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.
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 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 halfway 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, halfway 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.
7 Mindful Eating Tips
When you are mindful you are fully present, at the moment without judgment. When it comes to eating, mindfulness helps amplify the volume of your body’s cues so you can hear loud and clear when you are hungry and full. Many social and environmental factors can stand in the way of being able to accurately decode your body’s feedback. Mindfulness helps you break free from routine eating habits by examining the thoughts, feelings, and internal pressures that affect how and why you eat (or don’t eat).
Shift out of Autopilot Eating
What did you have for breakfast? Be honest. Many people eat the same thing day in and day out. Notice whether you are stuck in any kind of rut or routine.
Take Mindful Bites
Did you ever eat an entire plate of food and not taste one single bite? Bring all of your senses to the dinner table. Breathe in the aroma of a fresh loaf of bread. Notice the texture of yogurt on your tongue. Truly taste your meal. Experience each bite from start to finish.
Sure, you’re busy and have a lot “on your plate.” It’s hard to make eating a priority rather than an option or side task. If you get the urge for a snack while doing your homework or studying, stop and take a break so that you can give eating 100% of your attention. Try to avoid multitasking while you eat. When you eat, just eat.
Mindfully Check In
How hungry am I on a scale of one to ten? Gauging your hunger level is a little like taking your temperature. Each time you eat, ask yourself, “Am I physically hungry?” Aim to eat until you are satisfied, leaving yourself neither stuffed nor starving.
Observe how critical thoughts like “I don’t want to gain the Freshman Fifteen.” or “I’m so stupid, how could I do that!” can creep into your consciousness. Just because you think these thoughts doesn’t mean you have to act on them or let them sway your emotions. Negative thoughts can trigger overeating or stop you from adequately feeding your hunger.
Remember: A thought is just a thought, not a fact.
Chit-chatting about dieting and fat is so commonplace that we often aren’t truly aware of the impact it might have on our self-esteem. When you are with friends and family, be mindful of your gut reaction to “fat talk” (e.g. “I’m so fat!” or the “I’m so fat; No you’re not” debate). Keep in mind how the words might affect someone struggling with food issues.
Mindful Eating Support
Friends provide an enormous amount of support, but often it’s helpful to obtain assistance or a second opinion from a trained professional. If you would like to learn more about mindful eating, or if you have concerns about your eating habits, call your college counseling center, student health center or consult the NEDA website for information and treatment referrals.