Jamie Oliver on the 'biggest thing' that turns people off cooking

Rachel Grumman Bender
Beauty and Style Editor

Chef and author Jamie Oliver knows that many people are trying to get their health — and in some cases, their weight — back on track after the holidays.

“I find that in January people have indulged — I have,” Oliver tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “You feel guilty. You want to start the new year to get healthier, be more optimal, be a better you, maybe lose weight.”

But that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the foods you love. “Ultimately, there’s enough room to enjoy everything that you want to enjoy,” he says. “And that includes a naughty bit of cake.”

Jamie Oliver admits  the amount of ingredients in a recipe is the biggest thing that put people off cooking. Photo: Jamie Oliver/Instagram

As a chef, finding that balance can be particularly challenging, Oliver says. “I love food,” he says. “Healthy food and unhealthy food I love. I think the joy of food is the balance between the two. Trying to get balance in my job is quite tough, because my job is to eat for a living.”

Oliver has made it his mission to help people find that balance and eat healthier, and has even gone back to school to learn about nutrition. “I spent two years going around the world to places where people lived the longest, most productive lives,” he says.

His biggest discovery: “That was just an incredible case for more plants, nuts, seeds, fruits.”

Coupling his knowledge of the benefits of a plant-based diet and people’s desire to eat healthier, Oliver created the Jan-Plan — a free shopping list to make it easier to follow a healthier, more balanced diet.

They’re “some incredible recipes,” he says. “The great thing is, because it’s really pushing plant-based, you’re going to save some money.”


As a working father of five with wife, Juliette Norton, Oliver also understands that making healthy dinners each night often isn’t doable if it’s time-consuming or complicated.

That’s the challenge that inspired Oliver’s most recent book, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. “[It’s] the kind of food I generally cook Monday to Thursday,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Knowing that recipes with long lists of ingredients can put people off, Oliver was committed to keeping things simple.

“It was actually the amount of ingredients that was the biggest thing that put people off cooking, that scared them, that freaked them out. But I think for … busy people that want to eat delicious food that’s not going to freak them out and they can do after work, this is the kind of language that most hard-working people want to know about,” he says, referring to his cookbook.

Oliver adds, “Learning to cook is a freedom. I just think it makes you a better person, really.”

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