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How many licks does it take?

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Don’t read while you eat.

Do read while you eat.

Coffee is bad for you.

Coffee wards off Alzheimer’s.

Did anyone else notice that some of the health advice you’ve heard completely contradicts the advice others have heard? Recently I came across a really funny one:

“When you eat a food—for example, an almond—chew each one 25-30 times.”


So I tried it… not because I actually care, but simply because I was curious.

Who ever heard of counting how many times he/she chewed something! Weird, right? The whole time, I was thinking of that owl commercial with the Tootsie Pops.

how many licks does it take

How many licks does it take? Did you ever try counting how many licks it took to finish a Tootsie Pop? I definitely did!

But back to this ridiculous notion of counting almond chews. Let me tell you, there is no way you can chew an almond 30 times! Unless maybe it is the king kong of almonds… Or perhaps I just have super-fast chewing capabilities???

While I understand the reasoning behind it—to make people slow down when they eat—the whole idea of counting chews sounds like a way to guarantee one thing, and one thing only: that you will take all the enjoyment out of the act of eating.

tootsie pops

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. arekestall says:


    I stumbled across your post as it was one of the newly posted ones, and it’s always annoying to see someone has visited your blog and not commented.

    I totally get you on the food advice thing.

    I like the one about putting your knife and fork down between each mouthful. Seriously?!

    Talk about bad hygiene.

    PS what is that picture up there, looks like chips with icing…

  2. I love the Tootsie Roll owl — soooo cute!! I never tried to count my links though (at least, not beyond “one, a-two, a-threeeeeeeee!”)

  3. I meant to say licks, lol

  4. Jenny says:

    Chew an almond 30 times!!!! impossible- a lot of us share your chewing capabilities:)

  5. I ALWAYS used to try to count my licks! Then I’d lose count halfway through. 😉

  6. Jenny:
    Darn! I thought I was special 😉

  7. Jessica:
    Haha yeah I did too. I don’t think I ever made it to the tootsie pop center without forgetting!

  8. arekestall:
    Thanks for finding me!!
    If you click on the link “coconut math” it’ll take you to that post! :)

  9. Anonymous says:

    thank you so much for posting this. i can’t believe someone wrote on your formspring saying your thinspiration to anorexics, because the opposite is true. i am trying so hard to recover, and your blog above all others has helped me the most. i’m even gaining weight since i found your blog. not that its all because of you, but really you’ve helped me so much to see how ridiculous some of my habits are.
    for example, i actually DO count my chewing, and after reading this now i am motivated to stop because you’ve called me on it and i can see how ridiculous it is for a normal person so if i ever want to get my life back and be a normal person i have to stop doing such things. you inspire me everyday. thank you!

  10. Mary says:

    I definitely tried that! The only problem was I didn’t like lolipops so I wouldn’t want to eat the whole thing!

  11. eatandrun says:

    I hate math, but coconut math sounds like sometyhing I could get on board with ;).

  12. eatandrun says:

    Oops I meant “something”

  13. Sarahishealthy says:

    My friends and I would have contests to see who could get to the center in the fewest licks!

  14. Inspired says:

    I’d never heard that one. How have I gotten along in life without counting how many times I chew an almond lol?

  15. Hope you had a great weekend! :)

    I think the purpose of chewing 20-25 times is actually to aid your body in digestion and the breakdown of the food to glucose and such. ‘

    But goodness, I don’t chew that much even if I “should”! I have a toddler to run after so I consider it a luxury if I get to chew at all! 😉

  16. Haha chew an almond 30 times! I practically inhale my food so counting to 30 chews would be torture!

  17. Marina says:

    Stupid food rules are so stupid 😀
    I tried chewing my food more, and eating slower, but I’m not very good at it.
    I just try and enjoy every single bite, even if it’s a huge one 😀

  18. I read somewhere that there is a movement for people to chew their food up to 100 times. Who has time for that?!?!

  19. vegangal says:

    hi katie! i agree with anonymous. i don’t count chewing times but i do think that your bblog has been one of the main ones to help me in my recovery. i use it as a “distraction” which is something healthy your supposed to do instead of thinking of reasons to restrict. i love seeing how you show that you can be healthy and happy and eat a ton without getting fat! don’t ever change. i love you! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  20. jcd says:

    Debunking “healthy food advice” is an excellent idea. I see some truth behind them, but nothing that ever agrees with my body.

