Cupcake Wars on Food NetworkHave you ever heard of that food-shopping rule of thumb? You know, never go when you're hungry. Passing the sweet smells of the bakery section on an empty stomach is pretty much torture. The advice applies to watching most, if not all, TV cooking shows too. Seriously, have you perchance sat down to watch "Hell's Kitchen" on an empty stomach? No, you haven't because you don't survive that. No one survives that.

Imagine yourself sitting through an entire hour-long episode, watching chefs compete by preparing the most delectable culinary creations you've ever seen, with the background noise of ... your stomach rumbling like thunder on a warm summer day. You can't even control the reaction because it's basically a Pavlovian response to the barren wasteland of a stomach you've left for yourself. Add the fact that after watching these shows sans-snacks, the only thing you will crave is food from a Michelin-starred restaurant and everything hitting your mouth that isn't up to this standard will leave you unsatisfied for, pretty much, forever. So, remember, eat first, and then watch these shows.

'Cupcake Wars' (2009 - )

It is not safe to watch this on a stomach filled solely with dinner. You need to have dessert as well in order to walk away from "Cupcake Wars" because, damn, is this show sweet! Not only is it a cutthroat competition, but the bakers frequently featured on the show are also masters at cooking up the most delectable combinations of cupcakes you'll ever see. Cookies and cream with Oreo-infused icing? Strawberry cheesecake topped with cocoa-based frosting? Your mouth will be watering and your empty stomach moaning before you can make it to the first commercial break.

'MasterChef' (2010 - )

Looking for food inspiration for your next dinner? Wanna learn how to cook but don't want to go to cooking classes? Try watching some "MasterChef" to learn the ways of the masters ... Well, it's more like watching Gordon Ramsay yell at people who think they're the best chefs around -- but they're not -- while they make luscious meals like mini Salisbury steaks, shrimp spring rolls, and everything else the imagination can cook up. Thee majority of food prepared for the competition is drool-worthy deliciousness, and you should definitely have a nice, hearty meal before hunkering down to watch even five minutes of the show.

'The Great British Bake Off' (2010 - )

All right, this is another one that demands you have a fulfilling meal and dessert before watching. "The Great British Bake Off" is basically master bakers creating the most melt-in-your-mouth, lip-smacking desserts, pastries, pies, cakes, and anything else loaded with sugar they can think of. Their concoctions are so impressive that the 2015 winner, Nadiya Hussain, made a cake for the Queen of England's 90th birthday. Talk about spectacular work! Worth noting is the fact that since the contestants on the show are, obviously, British, the way they compete with one another is like a study in cultural differences. They're so polite yet so, so mean.

'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' (2013 - )

Are you more of an adventurous eater? Someone who isn't afraid to knock back a couple local delicacies from unfamiliar places? Then "Parts Unknown" is your kind of food show. It follows the renowned chef, author, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain as he travels around the world sampling eats from places you may never have thought to go. From eating the pizza-like pide in Istanbul to going through the cultural practice of erusha in Ethiopia to oyster loading in San Francisco, this show will teach you all about the local foods and customs of the places Bourdain visits. As poet Dylan Thomas wrote, "Do not go gentle into that good night..." of watching "Parts Unknown" without eating a huge meal first.

'Barefoot Contessa' (2002 - )

Prepare yourself, fellow plebeians, because this show is essentially a fascinating case study in the life of the fancy-food-making, extremely classy, home-growing-food chef that is Ina Garten. Sure, when she tells viewers of "Barefoot Contessa" something along the lines of "if you can't pick your own cucumbers at midnight during the full moon of the third month in a lunar year, then store-bought will be fine," she never really means it. So, honestly, it's better for your own well-being if you fill your stomach up before tuning in because otherwise you'll be compelled to try her recipes for yourself. Do you really want your expectations to be extremely, horribly, terribly crushed when your pizza looks nothing like Garten's perfectly picked, piping-hot, pickled-pepper pizza? Not a good look for anyone.

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