How To Stop Eating the Food While Cooking It?

By Ali Luke

You stir the sauce for dinner and you try a teeny bit … and a bit more … and another spoonful. You grate some cheese and slice a hunk off to nibble on. And maybe more olives find their way into your mouth than into the salad. It’s easy to clock up an extra couple of calories before you even sit down for a meal.

Here’s five simple ways to stop yourself picking at food while cooking:

1. Have a light snack before you start

If you’re already hungry when you begin preparing dinner, no wonder you end up eating whatever’s within reach. Have a piece of fruit or a small snack beforehand, to take the edge off your hunger. Try some of these if you want more ideas.

2. Chew sugar-free gum

Whenever I made a chocolate biscuit cake, I used to find it almost impossible not to “tidy up” the edge pieces – by eating them. Then I started chewing gum whilst slicing up the cake: an easy way to avoid “accidentally” popping a piece of cake into my mouth.

3. Chop up some veggies to munch on

If you really want something to eat while cooking, slice up a handful of raw vegetables. Just use a bit of whatever you’re going to be having for dinner; a few carrot sticks, celery or some slices of sweet pepper are ideal.

4. Chant a corny slogan

I came across this great saying in an old slimming book: “Little pickers wear bigger knickers.” (In the UK, “knickers” are ladies’ underpants.) So next time you’re tempted to just have a “little pick” at dinner, you might want to chant that one. Or invent your own! “A pre-dinner snack will set you back” is the best I can come up with…

5. Get someone else to cook!

The ultimate way to avoid snacking whilst preparing dinner is to stay out of the kitchen altogether. Get your partner to cook, or your kids – even younger children can help with much of the preparation.

Do you snack while you’re cooking, or are you great at resisting? Do you have any good tips – or any favorite silly slogans or mantras – to share?

(Image by obo-bobolina)


  1. Mel

    From all of the comments posted, seems like I am in the minority that I have huge issues with grazing while cooking. I’ve had it for years now, my parents do it too.
    It’s a miracle I haven’t gained my weight back from this horrible habit! I can’t stop.

    I’ve tried putting up signs with cows grazing with “no” symbols on them. I’ve tried positive self talk. Tried the snack, the gum, the water. It’s not that i’m hungry, it’s just something I do without thinking. Next thing I know, Im not hungry for the dinner i’ve finished

  2. personal trainer

    This reminds me of my all time favourite quote – “little pickers wear bigger knickers!” .

  3. Sally

    I’ve always sampled my food while cooking to make sure it taste right. However, when it’s time to sit down and eat I’m not hungry. LOL

  4. Kathy Joyce

    A good way to curb your appetite while preparing a meal is to drink a glass of water. It makes you feel full and takes the edge of your hunger. Water also helps to raise the metabolism.

  5. Sara

    This is a huge problem for me. Not so much the actual food I’m cooking (unless it’s baking) but just snacking because I’m in the kitchen. Sometimes I serve a smaller portion for myself to counter-act it but usually that doesn’t happen. The gum thing sounds like a good trick, I may have to try that.

  6. Registered User

    please use a name and not your site as your name. Thx. admin.

  7. Mark Supplements

    I find the first one works the best for me. Cooking on a completely empty stomach makes me want to eat the food I am cooking more.

    Saying that though I don’t really see any harm in picking at what you are cooking. You should be cooking healthy food anyways so eating it at a slower pace can’t be that bad 🙂

  8. anon

    Tasting can add up to a lot of calories. I think that people who constantly taste while they are cooking, are probably nibblers through out the day – which can pack on calories and pounds!

    See my post “Just One Bite” at

  9. Jeff

    I must confess that sadly when I cook I rarely taste. And it is for the reasons stated above. Not that anything I’ve ever made as come out particularly bad taste-wise, but it’s something a good cook is supposed to do.

    As far the article, the advice makes enough sense I suppose, particularly if you are a heavy picker, though ideally you’d like to be able to compensate in other areas to offset the picking.

