A lick of sauce here. A taste of dough there. A few jelly beans popped in as a palate cleanser. Cooking dinner for me is like one long buffet of yumminess. Part of it is out of necessity; I’m not the world’s great cook (* cough* understatement* cough*) and tasting the food before I serve it spares my family some of my more spectacular failures. But mostly I snack while I’m cooking because of some combination of: I’m hungry, it tastes good, I’m stressed and it’s there. All those licks, nibbles and handfuls of chocolate chips out of the bag (whoa, what’s that doing open in my cabinet?) add up and often by the time I actually serve dinner, I’m F-U-L-L full.

If I were a single gal this wouldn’t be a problem – I could just pack up the food and save if for later – but because having family dinner together is important in my house, I will need to sit down with my kids and husband to eat. This leaves me with two options. I can either sit and not eat anything, honoring my fullness intuitive-eating style but giving my kids the warped impression that moms cook dinner and never eat it. Or I can eat with my family meaning I have second dinner and end up overly full. (Aiee I have too much yummy food available! First-world problems, I know.)

Obviously the logical conclusion is to finish off those last chocolate chips so I can throw the bag out so I won’t have to listen to it call my name every time I open the cabinet. Oh wait. What I meant was obviously the logical conclusion is to not eat so much while I’m cooking it so I’ll still have an appetite when it comes to dinner! Ding, ding, ding! So simple and yet, like Lindsay Lohan doing community service, so hard to follow through with.

Over the years I’ve come across a few tips for solving this problem:

  • Chew gum to keep your mouth busy. Good idea except I often forget I’m chewing gum until I pop something in my mouth and realize that mint-flavored cheese biscuits are surprisingly good.
  • Have a plate of cut-up crudites to snack on. Sometimes I do this but I generally end up eating other stuff along with it. Celery dipped in pasta sauce? Don’t mind if I do! Plus, overeating healthy food is still overeating.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy. This one surprised me. Eat candy to stop snacking…wha?? But the point was that if you are sucking on a piece of candy then the flavor and activity will keep your mouth occupied. And while it did prevent me from slurping too much soup, it did not prevent me from eating eight Jolly Ranchers. Who stops at one? Plus I discovered that I’m a biter, not a sucker.
  • Drink a big glass of ice cold water. Sipping on cold water with a lime floating in it (Yes a whole lime. Why settle for a slice when you can have the whole fruit? My tooth enamel hates me.) is supposed to shock your tastebuds into… I dunno. Hiding? Whatever it was supposed to do, I ended up finding it complimentary to my pre-meal meal.
  • Brush your teeth before cooking. This is the tip that has come closest to working for me as I have to use a very expensive brand of prescription toothpaste (no enamel, see above) to help with tooth sensitivity and it only works if you don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after brushing with it. So as long as I can cook it in half an hour or less I’m golden.
  • Make food you don’t like. What, really? Who writes these tips?!

Please tell me I’m not alone in this bad habit! And then please tell me how you fixed this problem! Are you one of those people who can cook without tasting it? Any other lemon/lime lovers out there? “Go suck a lemon” is like the awesomest insult ever for me.

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