One of the key tools that helps people lose weight and keep it off for good is slow eating.

You've probably heard it before but it's worth repeating because we forget to do it a lot of the time.

The main purpose of slow eating is to help you to eat less. It may also be beneficial for your digestion but that is not my main concern here.

Slow eating is particularly useful under two circumstances.

Firstly, when you've allowed yourself to get too hungry, the temptation is to eat very quickly.

But it is worth remembering it takes your brain a full 20 minutes to register that the stomach is getting full.

If you eat quickly, you can stuff in quite a lot in that time so it is better to train yourself to eat very slowly.

The second occasion when slow eating is a saviour is during social eating when you're sitting in front of food in company for a very long time.

If you eat fast, you'll be tempted to have seconds and thirds while your slimline neighbours daintily get through one third of the amount.

The time to practise slow eating is when you're on your own. Follow this exercise to demonstrate to yourself how fast you normally eat.

Next time you have a meal, divide your main course into two. Eat one half as you always would.

Now eat the second half using two basic, slow eating rules: Knife and fork down between each bite and chew and swallow each bite before you put the next in your mouth.

Was there a big difference? Now work on doing this for your whole meal, every meal.

Here is a list of other tips on how to eat very slowly:

Only fill your fork for the next mouthful once you've swallowed the last one.

Put on to your fork smaller amounts than you are used to.

Chew more times than you are used to. If you're eating finger food, such as a sandwich, put it back on the plate between bites.

If you're eating a biscuit or a chocolate, train yourself to nibble it so it lasts a long time.

Consciously develop your conversation skills if you're eating in company.

Ask questions of others around you and stop eating while you listen to the answers.

Try to work out a description (using as many adjectives as possible) in your mind for each food that you're eating. Think about texture, smell and taste.

Watch how thin people eat.

Put some beautiful, slow music on inside your head - or for real - and chew slowly in time to that music.

Take a sip of water between each mouthful.

Use a teaspoon for deserts and cereals.

Watch yourself in a mirror while you eat.

It takes a lot of practice and self-awareness but it's definitely worth it and with all those tips, you'll be able to bid farewell to seconds in seconds.

Weight-watching is written by Dr Judy Citron. You can get support Judy and her team of DietCoaches by joining her telephone weight-loss classes, right from your own home. "You lose weight and you're not on a diet. It's amazing."

Call free for more information on 0800 074 0260 or visit the web site at