    Oh, and the Vega/Thrive prize arrived from Sequel on Friday! They included a reusable shopping bag too. I haven’t read the book yet but it looks interesting. I wonder what I will lean from it. (The book I got looks different from the book in your post, probably because it’s a Canadian version.) Thank you so much, Katie!

  21. Rachel says:

    It seems like you generalize that everyone has the same body type or that people aren’t battling with their weight or with losing weight. Not everyone can eat as much as you can, I personally know that I just cannot eat bread or cereals as much as I wish I could. My body metabolizes it differently. As does everyone elses. The chewing rules are ourdated, but honestly they are meant as a reminder to actually slow down and enjoy your food and CHEW thoroughly. It’s better for digestion if you properly chew your food. That might make sense for you, and everyone reading the blog, but have you thought about the folks that are overweight, downing pounds of junk food? Not chewing or stopping to breathe inbetween bites? NOT everyone, but people that have trouble with over eating, will at times eat more when they are dining out with friends, because they see their friends eating more, because they’re spending more time at the table eating. It’s not to say don’t go out to eat with friends, but its meant for people that are trying to lose, to be aware that they can consume more if they are out in a social setting, where they aren’t in control of portion control. Everyones different.

  22. Rachel:
    I wrote right in my post that I understand the *reasoning* behind the “rule” is to make people slow down when they eat. So no, I do not think I’m generalizing or mistakenly believing that everyone can eat as much as me.
    But I don’t think it’s a good idea for ANYone to treat their meals as numbers. Slow down while you eat, yes. But count your chews? No. I think it sounds like something that would take the enjoyment out of eating, and everyone–even overweight people, of course–deserves to enjoy what they eat.
    It’s just my opinion.

  23. Anonymous and vegangal:
    Wow, you two are such sweethearts! Thanks for leaving such kind comments to make me smile :).

  24. abby says:

    have you seen “mean girls”? hahaha i love her all carb diet!

  25. Ha! Counting chews does seem pretty silly. Alicia Silverstone’s book talks a lot about counting, as some sort of macrobiotic practice. Supposedly, it helps with digestion. So I tried it … just for fun. But honestly, I got pretty bored with counting after like two bites.

  26. I agree – you hear one thing one day and then something totally different the next. But you are right, you just have to stay true to yourself! If you listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs :)

    About the chewing thing – silly. My parents used to tell me that when I was little but I think they just wanted to make sure I didn’t choke or something haha

  27. I remember hearing the chew-so-many-times rule when I was younger and I tried to do it with normal mouthfuls of food. It was hard even with a full bite, forget about chewing one dinky little almond 30 times!

  28. Valerie says:

    Sorry Rachel, but I think Katie was right on the money. I think that even more than normal weight people, those who are overweight should not count their bites because it makes them lose track of enjoying their food, like Katie said. And if they are not enjoying their food, then they do not feel satisfied, which makes them crave more. So it’s a bad cycle.

  29. lisa says:

    I think it’s weird how some people will say that you need to focus on your food while you eat (turn out all distractions) so you ‘enjoy’ your food and know what you’re eating and will eat slower, but they also say that you should enjoy your food with others and not eat alone. How are you supposed to tune out all distractions when you’re with others? Are you supposed to eat at a table with your family or friends but not speak? Weird.

  30. Carbzilla says:

    Hi sweet girl! I have definitely NOT been one of those folks who’s been commenting on all your posts but know I’m still here and reading! I freakin’ LOVED that owl AND the chocolate Tootsie pops!

  31. I actually do find that counting how many times I chew something does help me slow down. And slowing down does help me feel fuller faster.

    I agree that there is a lot of advice that is pretty ridiculous when it comes to weight loss (that cut off time is one — for ME — for other people, it can help them).

    But we’re all different. Just listening to my body alone doesn’t work for me. I have to work hard to lose weight — and that takes a lot of attention to what I’m doing. So for me, the counting thing helps.

    Which hardly means I chew every bite 20 times, or even worry about it when I don’t. But it is something to aim for.

  32. Judy:
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment with a differing opinion to mine. I guess, after reading your comment and Rachel’s, I should concede the point that counting can be useful for some people. So if it works for you, all the more power to you. Maybe it’s not such a bad “rule” after all :).
    …But I still can’t figure out how it’s possible to chew an almond 30 times LOL!

