Nigella Lawson‘s latest recipe book has taken a slightly more health-conscious turn, but let’s get one thing straight: she’s not a fan of dieting.
Even the term “clean eating” — you know, the one that always appears in hashtag form beneath Instagram photos of kale smoothies and salads — doesn’t sit right with her.
“I don’t like the term because I hate the implication that the other food is dirty and therefore something to be ashamed of,” the English chef tells the latest edition of Sunday Style.
In the interview, Lawson also shares her concern about our culture’s “fixation” with thinness. It’s something she observes among friends and acquaintances, and the example she uses to illustrate her point one we’ve all borne witness to — or done ourselves.
“When people come over to my house for supper, I would never expect anyone to eat something sweet if they didn’t want to, but I’ve noticed how all the people who say, ‘Oh no, nothing for me’ – and, sadly, this is nearly always women – get a fork out and start picking at the cake,” she says. (See Lawson chat with Mamamia co-founder, Mia. Post continues after video.)
“In the end, they’ve eaten much more than everyone else! So, the thing is, if I feel like chocolate cake, I’ll have a slice.”
Lawson, whose new cookbook Simply Nigella has recently hit stores, believes her positive, realistic attitude to food and “living well” was largely influenced by her mother’s experience with an eating disorder.
“I felt very strongly that I was not going to be tyrannised in that way. Also, if you’ve known three people you love very much die of cancer, you do not equate extreme thinness with healthiness,” the mum of two says.
“I have an emotional relationship to food, but I don’t use food as emotional ballast. If something isn’t right, you can’t make it right with food, but certainly it improves the quality of my life to eat well.” (Post continues after gallery.)
While she’s not an advocate of dieting, the 55-year-old has been making an effort to look after her health by eating a well-balanced diet and practising ” a rather slow form of yoga” called Iyengar.
“I wouldn’t want a life where I lived on chia seed pudding, just as I wouldn’t want a life where I lived on eggs Benedict or steak and chips,” she told Good Housekeeping magazine last month.
“I love kale and I’m an avocado obsessive. But life is about balance, it’s not about being smug. You don’t eat things because you think they’re good for you.”
Although she’s looking svelte lately — “I feel like I haven’t lost weight, but I’m possibly in better shape,” as she put it in Good Housekeeping — Lawson explains her motivation hasn’t been aesthetically-driven.
“I’m my children’s only parent, I’m getting older and being healthy is important to me,” she explains to Sunday Style.
“Feeling that I should be in a smaller dress size would involve going against my nature in the sense of what my physique is. I would have to undereat and I think that’s incredibly bad for you.”
As if we couldn't possibly love this woman and her life philosophies more, Lawson also refuses to buy into the narrative that growing older is something to be feared and disguised.
“I never lie about my age,” she says.
“My mother died at 48, my sister died at 31, my first husband died at 47. So, when people can’t get old, that’s the tragedy. The notion that somehow getting older is a bad thing is really strange to me, because the alternative is worse.”
What's your favourite Nigella Lawson recipe?