Here are the BASICS of Mindful Eating. These are guidelines (not rules) to help you become conscious about how, what, when and why you eat. Follow them as best you can and as often as you can, knowing that there will be times when it will be next to impossible to eat this way.
However, there will be lots of opportunities for you to practice (we eat everyday!). Let these BASICS guide you to a way of eating that pleases your taste buds and supports your body’s health. Play with taking one BASIC a week and letting it guide how you eat. For a video of the BASICS, please click here Basics of Mindful Eating
BASICS of Mindful Eating
Breathe and Belly Check for hunger and satiety before you eat.
Assess your Food
Investigate your hunger and satiety throughout the meal
Chew Your Food Thoroughly
Savor Your Food
B – Breathe and Belly Check for hunger and satiety before you eat.
First of all, take a few deep breaths as you begin to check in with your belly. Are there sensations of physical hunger? How hungry are you?What are you hungry for? Is there a particular type of food you’d like to have? You might want food. You might be thirsty. You might be hungry for something entirely different than food (eg. walking, stretching, more deep breaths). Listen to what your body is telling you. General rule: eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not hungry. Find out what your body is telling you by breathing and doing a belly check.
A – Assess your Food
What does it look like? Notice the colors of the food. Does it look appealing? What does it smell like? Where does it come from? Is it a food you can recognize (e.g. natural and unprocessed) or is it a food-like substance (e.g. so processed you don’t know where it comes from)? Ask yourself if this is the food you really want. You don’t have to take a lot of time with this. A brief pause to assess your food can give you lots of information about it.
S – Slow Down
Slowing down while you are eating can help you enjoy your food more fully. Slowing down also helps you be aware of when you’re getting full and to notice when the body has had enough. 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
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. It is particularly useful to stop half-way through your meal and take a moment to check in with your belly. You may dscover that you’re no longer hungry even though there’s food on your plate or you may discover you don’t even like the food you’re eating. Give yourself permission to stop or to continue based on how hungry you are, not old rules like “you need to clean your plate.”
Chewing your food thoroughly help you to slow down and your body to digest the nutrients from your food more efficiently. As a result, you will have time to really taste your food and be tuned into the signals that your hunger is dissipating. The sooner you are aware of satiety, the less likely it will be that you will over-eat.
S – Savor Your Food
Savoring your food means taking time to choose food you really like and food that would satisfy you right now. To truly savor your food, you choose food that honors your taste buds and your body.
Become fully present for the experience of eating and the pleasure that it can bring. Let all of your attention be on the complete range of sensations available in each bite and feel the joy. If you can’t savor it, why eat it?