"I love food and I love eating," says Nigella Lawson, "and I've chosen that rather than deprivation and skinniness." With that philosophy, the 42-year-old cookbook author (How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
) has won the allegiance of foodophiles both abroad and stateside. Indeed, the 5'7" host of Britain's hugely popular Nigella Bites
(the show airs here on the E! and Style networks) "has a proper woman's body," says her brother Dominic, 45, editor of The Sunday Telegraph
. "She is not a model. She is 100 percent woman." A widow since March 2001, when her journalist husband, John Diamond, died of throat cancer (she now dates advertising big Charles Saatchi, 58), Lawson films Bites in the West London home she shares with daughter Cosima, 8, and son Bruno, 5. Though she says she will occasionally submit to the Atkins diet "to get back to fighting weight," she cheerfully adds, "Then I let it go up again!" Lawson is as laissez-faire about beauty products as she is about the scale. "Every now and then I realize I could grate Parmesan with my elbows, so I put Eve Lom cleanser on," she says. "But I'm not very good at doing anything regularly."