Tom Kerridge: ‘January is always a good time for focus’

Set on making a fresh start? The chef has done it, and so can you.

“I have to be honest with you, I have given up a lot,” says two Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge wryly. “It turns out I’m very good at giving up stuff, because I’m also very good at consuming things.”

Five to six years ago the Marlow-based restaurateur went on a major weight loss and fitness journey that left him around 12st lighter, a budding exercise fan and a slip of his former self.

To start with he cut out carbs, began swimming, and stopped drinking. “I have an issue with alcohol, so I was like, ‘I need to stop doing that’,” he recalls, noting that whether you have a problem with alcohol or not, it “is not good for being on a diet,” and not just because “it’s wasted calories and rubbish in carbs and sugars”.

Its biggest impact he explains, is on your mental state. “You need to be quite strong mentally if you are trying to lose weight. The moment you bring alcohol into that diet, that alters your mental state, even just the slightest, and it makes you go, ‘Oh, I could just have the one’, and once you’ve had one you go, ‘Oh I’ll have another one now I’m here’, and then before you know it you’re off down the kebab van.”

The dad-of-one’s new cookbook and accompanying BBC2 series, Lose Weight and Get Fit, is a continuation of the 46-year-old’s mission to be healthier all-round – and while jumping on the ‘new year, new you’ bandwagon come January might feel like a cliché, it makes perfect sense, he says.

“January is always a good time for focus,” he says. “Whether it’s stopping smoking, losing weight, getting fitter – it’s very difficult to do in autumn and winter because the nights get darker, people want comfort food, and it’s not nice to get up to go to the gym because it’s dark at 6am; I get why it doesn’t work then.

“And nobody wants to give stuff up when it’s just before Christmas. There’s plenty of food about, there’s visitors and you’re visiting, and there’s a warmth and generosity that floats about at that time, so the new year is a very good time for fresh starts.”

Just make sure you’re not doing it all on your own. “Lots of other people are doing it,” he notes, “so there’s a lot of other people who can help you from a motivational point of view.” That might be all the encouragement you need to stick with it.

Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge is published by Bloomsbury Absolute, priced £22. Photography Cristian Barnett. Available now.