Nigella Lawson says cooking for herself was how she preserved her ‘sanity’ during husband’s cancer battle

The British celebrity chef has revealed making her own meals protected her mental health when her first husband, John Diamond was ill

Nigella Lawson on cooking for one: chef says it saved her ‘sanity’ during husband’s cancer battle
(Image credit: Getty)

Nigella Lawson has revealed the self-care technique she 'always' used during her first husband's cancer battle – cooking for one. 

The British celebrity chef has discussed the importance of preparing homemade meals for yourself in a new interview, calling the experience of cooking for one 'wonderful'. 

Speaking to The Australian Women's Weekly, Nigella explained how the simple act of nourishing herself has helped her through some incredibly difficult times – including the oral cancer of her first husband, John Diamond. The Cook, Eat, Repeat author said that she made a special effort to use the kitchen during this upsetting period, despite not being able to share her dishes with the late English journalist. 

The poignant comments come more than two years after Nigella said everyone should be baking in lockdown, hailing the wholesome pastime as a fantastic way to "interrupt anxiety." 

"I've always cooked for myself," the 62-year-old told the Aussie publication. "It was part of holding onto my sanity when my husband couldn't eat because he had oral cancer." 

Diamond, who married Nigella in 1992, passed away from throat cancer in 2001, four years after his diagnosis. He is survived by the couple's two children, Cosima Thomasina, 26, and Bruno Paul, 24. 


Nigella with her late husband, John Diamond 

(Image credit: Getty)

Nigella admitted that she was initially eating convenience foods when her husband was sick, but quickly realized that she needed to keep her passion for cooking alive. 

"At first you go into a thing where you just grab a sandwich, but then I thought, 'No, it's really important to prepare a meal'," she said. 

"People would send messages and say, 'It's so depressing just cooking for myself'. And I tried to say, 'It really shouldn't be depressing. It's the most wonderful thing.'" 

Over twenty years on, home-cooking is still integral to Nigella's overall wellbeing. The award-winning culinary writer explained how making her own food is a huge part of her identity – so much so, that she'll notice if she hasn't done it for a while. 

"It is such an essential part of me," she said. "I find a lot of meaning in it. When I'm away for a long time, it feels odd to not be cooking. I don't know who I am if I'm not involved in that." 

She also said that cooking gives "structure" to her days and "therefore my life", calling it the "cast of my mind."

"It's as natural to me as breathing," she said. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.