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Do let me be the first to give you a handy tip for battling the bulge over Christmas 2013 – chewing.

If only those of you who piled on the pounds this festive season had known that chewing each mouthful of your Christmas lunch 30 times before swallowing would suppress your appetite for the rest of the day.

A recent study by psychologists at the Univer-

sity of Birmingham showed that ‘ chewers’ ate less calories than ‘non-chewers’.

In the 1940s my dad was sent to live with his Victorian maiden aunt.

Strait-laced, with long black rustling taffeta frocks, his aunt felt it was her duty to save her nephew’s soul and stomach.

Bible readings at every meal time, and then every mouthful of food had to be chewed 26 times before swallowing.

Dad never suffered digestive problems, ever.