Nigella Lawson's awesome defence of 'dirty, shameful' foods


Nigella Lawson isn’t interested in “clean eating”.

The celebrity cook is out promoting her latest book, Simply Nigella, and says clean eating is a mask for eating disorders.

“People are using certain diets as a way to hide an eating disorder or a great sense of unhappiness and unease with their own body,” she said at a recent speaking event in London.

“Clean eating” is a diet trend that encourages eating unprocessed foods, and is linked with other food trends like cutting out sugar and paleo diets.

It’s synonymous with “superfoods” and #fitspo posts on Instagram, and has been widely adopted among health and fitness communities.

It is also widely mocked.

Lawson’s latest cookbook is based around the idea of “feel good food” and she says how clean eating makes people feel about food is one of her biggest concerns.

She says talking about some foods as “clean” made others appear to be “dirty” or “shameful”.

“There is a way in which food is being used to either self-congratulate; you’re a better person because you’re eating like that, or to self-persecute, because you’ll not allow yourself to eat the foods you want to eat,” she said.


This is not the first time Lawson has criticised the trend. In an interview with the BBC in October, she said she didn’t like extremes.

“I think that food should not be used as a way of persecuting oneself and I think really one should look to get pleasure about what’s good rather than either think ‘Oh no, that’s dirty, bad or sinful’ or ‘eating is virtuous’.”

Last week she told Ireland’s The Late Late Show the important thing was that people were “healthy and enjoying life”.

She said her mother had an eating disorder, and had only begun to enjoy food once she was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

“When she was dying she allowed herself to eat. To wait until you have a terminal disease to enjoy eating is awful.”

Lawson’s mother died of cancer in 1985.

“If you are naturally thin that’s fantastic – but if you have to starve yourself, it is not good.”

Hopefully, when she’s in Australia in January we can get to see her “day on a plate“. It doesn’t sound like activated almonds will make the cut.