Mindfulness is a term that has been gaining recent popularity in health and wellness fields but what does it mean?
Simply put, being Mindful is being present. Practicing Mindfulness helps you to be aware of your present environment, feelings, thoughts and sensations. When we eat mindfully we are being conscious of the present meal - and how the body feels during, before and after your meal. I hope you enjoy this 6 Step Practice in Mindful Eating!
BASICS is an acronym for a Mindful Eating Practice that walks you through the eating process. 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 and what are you hungry for? Are you currently experiencing a High or Low Blood Sugar Level? Is this effecting your sense of hunger? You might want a meal or may need a bit of a sugar boost. You might be thirsty. Listen to what your body is telling you. General rule: Eat when you’re hungry for a meal; don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
Give yourself permission to stop or to continue based on how hungry you are and how much nutrients, carbs or sugar you need, not old rules like “you need to clean your plate.”
A – Assess your food
What does it look and smell like? Does it look appealing? 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 or are you reacting to a craving? 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. If you're reacting to a high or low, take your time and create portions that make sense for your blood sugar.
S – Slow down
Slowing down while you are eating helps you be aware of when the body’s physical hunger is satisfied and if you've had enough of whatever it was you were craving. Slowing down can also help you enjoy your food 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
- 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 registering inside your mouth and if you’re enjoying what you’re eating. 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.
What are you really hungry for? Is it a sugar boost, happiness, or something else? If you find yourself eating without thinking, because you feel bored or sad, or simply because you’ve had a hard day, indulging here and there is understandable. But emotional eating can often spiral out of control, leading to obesity, diabetes, and heart problems in the long run. I hope this post has helped you learn how to listen to your body’s needs, so that you can stay healthy and happy, without giving up your love for food. :)
-Written by Sarah Reyna, Mindfulness Teacher in Training and Marketing Strategist at Dash Diabetes Network.
You can also follow me on my journey to a more Mindful Life at @sarahrrreyna IG
This BASICS acronym has been modified for those with diabetes. <3