The British chef says losing weight shouldn't be a compliment

By Michelle Ward Trainor
Updated December 09, 2015 04:05 PM
Credit: Phillip Massey/GC Images

Nigella Lawson continues her crusade against the term ‘clean eating.’

The British chef, who previously told the BBC she thinks “the notion of ‘clean eating’ is an implication that any other form of eating is dirty or shameful,” is again criticizing the diet book buzz word.

“People are using certain diets as a way to hide an eating disorder or a great sense of unhappiness with their own body,” she said at the JW3 Speaker Series in London earlier this week. “There is a way in which food is 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 what you want.”

Lawson, whose new book Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food features healthy and hearty recipes like sweet potato macaroni and cheese and watercress and pumpkin seed salad, also believes weight loss should not be taken as a compliment.

“When women say ‘you have lost weight,’ that is not a good thing,” she said on Ireland’s The Late Late Show last week. “Generally I think it’s not good if it’s thought that being thinner is always better, and then what happens as a result of that is that somehow you’re a better person. We’ve been reading about all this fat-shaming that’s been going on. What’s important is that you’re healthy and you’re fully embracing life. If you are naturally thin that’s fantastic – but if you have to starve yourself to get thin, it is not good to encourage people to be that shape.”

She added: “I think my views are slightly different because I’ve seen people get very ill and very thin so I don’t equate thinness with healthiness, so I think what looks healthy is when people have a bit of juice to them.”

The topic is very personal to Lawson who only “later on” realized her mom had an eating disorder after her death at the age of 48. “I kind of put two and two together. I knew she had a thing about thinness but I worked it out later,” she said. “When she was dying she allowed herself to eat. To wait until you’ve got a terminal disease to enjoy eating is an awful thing.”

And when it come to Lawson’s food philosophy, it’s about enjoying not overindulging. “There are times when you need a slice of cake,” she said. “You don’t eat it every day but life has to be balanced and not too restricted.”