An app which helps teenagers (and their parents) with chronic heart diseases to take responsibility for their own health ánd their lunchboxes.

For children with a chronic heart disease, it’s all about finding a balance between following your treatment plan and living a normal teenage lifestyle. But, how do you enjoy yourself ánd follow a healthy diet? If you’re a parent, you might face a different challenge altogether. Like, how can you become the supporter in your child’s life, instead of only feeling like the caregiver. That is why we introduce: ChefPrep. An app which helps teenagers to take responsibility for their own health ánd their lunchboxes.

This project took place within the squad Inclusive Design and Thoughtful Technology (ID&TT) of the Technical University Eindhoven (TU/e), focusing on supporting teenagers’ nutritional intake to reduce the risks for cardiac diseases. Children with chronic diseases have a higher chance of developing cardiac issues when growing up due to a multitude of factors, such as insufficient movement and sensitivity to unhealthy diets. Therefore, together with the Wageningen University (WUR), University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), and TU/e, a project was initiated to research and develop a solution for improving long-term adherence to a healthy diet and lifestyle for adolescence with chronical cardiac diseases.

ChefPrep is an app that supports teenagers in building healthy habits around dealing with breakfast and lunch in a fun and encouraging way. The adolescence period is the stage in life in which individuals begin to develop autonomy, fundamental in the development of longer-term eating habits that may be reflected in adulthood. The app encourages the user to discover, plan, communicate and improve. ChefPrep contains many recipes for breakfast and lunch -specially selected for a heart-healthy diet and a teenage lifestyle- which enable the user to discover new and healthy recipes to make and bring to school. The concept and prototype were developed with a highly theoretical and user-centered design approach, involving vast quantities of experts, stakeholders, and partners. Methods used to develop the concept are based on the double diamond and the Spiral SDLC Model. With the help of persuasive design, elements were designed for the app to encourage healthy habit building. ChefPrep offers families a framework to support and build healthy habits so that in the end, life can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Try out the final app prototype

Kid version:
Parent version:

About ChefPrep

Origin and Context

This project has been carried out, orginiting from the alliance project, to support children with chronic heart disease in their habits around the nutritional intake. The project focused on the target group of children aged 12 to 18 with chronic diseases, which are more likely to develop heart problems as they mature into adults. We learned that children are prone to unhealthy eating behaviour, as habits are formed during the teenage years. Therefore, we expect that supporting healthy habits will positively impact their lifestyle for the long term.

We refined the scope of this project to: how to encourage proper preparation of breakfast and lunch during a school day to prevent unhealthy behaviour? This was further explored and underlined by experts and literature. Due to maturing, brain development, sensitivity for rewards, strive for independence, and influences of adolescents’ environment, we believe that creating self-management and autonomy are the most significant factors in their learning curve. ChefPrep was created to balance all these factors and help and encourage adolescents to build healthy habits around breakfast and lunch. It allows teens to plan meals, learn new recipes, and encourages communication with friends and family.

Mockup with screens from ChefPrep

ChefPrep has three main functionalities: the food planner, recipes, and groceries. There are seven different categories (home or landings page, community, food, progress, financial, profile, and motivational factors) that combined support these three main functions. All these categories support the growth curve of teens.

The food planner provides a tool where meals can be efficiently planned. As a result, the user gets familiar with planning their meals beforehand and is learning this healthy eating habit. Moreover, it encourages adolescents not only to eat healthily, but also to break the unhealthy habit of throwing away food and buying unhealthy lunches during the school day. By searching for tasty recipes and saving them as favourites, preferences can be passed on. The recipes feature includes different indicators to learn what healthy eating is without understanding complex numbers. On a scale from one to ten, the nutritional specifications are indicated and understandable. This is also the case for groceries, where euro signs indicate the average prices. In the grocery list, ingredients can easily be added from the recipes. In this way, communication between parent and child is accessible, and make sure that everything needed will be at home, regardless of who does the shopping. The community channel in the app allows the teens to share their favourite recipes and browse family and friends’ favourites. For the parents, there is a parent mode that helps parents find a balance to support their children by setting goals, but it also helps to let go and not be overprotective. It allows parents to give positive feedback to their teens and prevent their children to negatively associate rewards with food. Working together towards building healthy eating habits allows teens to grow and become independent.

Mockup with screens from ChefPrep

ChefPrep is thus an app that supports teenagers in building healthy habits with breakfast and lunch in a fun and encouraging way. It enables teenagers to plan meals, learn new recipes, and encourages communication with friends and family. Besides that, it also allows the parent to track development and low-key monitoring without compromising on the fun elements of food preparation, which eases the transition towards autonomy and selfdependence— reducing the risk of developing unhealthy eating habits. In short, ChefPrep helps prepare the chefs of tomorrow!

Project scope


Adolescents with chronic cardiac diseases are often in need of changing their nutrient intake for preserving a healthier life (CDC, n.d.) Brain studies show the frontal lobe - which is responsible for decision-making, impulse control, sensation-seeking, emotional responses, and consequential thinking - does not finish developing until our early-to-mid 20s. (McKeown et al., 2019).

These brain developments make it difficult to make sensible choices about their health, which can result in risky/unhealthy life choices. This can make them tend to skip meals -such as breakfast- which result in more snacking. (Savige et al., 2007) However, these snacks are often ultra-processed, which are directly contradicting their dietary needs. this results in adolescents do not get the right nutrients, namely: too little fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to too much (saturated) fat, salt, and sugars. This can lead to a worsening of their disease course and/or symptoms (Srour et al., 2019; Heart, 2020) and can lead to the development of habits on an unhealthy diet that can persist into their adult life. (ScienceDaily, n.d.).

Poor adherence to treatment is commonly viewed by doctors and parents as risky behaviour in adolescents with chronic illness (Sawyer et al., 2005). Although adolescents are striving to gain independence, the family retains a potential influence on the physical and social environment on an adolescent life (Woodruff et al., 2008). Some adolescents with chronical diseases feel that this reliance on parents was undesirable as it could limit an adolescent person’s capacity to care for themselves, especially in the absence of the parents (Tye et al., 2021).

Target Group

The target group for this design project are young adolescents with chronic heart disease, between the ages of 12 and 18, who are in secondary school. The target group in our research is mainly Dutch focused due to the large differences in habit and culture regarding food (intake). In addition, this is also due to the available group on which we can (user)test, which mainly originate from the Netherlands.

Main Challenge

The main Challenge of our project was improving long-term adherence to a healthy diet and lifestyle for adolescence (aged 12 – 18) with chronical cardiac diseases.


Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
Wageningen Universiteit
UMC Utrecht

Creative skills

Design Thinking, (Design) Research, Multidisciplinary teamwork, Concepting, User Testing, Prototyping, UX- & UI design

Software skills

Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Miro, Microsoft Office


Bente Derksen, Ellen de Ridder, Joris Raaphorst