Nigella Lawson: Why I never take my own health for granted


Nigella Lawson has said she has never taken her own health for granted after the early deaths of her mother, sister and husband.

The TV cook and food writer, who celebrated her 60th birthday in January, said she refuses to dwell on her age as long as she remains fit and healthy.

Lawson’s mother, Vanessa Salmon, died in 1985 from liver cancer at the age of 48.

Her sister, Thomasina, died in 1993 from breast cancer at the age of 32, and her husband, writer John Diamond, died in 2001 from throat cancer, aged 47.

Speaking to Good Housekeeping magazine about reaching six decades, Lawson said: “I’m not a planner – apart from when it comes to food.

“But, to be completely honest, I’ve never been able to take for granted that I’d be alive by this age.

“My mother died at 48 and my sister at 32. And then John at 47.

“So, even if I were the sort of person who planned ahead, I don’t think I would have seen myself here … I kind of think you can’t do anything about it so why complain?

“I also know what the alternative is, so it feels wrong when you’ve been surrounded by people who have died young to say ‘My hair’s awful, I’ve got to get my roots done’ or ‘My hands look like lizards’.

“So I don’t dwell on it. As long as you’re healthy, that really is the most important thing.”

Billy Elliot Diamond & Lawson
Billy Elliot Diamond & Lawson

Lawson told the magazine she finds long periods of filming for TV draining.

Speaking about her work/life balance, she said: “I don’t know what this famed balance is. I love what I do, but everything is interspersed with bits of solitude, so maybe that is my balance.

“The harder part is the filming. It’s physically very draining, standing up all day for seven weeks or so, and there isn’t really room for anything else during that time.

“It’s a bit frightening and I always think ‘I don’t know if I can do this again’, but then I start and I get excited again.”

However, she said she still enjoys the filming process and feels lucky to have helped connect people through food during the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “There are days when I think ‘Oh my gosh, I could lie down all day’, but I enjoy it because I feel like myself when I’m cooking and writing.

“And I feel very lucky for the connection it gives me to other people.

“That came to the fore during lockdown, when I started helping people with their evening meals on Twitter.

“It was odd because I was living remotely, but feeling much more connected.”

– Read the full interview in the December issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale on October 28.