“But it was just a small bite”
You keep your meals healthy. You choose whole foods most of the time. You cook at home a lot, and avoid eating out too often. You manage your calories at meals and snacks. You are physically active most days. So why can’t you reach your health goals? Whether it is weight loss, fat loss, muscle building, or just wanting to be healthier, tasting is the number one reason you might fail to reach your goals. Right now, you may be thinking, “But it was just a small bite…what harm can that do?” Well, a lot actually.
It all adds up
Let’s look at an example:
Grabbing a piece of candy from the break room…70 Calories
Eating a handful of your kids’ snack crackers…70 Calories
Having a bite of chicken while you chop for dinner…42 Calories
Eating two more bites of dinner while cleaning up leftovers…40 Calories
Sampling a teaspoon of cookie dough…80 Calories
302 Calories extra for your day.
Now you say, “well I don’t do those things every day”. Ok, well, let’s say you do half of those things daily, that’s 151 extra calories a day. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot, but let’s add it up through the year, and remember that we all do more of this during the holidays.
151 Calories extra daily x 365 days in the year = that is an extra 55,115 Calories per year! If we estimate that 1 pound of fat is about 3,500 Calories (yes there are some variables here, but this is a good number for estimating) then that means we have just misjudged our progress by about 15.7 pounds!
That means we all thought we should have lost 15 pounds last year, but since we weren’t counting our tastes, we didn’t. And, guess what? We didn’t even realize we ate those 55,115 extra Calories! Those tastes have little to no impact on our hunger; meaning we ate the same amount at the meals or snacks following those tastes. And, really we don’t even enjoy those tastes because research shows that when we are standing up, or busy doing something else, the pleasure of eating is greatly reduced.
Now, some of us are wonderful chefs and would say that we must taste our creations to assess the flavors. Yes, you should engage in this kind of tasting especially if you are developing a new recipe. All I am saying is that we need to make a mental note of it. Those tastes do count. They are not calorie free just because they were small. Don’t forget about them. Also, taste only as necessary, don’t overdo it.
We don’t even know we do this
So, why do we do this? (Other than the reason mentioned above when developing a new recipe or if necessary during cooking.) The other reasons we taste are habit, boredom, hunger. Some of us don’t even realize we do this! Some of us have been tasting more than we ever thought was possible, and we don’t even know it. If you taste out of habit, your first step is to recognize what you are doing. Picture this: It’s mid-morning, and you are starting to get a little hungry. There is a lull in your morning work, and so you head to the break room to see what everyone else is up to. There is no one in the room, but there is a dish of Giradelli Squares on the table. You grab one and eat it on your way back to your desk. Back at your desk, you realize it is 10:30am and time for your morning snack. You pull out your apple and cheese stick. You proceed to finish your snack, not realizing your little breakroom treat added 70 extra Calories.
We are bored
We also taste more when we are bored. Here comes the snack crackers. It’s 3pm, the kids are awake from naps, it is still two and a half hours until your better half returns home from work, and everyone is getting restless. You pull out the 10 pound bag of snack crackers you just purchased at Costco for a snack for everyone. While sitting with the kids, you grab a handful. You eat your handful of snack crackers while grabbing milk and water for everyone else and in less than 1 minute they are gone. You don’t even realize you had any. It appears you didn’t make a dent in that ridiculously sized bag of crackers, and so you may just grab another small handful.
We are hungry
Lastly, we do taste more when we are hungry, and the more hungry we get, the more likely we are to make an unwise choices. Let’s say you return home from a busy day or work or from running errands. You didn’t pack a healthy snack to take, and so when you get home you are starving. You purchased a rotisserie chicken to make into enchiladas for dinner. While cutting up that chicken, your stomach calls to you, and you can’t resist. A couple little bites won’t hurt, right? 42 Calories later, you are still ravenous because your brain didn’t get the signal that you ate anything. If you are still thinking, “that’s not so bad,” Just sampling the chicken is 4.4 pounds per year!
How to solve the problem
If you can relate to any of these three stories above then you should read on. If we ever want to meet our goals, we need to think through this problem. How do we solve this problem of tasting?
- Recognize when you do it. Be mindful of everything you put in your mouth. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to count Calories, but it does mean you have to pay attention!
- Consider why you do it. Is there a certain time of day I am more likely to taste? Is there a certain place or situation where this happens more often? Are there certain people who may encourage this?
- Start to problem solve.
- Keep a short list of tasting on your refrigerator and assign a Calorie value.
- Make up a short affirmation to prevent yourself from doing it.
- Stop. Take a minute to consider long-term consequences of tastes.
- Pause before starting dinner to prepare a healthy snack and take 2 minutes to sit down to eat it.
- Allow 100-200 extra Calories daily in your plan for those tastes.
- Make a rule to always eat sitting down at the table without distractions.
- While cooking, chew gum, or have a mint (careful, those can add up too!)
The most important thing you can do to find victory over this saboteur of health goals is to recognize that you are doing it. Work on being mindful of all that goes in your mouth. Once you have identified your patterns and reasons for doing so, you can start to fight! Don’t let tasting get between you and all you are working toward!