  10. Tina

    That number three sounds like a good way. I always take a.. little sample of my food when cooking.

    “Little pickers wear bigger knickers.”
    THat was pretty funny. 😀

  11. Deirdre

    I do have this problem. I am often preparing dinner at a time when I am feeling hungry and tired and a little out of control. My best bet is to take a little “me” time first, sit down, maybe have a snack and/or a cup of tea, and catch my breath between a busy day and plunging into dinner.

  12. cereal

    I’m also in the group that believes that a good cook always tastes whats going into there food; it’s not like a few tastes of the ingredients are going to cause your body to explode with fat.

    People really need to relax more, and take it easy on themselves; you don’t need to get down on yourself just for tasting ingredients.

  13. John W. Zimmer

    Ahhh… you are going to take the fun out of cooking. I personally love to barbeque so I can ‘sample’ the food as I am cooking 🙂

    I guess it is good I don’t cook much. I like suggestion number 5!

  14. Katie

    That’s my situation, though my recipes are usually a matter of what seasonings I put on top of steamed vegetables, or stews that are hard to really mess up.

  15. JimK

    I popped in to make the same comment. Tasting is *absolutely* essential, unless you’re just a throw-it-together person who couldn’t care less how it tastes.

    There’s smart eating as a good concept, but I don’t think this article is very smart. It promotes the idea that even small tastes for flavor will “ruin” a diet. I don’t think this kind of thing is helpful to people struggling to lose weight.

    My $0.02. YMMV.

  16. lila

    I put a toothpick between my teeth and hold it there. That reminds me not to snack while I’m cooking.

  17. Selina

    I thought I was the only one who experienced this. Especially after preparing multi-course dinners, I have no desire to eat anything, even though I was excited about the prospect of eating it beforehand.

  18. Spectra

    I don’t really have this problem…when I’m cooking/baking/etc., I focus on the cooking and not the eating. I usually drink a glass of water or something while I cook and that usually helps prevent me from eating stuff.

  19. Blake

    the key for me is to not be hungry when i cook…otherwise i am munching away as i cook. good tips!

  20. b

    That was my thought – how do you cook well if you never taste it on the way?? I do admit to going overboard occasionally, but I’ve become more aware of it and just keep telling myself that I’ll get plenty of it soon enough. 🙂

  21. Kailash

    Cook healthy food = Problem solved

  22. Jordan

    These are all great suggestions on snacking before mealtime. However, chewing gum can sometimes have the opposite affect as far as nipping the munchies in the bud. Chewing gum increases saliva production and signals the brain that it is time to eat by thinking that it is going to have to digest food. When you chew gum and constantly increase saliva production you increase hunger as well. A better option in my opinion is to brush your teeth before you eat because this can eliminate hunger or cravings. Also, I agree with snacking on veggies if you have too they are the least offensive calorie wise and healthy for you too. I think these same principles should apply before you grocery shop too. Eat a healthy snack before you go and you won’t end up buying all the wrong things or indulge while you shop. I’ve also found that for uncontrollable hunger throughout the day supplementing a natural appetite suppressant can reduce calorie consumption and hunger.

  23. Laura

    I pick quite a bit, but I cook only for myself, so anything I eat just means less I’m going to get in the meal, and I count everything in my calories for the day (whether or not it goes into my mouth during preparation or as part of the finished product).

  24. caffeine free

    I never use recipes so it is necessary to taste what you are cooking to make sure you are not poisoning the people you are serving. However, once I am done cooking, I am usually not hungry. It has something to do with the smell of the food tricking your body into believing you already ate. Hasn’t anyone every experienced this while baking cookies?

  25. Barry

    Are you kidding? This is actually a problem for people? I never nibble the food I’m cooking. It’s never even occurred to me.

  26. Roe

    “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!”

  27. Jan

    You shouldn’t be nibbling for nibbling’s sake, but you have to taste your food as you cook it. Otherwise you’ll end up with under- or over-seasoned food.

    To offset all that constant tasting, the cook should serve him/herself a smaller portion.