  33. Why does my mind go straight to the lil Kim song- then I scroll down and see the tootsie owl!

    I’ve tried the counting thing before- after about three bites I was unconvinced- first one was fun, second one was annoying, third time I made it to 12

  34. Katie says:

    I definitely counted the licks to the center of a tootsie pop! My best friend and I did it once on a road trip in the back of a mini-van, and we actually WROTE DOWN a tally mark for each lick. Hilarious, it kept us busy for hours. :-)

  35. Aimee says:

    Love that coconut math! I could see that picture again and again :)

  36. Katie says:

    I remember trying this when I first heard it many many years ago, and it was impossible. the food was gone by the time I got to 20. Maybe I just have super saliva.

  37. Jess says:

    Oh my gosh I remember that commercial with the owl–LOVE IT!
    <3 jess

  38. Rachel says:

    Well that’s taking it a little too literal. The number doesn’t work for ALL foods. Almonds are small. But if you are eating a big leafy salad or crackers. Anything bulky.. It helps to slow down and count till it’s easier to swallow. A lot if folks wolf down there food. I actually try and eat slower. Put down my fork while I’m chewing sometimes because if I’m not paying attention I can end up eating too fast. Everyones different just remember that. Some of us aren’t trying to gain we are trying to lose or maintain and it’s a struggle everyday. In my house certain foods are banned because I can’t have them in the house. I don’t want them if they aren’t here. Little things help.

  39. Catherine says:

    Haha I used to love those commercials! Every time I would try to count the licks on a tootsie pop or blow-pop afterwards and would alllways end up biting them!

  40. Katie says:

    Gosh, I remember when I used to count up to 20 bites for each piece of food. Not fun times, let me tell you. It was an ED trait. And boy did it take all of the enjoyment out of eating.

  41. I find that when I read during eating, I stop thinking about what I’m eating so I don’t really register it. But for me, the best way to slow down is to eat while talking with someone – plus, it’s more fun to be with people! 😀
    I can’t imagine counting my bites, either. Wow.

  42. todayslady says:

    Awww thanks for giving a shout out to my advice!! So sweet!!

    I definitely tried to count how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop…… I never found out! Its so not fun counting licks!!

  43. Hahahahaha, amazing post, Katie!
    I tried to count how many times I chewed once… Not enough, I can tell you!
    Hahahahah 😉
    Have a great week, girl!
    Delicious eats, as always!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,

  44. HAHA. I almost fell of my chair becaue of laughing so hard here at work while imagining you chewing an ALMOND for 30 times 😀 so funny. Not possible! 😀

  45. HVL says:

    I really enjoying reading your blog and do agree that a lot of ‘rules’ are silly, but a lot of them do have a solid reasoning behind them and have simply been distorted (through word of mouth and the ‘rule’ changing). A lot of commenters saying that ‘rules’ are silly say that people just need to stick to a healthy diet and listen to their body – but a lot of people struggle with that (or think their body is craving a burger and fries). ‘Rules’ aren’t meant for everyone – I get the impression that most are made for people who struggle with weight loss (and bingeing). For some people who struggle with not having the willpower to break bad habits and eat a healthy, balanced diet, having a ‘rule’ to stick to might help them. A sensible one, of course, like savouring your food and eating at a slower pace – not ones about eliminating whole food groups or only eating a cracker a day, or some other nonsense (the ‘rule’ should still help and encourage eating a healthy, balanced diet).

    I agree with Rachel’s last post. Slowing down eating and not being too distracted when you eat is a good thing. It’s good to eat at a slower pace so that you recognise when you feel full up, rather than wolfing everything down and perhaps eating more than you need to. I’m not saying that people need to count each and every chew (30 chews for an almond? How silly!).

  46. Krysta says:

    I think the chew your food 30 times thing is more of a guideline. Actually the first step of digestion occurs in the mouth during chewing where your saliva starts to breakdown the food. So I think the logic isn’t just to encourage people to slow down, but also to aid in proper digestion. I would venture to say that most people (me included) don’t really chew their food thoroughly enough. However, let’s be realistc, counting every bite of food you eat to make sure you are chewing 30 times is totally impractical. But I think the overall purpose is to remind people to be mindful of eating, rather than to mindlessly scarf down food.

    But man, there are some pretty silly “rules” out there. It often seems like for one ” healthy rule” there is an equal and opposite ” healthy rule.” It’s the law of silly food physics 😉

  47. Kayla says:

    Haha. Food chewing. Thank God my OCD is chilling out. I used to cut my food into 33 pieces, chew each bite 33 times, take a drink of water after each bite, and leave one piece of each food item on my plate. When I was little, I ate my food in alphabetical order. xD