London: Want to get rid of your flab? Just chew each mouthful for 30 seconds!
Fighting the flab might not be down to what you eat, but how you eat it, according to new research.
Scientists say the secret to beating a bulging seasonal waistline is to chew your food for 30 seconds before swallowing.
Research shows this has a powerful effect on appetite, as it curbs the desire for the chocolates, sweets and snacks that can pile on the pounds.
Volunteers who chewed their lunch in this way during a study carried out by psychologists at the University of Birmingham, ate half as many snacks in the afternoon as those who ate normally.
Although previous studies have shown chewing for longer curbs calorie intake during a meal, researchers wanted to assess how chewing for longer at lunchtime affected "grazing" habits later in the day.
They recruited 43 students, mostly female, and asked them to refrain from eating for two hours before the test. Each student was then presented with a plate of smoked ham and cheese sandwiches, all identical in size and shape.
A third of the students were told to eat as they normally would, another third to pause for ten seconds between swallowing each mouthful and the last group to chew each bite for 30 seconds before swallowing.
Two hours after the experiment, the students were handed a small bowl of Skittles - chewy, fruit flavoured sweets - and a bowl of Minstrels, the candy-coated chocolate treats.
The results showed students who ate at their normal speed and those who stopped for ten seconds between bites ate the same amount of sweets.
However, those who chewed each mouthful of lunch for 30 seconds ate half as many.
"Participants in the prolonged chewing group were less happy after lunch and had reduced ratings of lunch enjoyment, and pleasantness of the texture of lunch, compared with others," researchers said.
"These effects may be due to the novelty of prolonged chewing, or reduced palatability of the food," they said.
One reason it works may be that, by concentrating so much on the process of eating, the brain "remembers" lunch for longer and is less likely to signal the need for more food so soon afterwards, the report said.