Nigella Lawson: “Women should eat what they want. Not what they think they should.”

Nigella Lawson may have confessed her love for Vegemite on MasterChef last night (how very un-British of her) but she also dished out some sage advice about body image and food, including that she wore a stretchy dress so she could feel good while still eating up while on the show (we’re taking note…)

The all-round domestic and feminist goddess also brought her exquisite self into the Mamamia offices to talk to Mia Freedman about food, pleasure and freedom.

And her mantra? Eat what you want. It’s an act of self-kindness.

Food rules, she says, are where the self-loathing starts.

“People who want cheese cake after every meal, it’s because they tell themselves they shouldn’t eat cheesecake,” Nigella told Mia.

“But if you tell yourself you can have cheesecake whenever you want it, you just eat it when you think it’s right.”

Listen to the full interview, where Nigella talks about how nursing her first, late husband to his death from cancer taught her the importance of looking after her own happiness, here:

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“I always try to order want I want to eat, rather than what I feel I ought to eat, because I think that’s where trouble starts. And sometimes, it might be…  I just want a really good plate of chips.”

It’s been said before, but Nigella is a big believer that for most of us, restrictive diets don’t work.

“I think that within each diet there is a grain of sense… But it’s very difficult for all of us not to carry things a bit too far, which becomes unhelpful.

“From a strong feminist case has always been made that there’s a constant trend for women to take up less space in the world… that’s the obsession with thinness.

Nigella Lawson interview
Nigella Lawson with Mia Freedman in the Mamamia offices.

And as for clean-eating… well.

“Calling it clean-eating implies that everything else is dirty and shameful. And I think food-shaming is pernicious.”

“People are frightened of food and they are frightened of flesh.”

If you are someone who need rules and boundaries, then you might like starting a new diet each week.

“A lot of diets are about control,” says Nigella. “My witty friend says, ‘I feel so much better in prison,” as a joke because she needs the rules.

“Whereas I’m someone who even if I make up the rules, I hate authority such a lot I rebel against them and I am better without rules.

“I prefer to concentrate on what I add to my diet, rather than what I take away, and that seems a much happier way of looking at it.

“I have to have something proper for dinner, something that gives me pleasure.

“It’s  an essential act of kindness towards yourself.”

So, be like Nigella. Eat what you like. Like what you eat. And only play by the rules if it suits you.

Do diets work for you? 

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