Mindful

BASICS is an acronym for a complete set of guidelines that walks you through the eating process from beginning to end. These are not rules and you don’t need to be perfect at them. However, practicing the BASICS could change the way you eat forever.

B – Breathe and belly check for hunger and satiety before you eat

Take a few deep breaths and relax the body. As you’re doing this, check in with your belly. Are there sensations of physical hunger? How hungry are you? What are you hungry for? You might want food. You might be thirsty. You might be hungry for something entirely different than food. Listen to what your body is telling you. General rule: Eat when you’re hungry; don’t eat when you’re not hungry.

Give yourself permission to stop or to continue based on how hungry you are, not old rules like “you need to clean your plate.”

A – Assess your food

What does it look like? Does it look appealing? What does it smell like? Where does it come from? Is it a food you can recognize, or is it so highly processed you don’t know what it is? Is this the food you really want? As you take your first bite and continue to eat, reassess your food to see if your first impressions were correct and you really want to keep eating.

S – Slow down

Slowing down while you are eating helps you be aware of when the body’s physical hunger is satisfied. Slowing down can also help you enjoy your food more fully.

Simple methods to help you slow down and practice mindful eating include:

  • putting down your fork or spoon between bites
  • pausing and taking a breath between bites, and
  • chewing your food completely.

I – Investigate your hunger throughout the meal, particularly half-way through

To be a mindful eater, it is important to be aware of your distractions and to keep bringing your attention back to eating, tasting, and assessing your hunger and satiety throughout the meal. In particular, half-way through the meal, you may discover you are no longer hungry, or you no longer find the food appealing, even though there is still food on your plate. Give yourself permission to stop or to continue based on how hungry you are, not old rules like “you need to clean your plate.”

C – Chew your food thoroughly

Notice the variety of tastes registered inside your mouth and if you’re enjoying what you’re eating. Notice what happens to the food as you chew. How long does it take to thoroughly chew your food before you swallow it? As you continue to chew and swallow, can you sense hunger beginning to dissipate? Chew each bite thoroughly before you move onto the next.

S – Savor your food

Savoring your food means taking time to choose food that honors your taste buds and your body. Savoring your food happens when you are fully present for the experience of eating and the pleasure that it can bring. If you really like it, experience the joy of savoring.

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Lynn Rossy

Lynn Rossy is a health psychologist and author of The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution. She developed and teaches the empirically-validated 10-week mindful eating program called “Eat for Life.” She is a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher and serves on the The Center for Mindful Eating board.

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