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Bad habit of snacking while cooking/baking

Over the years I have developed a terrible habit of constantly tasting and sampling the things I'm working on in the kitchen. It doesn't matter what I'm making: main course meat, veggie sides, soups, baked goods, sauces, healthy food or junky food - anything and everything! I know an occasional taste is important to test seasoning, but I tend to go WAAAY beyond that - to the point that occasionally I have snacked so much that I am sick of the dish by the time I serve it. I can avoid snacking when I'm not cooking and doing other things in the kitchen - but when I'm cooking I'm hopeless.
So I'd appreciate hearing any tips from others who have this tendency but have managed to conquer it. Need some ideas so I don't have to banish myself from the kitchen altogether! (Also would love to teach better kitchen habits to my kids than my mom apparently taught me.)

asked by TobiT over 2 years ago
14 answers 2146 views
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added over 2 years ago

I am a bit like you. But in my case I try to limit the sampling by telling myself before I dig in (with a clean ustensil every single time of course 0) ) "r u tasting to check seasoning or have u already ascertained dish is good as is?" So if answer is yes, then I stay away. But I guess this may be more easily said than done. LOL
I say that you stick a mint gum in your mouth.

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I'm thinking of the usual ways to avoid snacking of any kind. Pop a mint or minty gum, drink a glass of water, brush your teeth. If it persists, you might try hypnosis?

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

What a good topic. Try not to be too hungry while you're cooking. Obviously, that's easier to manage if you're planning to cook a special dish over the week. Much harder to manage on weeknights when you're trying to get a meal on the table for the family, and probably didn't each lunch yourself.

Don't laugh, but if I'm hungry and about to cook, I often eat a hard-boiled egg (or scrambled, whatever, it's just easy to keep some hard-boiled eggs in the fridge) before starting on a recipe because the protein works fast to curb my appetite. I hope it doesn't sound awful but sometimes I dip them in hummus because of the chickpeas (think of it as a cheap deviled egg). Or just eat a banana. RESTRAIN YOURSELF while you chop some vegetables to give the protein snack a few minutes to get into your bloodstream and digestive system. Works for me.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

"Obviously, that's easier to manage if you're planning to cook a special dish over the week."

Meant to type "weekend," not "week." Wish we had a window for previewing/editing posts!

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Sorry to all if I'm over-posting, but I'm trained to look at things 360 degrees and just thought of something else...

TobiT, is it possible this has a physical or emotional component? If you haven't seen your doc in over a year, might be helpful to get a basic check-up, basic blood tests, thyroid function, heart function, etc. And talk to them about whether therapy might be useful. A lot of eating is emotional... sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Be well!

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added over 2 years ago

Make the spoons demitasse spoons too!

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I call this the BLT (bites, licks, tastes) syndrome and I used to have it BAD. I noticed it would take the edge off of my hunger and others enjoyed the meal more than I did.

A friend had the same issue, so we challenged ourselves and chose to give it up for one month. Supposedly, that is how long it takes to develop a new habit. I literally would walk around looking for tasters. Luckily, I lived with a foodie bunch.

Things that helped were (like pegreen) eating a little protein and fat before cooking. Brushing my teeth. Having a pretty glass of Sassy Water close by.

After a month, happily we both broke our BLT habit. Food tastes so much better when you haven't gone overboard on the quality control. :)

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

I do love to taste, and re-taste if what I'm cooking is real good. But I'm a caffeine addict and usually try to have a cup of coffee, iced or hot, depending on the season, nearby. For me it's a treat that never gets old. Might not work for everyone, though.

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added over 2 years ago

I think mindfulness is key- though not easy. Anyone with small kids can probably attest to eating all the leftover bits on the kids' plates in addition to their own meals. I have to purposefully think (sometimes even out loud) that I'm not going to mindlessly keep popping things in my mouth. And if I have prepped something like browned sausage or bacon that is ripe for the tasting, I cover it and put it away.

As for grocery shopping, I do chew gum or bring water with me not only to avoid needless samples that I don't even want, but to avoid plopping things in my cart that I don't want or need. Maybe you can try swallowing a chug of water every time you think you want to nibble....but you have to first be mindful of the nibble!

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added over 2 years ago

All - thank you so much for your thoughtful and creative advice. I agree about the mindfulness (and the comparison to eating your kids' food - I had a lot of trouble with that, too, but I guess I got so sick of Mac and cheese etc that that particular problem took care of itself).

Pegeen, you are dead right about not starting hungry, or taking the edge off with protein+fat. I've learned to do that pre-grocery shopping. You are also right about the emotional component of eating (working on it...). And I did get a clean bill of health recently, so I don't get any good excuses ... Just lack of self-discipline in kitchen!

I will be trying many of these helpful hints - some in combination: 4-5 demitasse spoons, notes to myself, gum, water ... And mostly mindfulness.

Also, for anyone interested, I mentioned this today to someone not on Food52, and she had a couple ideas I thought I'd share:

Wear tooth whitening strips while cooking (I suppose that would work when you truly don't need to do any tasting) and

Tell your kid or spouse or roommate or whoever is with you in the kitchen to charge you a quarter each time you taste unnecessarily. In my case, however, I might be tempted to pull that Mae West trick - where she handed the "swear jar" guy on the movie set $5 in anticipation of all the swearing she knew she'd do!

Cheers all - and many thanks!

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I totally love the Mae West swear jar connection. :0)

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added over 2 years ago

chewing gum solves my problems

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added over 2 years ago

Something that always seems to work for me is a few nuts - they seem to satisfy and distract me from nibbling and they also keep me busy munching.