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Exclusive: Nadiya Hussain on why she’s stopped striving to be happy all the time

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Chloe Gray
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Nadiya Hussain

Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will the cook and writer Nadiya Hussain make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Not striving to be happy all the time. People say we should find happiness in everything, but there’s good in the bad.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

As a kid you get taught, ‘This is right and that is wrong’, but when you’re older, you have to weigh it up more. What’s right for you isn’t right for someone else and what is wrong to you might not be wrong to someone else.

Where is your happy place?

My house. These days, social media means you can allow anybody in your house, in any room, in any part of your life. But for me, my house is where I put my phone away. That’s it, done.

Nature or nurture?

I believe in both, but nurture is so important, and I say that as a mum. It’s not just about physically feeding and keeping children alive, it’s what you say to them, how you raise them and what you do to make them the people that they are.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

I don’t think it’s important to be liked or respected. If you don’t like or respect yourself, there’s no point in either, is there?

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

I don’t particularly want to be remembered. Give someone else their turn, I reckon.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Apart from my husband? Marmite crisps. I dream about them. Once I’ve got a packet of Marmite crisps in my hands, I’m like Homer Simpson – I could be watching anything, I could be with anyone.

When did you last lie?

I lie every day. I have to lie to my kids sometimes, like, “Mummy’s going to be right back”. My boys don’t care so much about that but sometimes I have to pander to my little girl because she doesn’t really understand the concept of time.

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Listen to Nadiya Hussain share the advice she wishes she could tell her younger self at Stylist Live Luxe

Does the supernatural exist?

Yes. I’ve definitely seen a ghost. Our village in Bangladesh is haunted by a little boy so we’re always on the lookout for him.

Are you fatalistic?

Because I suffer with anxiety, everything leads to death. I always go to the worst case scenario. But I’m getting better.

What is your greatest fear?

Probably dying. See, fatalistic. Told you. That and crows.

Animals or babies?

Animals. There was a point in my life when it would have been babies but now I’ve lost the patience for them.

What talent do you yearn for?

I’d love to be able to dance. My little girl is so good at dancing. But me, I’ve got two left feet.

Do you like to be complimented?

I hate it. I never know where to look or what to do. I tell my husband not to ever say nice things to me.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I thought I did, but then 72 hours into labour with my son I said, “Give me all the drugs”.

What book do you recommend most to others?

A kids’ picture book called Some Dogs Do by Jez Alborough. When my children are feeling down, we always read it. It’s about a dog that flies and it’s the most uplifting book. Each of my kids has their own copy.

Feeling down? Nadiya recommends uplifting kids' book Some Dogs Do.
Feeling down? Nadiya recommends uplifting kids' book Some Dogs Do.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

To trust yourself. I still don’t. I’m still learning.

What food sums up happiness?

Marmite crisps? No. Cheese – sliced, grated, baked, fried. I like baking and giving cake, too.

What have you never understood?

My parents. I still have no answers. Thirty-four years later, I still do not understand them.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

If there’s an afterlife. Then I’ll know if it’s all been worth it.

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Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

It’s inevitable, and that’s something we talk about openly with our kids. Fingers crossed if there’s a great place out there, I might make it in.

Quinoa or Quavers? Quinoa?

[Wrinkles her face] Quavers, definitely.

Nadiya is an ambassador for Swarovski’s #SparkDelight campaign celebrating female empowerment. Her book, Finding My Voice (£20, Headline Home) is out now; Nadiya will be at Stylist Live LUXE on Friday 8 November; live.stylist.co.uk

Images: Provided -Jewellery: necklace, £169, and earring, £59, both Swarovski (swarovski.com), Instagram


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Chloe Gray

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