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Nigella Lawson reveals heartbreaking reason behind her passion for food

The celebrity chef won't punish herself for enjoying a sweet treat

Jenni McKnight

Nigella Lawson has revealed the heartbreaking reason behind her love of food – and why she won't punish herself for indulging in sweet treats.

The 60-year-old chef confessed that following her mother's death in 1985, she refused to let herself feel guilty about enjoying food after watching her mum deny herself anything sweet until just two weeks before her death.

MORE: Nigella Lawson's incredible home kitchen revealed

Nigella's mum, Vanessa, would often bake delicious treats but refused to eat them. She died at the age of 48 after a battle with liver cancer and only allowed herself to take "unmitigated pleasure in food" after she found out her cancer was terminal.

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WATCH: Indulge yourself with this simple gluten-free brownie recipe 

Writing in her new book Cook, Eat Repeat, Nigella explained: "I was brought up by a mother - the cook I have learned most from - whose grimly exuberant output in the kitchen was set in painfully sharp relief, and indeed fostered, by an expanding pattern of self-denial and self-punishment; not an uncommon syndrome, incidentally.

"Diagnosed with terminal cancer two weeks before her death, she started eating - for the first time, she said giddily - without worry or guilt. 

READ: Nigella Lawson shares genius hacks for baking the perfect chocolate cake

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Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson, £16.95, Amazon

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"How unbearably sad to allow yourself unmitigated pleasure in food only when you receive a terminal diagnosis. I want to maximise my enjoyment, not just eat for the sake of it. When I eat chocolate I linger over each square, deciding which I will let melt slowly in my mouth."

Last month, Nigella made a surprising confession about her career, revealing she found filming her new cooking series Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat, "very draining" and "a bit frightening" at times.

"The harder part is the filming," she told Good Housekeeping. "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."

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