POUR: A Guide to Mindful Eating

By Dr. Liz Chamberlain Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist 

Do you find yourself scrounging for food and mindlessly eating when you are not hungry, or overeating without realizing you are full or satisfied? We all indulge from time to time, but too much of a good thing can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Learn how to develop a better relationship with stress and food through our Stress Eating Virtual Workshop.

If you indulge more often, apply the POUR exercise before you eat: Pause, Observe, Understand, Respond.

How to be mindful of food using POUR


Ask yourself:
What is drawing me to this food right now?


Dive a little deeper:
Am I thinking about something?
Am I anxious or worried?
Am I ruminating about something that happened?
Do I want a release?
Do I want to celebrate?
Am I craving the taste of the food or the feel of it?
Am I hungry for a meal?


Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings:
I’m feeling stressed about work/relationships.
I’m restless.
I’m anxious.
I’m bored.
I’m hungry.
I’m tired.
I just want to taste that food.


Be proactive in your response

If I am hungry, my body needs food for fuel. What is a wise food choice that will give me energy for the next few hours?

If I am stressed or worried, I can approach that feeling by going for a walk, doing something with my hands (fidget with a worry stone, knit, squeeze a stress ball), listening to music, stretching, or taking a yoga pose and some mindful breaths.

If I am tired, I need to rest by taking a mindful break, meditating, listening to music, or letting my mind wander.

If I am craving that food and want to enjoy it, I can. I can play with it and indulge all my senses by arranging it on a plate and experience it through sight, touch, smell, and finally, taste. I can savor each bite by bringing awareness to it and set aside any distracting thoughts or feelings that may be uncomfortable.

We hope you find this guide practical. If you are struggling with eating due to stress or difficult emotions, learn to break the cycle by signing for our Stress Eating Virtual Workshop.

For additional mindful resources, take 5-7 minutes and practice any one of our mindfulness exercises. Eat well, be well.

Anschutz Health and Wellness Center