it was to rewire my brain back into what it used to be. Relapses were inevitable, and it was hard to properly keep track of whether I was actually trying to recover sometimes. I feel as though people with and those recovering from eating disorders are neglected and not understood by many as a serious mental illness with the highest potential to kill of any other mental illness. Because of this, my boyfriend (Varun) and I decided to work on something that meant a lot to the both of us: me recovering from my ED and he helping me on the way to getting healthy again.
What it does
The app keeps track of meals consumed throughout the day, how much water one has drank, alarms to remind the user of the next time they should eat, a calendar the user can reference to look back on previous eating patterns, and a resources page with various associations and recovery groups the user can reference whenever they feel the need during the recovery process.
How we built it
We used the Android Studio IDE to build our project in Kotlin. We also used Firebase as our database to store information inputted by the user.
Challenges we ran into
The part that took us the longest was figuring out the alarm functionality and how to properly implement an alarm without tearing our hair out. It was a lot of shifting around code and debugging various lines in order to get it to function properly. We are also both very UI challenged, so figuring out how to implement a pretty front-end was very difficult for the two of us.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of implementing an interface to Firebase, as neither of us have worked with it before. This is also the first major project we have both worked on, and building the app from the ground-up was an instructive experience.
For me (Maia) in particular, it felt great to build something to give back to the eating disordered community that I once heavily associated with. I feel as though they do not get enough awareness as a mental illness and can people can be very ignorant towards the struggle that we deal with. It isn't just about wanting to be "skinny"; instead, reasons for this mental illness vary from person to person and their individual experiences.
What we learned
We learned that it's certainly not easy building an app. Even some of the simplest seeming features are actually incredibly difficult to implement. For the two of us, Kotlin was a new programming language that we had to navigate. Learning the intricacies of the language and it's difference from Java was an educational but sometimes frustrating experience. Coming out of it, however, we have learned to appreciate its idiosyncrasies. The second thing that managed to be significantly more intuitive than the rest of development was Firebase. Going into this project we knew nothing about Firebase, but coming out of it we now appreciate how efficient writing code to interface with the database was.
What's next for EDApp
We want to continue with this project and polish some of its features, such as linking some of the resources to actual websites.
Another feature I wanted to add but had to omit due to time constraints was the option of the user to keep a journal in order to record their thoughts and feelings throughout the recovery process. In order to experience using new technologies, we wanted to be able to use a speech to text API to save the user the time and energy it would take to write out longer entries. Of course, the option to type out their entries would still be there, but it would have been interesting to get some experience with and incorporate machine learning into our project.