The “BASICS” of Mindful Eating

The BASICS, adapted from the book Savor Every Bite, Mindful Ways to Eat, Love Your Body, and Live with Joy by Lynn Rossy, is a quick mnemonic for the practice of mindful eating. The letters stand for Breathe and Belly Check Before You Eat, Assess Your Food, Slow Down, Investigate Your Hunger Throughout the Meal, Chew Your Food Thoroughly, and Savor Your Food. Each element of BASICS unravels the fundamental principles of mindful eating, encouraging us to be fully present during every step of our culinary experiences.

B – Breathe and Belly Check Before You Eat.

Before you eat, take a few deep breaths and notice whether you have sensations of physical hunger.

  • How hungry are you?
  • What are you hungry for?
  • Maybe you’re hungry, but you could also be bored, tired, or stressed.

If you’re physically hungry, take your time to choose food that you can enjoy and savor. If you’re not, assess what your body might need like movement or rest.

A – Assess Your Food.

  • What does your food look like?
  • Does it look appealing?
  • Is your food colorful?
  • How does it smell?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Is this the food you want?

S – Slow Down.

  • Slowing down the eating experience can promote a heightened enjoyment of your food. You may also find yourself more attentive when your body is telling you it has had enough.
  • You can actively practice slowing down by trying to put down your fork between bites, pause and take a breath between bites, and chew your food thoroughly. You can also try eating with chopsticks.

I – Investigate Your Hunger Throughout the Meal.

  • Try to limit your distractions and keep your attention on eating, savoring, and assessing your hunger and satiety throughout the meal.
  • Halfway through, you may realize that you are no longer hungry. It’s ok to stop eating based on awareness of your hunger and satiety cues. You can eat to the value it brings you. More does not equate to a more valuable feeling but instead possible discomfort.

C – Chew Your Food Thoroughly.

  • Pay attention to the sensations as you chew. When you’re thorough, your body will process the food better, get more nutritional value, and it will dispel your hunger cues.

S – Savor Your Food.

  • Food is a joyful and necessary part of our lives. Savoring means taking the time to choose food that you like and that will satisfy you right now. The food will provide value and experience. It will be worth it! 

With each step of BASICS, we are guided toward a more conscious and gratifying approach to eating. We are encouraged to pause and connect with our bodies, recognizing true physical hunger from other emotional triggers that might lead to unnecessary eating. It allows us to savor our food’s appearance, aroma, and origins, and we learn to appreciate the nourishment we receive.

Slowing down the pace of eating allows us to fully savor the flavors and textures, heightening the pleasure derived from each bite. We remain attentive to our body’s signals of fullness throughout the meal and can avoid overeating. Chewing our food thoroughly not only aids digestion but also provides a deeper sensory experience, enhancing our overall satisfaction with the meal. Through this, we have a reminder that mindful eating is not just about what we eat but how we eat.

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