Have you ever lost a piece of toast?
It's a mystery that has often befallen me. I'm chomping happily on my Vegemite delight and reach out for the next piece only to find an empty space where luscious crunchiness should be. I take my eyes off the computer screen/TV/road ahead for a moment to look and there's nothing there. Gutted. Robbed. Outraged....I WANT MY TOOOAST MUMMY!
Then comes the moment of horrible realisation: the toast isn't there because I've already eaten it. Stuffed it in, chomped it up and swallowed, without really registering the process.
This, my friends, is what they call "mindless eating", and if I want to lose weight - and keep it off - it is something I absolutely have to train myself NOT to do.
It's the guiding inspiration behind that classic piece of dieting advice: never eat standing up. Add to that: never eat while reading the paper, watching TV, driving, downloading music you haven't heard since 1989 or writing a blog.
Or, to put it simply, when you eat - eat. Don't treat it as a subsidiary activity that can be bolted onto any other. Respect it and give it your full attention. Otherwise you will eat a lot of food without really noticing you are doing it - and you will get fat without even having enjoyed the benefit of the yummy food, which is robbing yourself twice.
And if you like food - it seems such a waste not to savour it.
I'm always struck by this thought when I watch Joseph's labrador, Morris, have his dinner. Like all of his breed, Morris lives for food. All right, food and sticks, but mainly food. Every crumb of edible matter that is touched by human hand in that house is followed by Morris's agonised gaze.
Don't forget me! I like food! Look, I'm wagging my tail! Please? Just one little bit? I'll be good forever!
It breaks your heart.
Then comes the big moment: dinner time.
Down goes the bowl, down goes Morris's head and, within milliseconds, it's gone. He doesn't so much as inhale. Then he's back on patrol in the kitchen in case someone drops an apple pip.
"Morris, my boy," I want to say to him, "take time to enjoy your food - look at it, smell it, savour each mouthful, make it last." But it's no good: he's got to eat it as quickly as possible in case another dog steals it.
Which is exactly why I used to eat like a labrador. If I didn't clear my plate quickly as a child, my big brother would help me out. So I learned to stuff my dinner in fast, like Morris, and the habit stuck into adulthood.
Until now. I have actively retrained myself and here's the secret: put your knife and fork down after every mouthful. Take time to taste what you're eating, chew slowly, and don't pick your cultery up again until you're swallowed.
Now I have learned it is a much more enjoyable experience to sit back in my chair while I eat, look around the room, take in the scene. Breathe out occasionally.
Eating this way, I also become aware of getting full as I go and hope to never again find myself transformed into a human Zeppelin.
(That's the feeling, five minutes after leaving the table, that you have been forcibly inflated to bursting point.)
We were on safari in Kenya in December 2006 and came across these lions devouring an animal. We were quite close....it was an amazing experience.