March is Nutrition Month: Consider the BASICS when you eat

Take stock of your relationship with food and learn mindful eating techniques.

March is Nutrition Month and a good time to stop and take stock of your relationship with food. Most of us have never considered we even have a relationship with food, let alone wonder about how ours is progressing. Your breathing is always with you and functions without much thought on our part. Sleep is similar to breathing in that most folks are able to sleep without assistance or effort. Eating, however, requires some work; a deliberate thought process that seems simple yet can be full of confusion, choices and challenges.

Marketing and media messages drive home the latest and greatest when it comes to food. Preschool children know which cereals are gluten-free and which have the tasty marshmallow shapes in it. Nutrition experts abound on television, the Internet and across the airwaves. Who do you believe? What should you eat? What does your doctor say? A single episode of a popular television show can send even a savvy consumer into a tailspin about what is good, or not good, for optimum health when it comes to food choices.

Michigan State University Extension recommends we stick with the basics when it comes to food and eating. The Center for Mindful Eating uses the acronym BASICS when giving us an easy outline for approaching food in a mindful way.

  • B: Belly check. Are you really hungry? Is your body wanting or needing a particular food? Are you thirsty? What is your body saying to you? Take a deep breath and check in with your body. Could it be you need something other than food or drink?
  • A: Assess your food. Take a good look at what you put in front of yourself. Where did it come from? Is it real food or a manufactured compilation of food products with additives and color? Be aware of the elements that went into the development of this food – sunshine, water and a manufacturing process. Just taking a moment to contemplate and assess your food will give you a base of knowledge that lets you know if this is something your body needs or wants.
  • S: Slow down. Take time to enjoy your food. Sit at a table, eat slowly, have a conversation without television or a phone interrupting your feast. Share your food with a companion. Lay your fork down between bites. Many people today are eating so fast on the go they can’t remember what the food tasted like, if it was good or even what they ate.
  • I: Investigate your hunger. Stop periodically during your meal to see if you are getting full or need to have another bite. Be aware of any distractions and return your attention to tasting your food and checking on your hunger. Stop if you are full, even if there is still food on your plate.
  • C: Chew your food thoroughly. Chewing food releases chemicals that aid in proper digestion. As you chew your food you will have improved taste of the food and more easily be able to recognize feelings of fullness.
  • S: Savor, savor, savor with pleasure! Keep your attention on the smell, taste and texture of every bite. Enjoy food that satisfies your hunger as well as your other senses. Make eating an experience that honors your body and satisfies your soul.

In the Stress Less with Mindfulness curriculum, participants learn eating mindfully takes thought and effort and can improve your health and wellness. Savor every bite and savor the moments you share with others as you practice the BASICS for mindful eating.

For more information on caregiving or family issues that affect you and your family, visit the MSU Extension and eXtension websites.

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