5 minutes with Nadia Sawalha, former Eastender, Loose Women panellist and healthy cooking guru

Nadia Sawalha

Nadia Sawalha

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What’s the Splenda Small Steps Campaign all about?

I don’t like diet as a word because it suggests you will come off a diet lifestyle and that means you will go back to the same old habits. I’m all for the small swaps, like [swapping sugar for] Splenda. I eat pork instead of steak, brown rice instead of white and, by making small swaps, you will lose weight, you don’t need to starve yourself. I have a portion control plate too; quarter of protein, quarter of carbs and the other half is veg.

How has your attitude to your body image changed over the years?

Every year that’s gone on, I’ve learnt so much and realised that actually I’ve got a great figure. When I was in my teens, twenties and early thirties it was all about what I’m not and what I couldn’t be and I think a lot of women use that reason not to go for things they want to do in life. They say, ‘If only I was a size eight, or a few stone lighter, I would do this or that...’ I have a great, healthy body, a curvy figure. The kids love to cuddle on it, and men don’t seem averse to it either.

You lost two stone a few years ago. Do you have any tips for someone wanting to lose weight?

Don’t put up a hideous fat photo of yourself or one of a celebrity you’ll never be. Put up one of yourself where you looked really good and you will get back to it. You are the best person to motivate yourself. I’m not supposed to be skinny and there was absolute joy in accepting that. I will now be a size 12 for the rest of my life and I’m really happy with that, it suits my body. If you were an eight without it being angst ridden all the time then you can go back to it. But don’t drive yourself into the ground and get stressed trying to achieve an unrealistic size which won’t last.

Do you think your mental state can affect your physical wellbeing?

I always talk about emotional eating on (ITV morning show) Lorraine. When I stuffed my face with chocolate or had loads of sugar in my tea, I used to do that to shut up the pain I was feeling. So when you are doing that, ask yourself: Are you really hungry - or lonely, sad or angry? I think that you have to be honest with yourself.

Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist?

Thank God, no. I’m not a perfectionist. I’m the most slovenly, lazy person! I think I just had certain ideals. My advice to any new mum is just don’t set things in stone before you have that baby, or about the labour.

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