NADIA Sawalha once had a dream about naan bread... and woke up munching on her duvet.
The Loose Women favourite has openly admitted she was a compulsive over-eater who used to “swallow down” her feelings - but it seems her binge-eating didn't stop when night fell.
It was when the 51-year-old TV star was on the protein-rich, carbohydrate-free Atkins diet that she woke in the middle of the night trying to chew her blanket.
She said: “My greatest passion in life, even above my husband and children, is bread.
“Once when I went on the Atkins diet, I woke up in the middle of the night and I was trying to eat my duvet because I was dreaming it was a naan bread.
“I was genuinely trying to munch into this duvet and I thought: ‘This is ridiculous’.”
Nadia, who has been a member of Overeaters Anonymous for eleven years, said she finally gave up yo-yo dieting after the incident.
Speaking in Dubai, where she was promoting her cookbooks in the annual Festival of Literature, she said: “I don’t believe in diets in how we have come to understand them, which is that you go on them and then come off.
“I dieted my way to obesity. I would go on a diet, lose the weight, put it back on and then a little bit extra for a little bit of fun. It was insane.”
Nadia said she would lie to herself about how much she was eating by skipping meals but then snacking on food with little nutritional value and even deluding herself that the calories did not count.
She said: “I would cook my family a meal and go: ‘I’m not eating, I’m on a diet’.
“Then I’d be washing up and have a bit of bread because it did not count if no one saw it.
“And I would put loads of butter on crumpets but butter it really fast because then it did not count.
“I was a liar and a comfort eater. If I felt sad, angry, lonely or stressed, I did not go to vodka or cigarettes - I would go to food and would be halfway through a loaf of bread and would not know I had been eating.
We call it swallowing down your emotionsNadia S
Nadia said she now had to question herself every time she reached for food about why she was eating.
The Celebrity Masterchef winner went on to lose three and a half stone and is now the author of four cookbooks, including one titled The Greedy Girl’s Diet.
But she admitted she was prone to lapses and while in Dubai, had piled on 3lbs in three days because she could not resist Arabic food.
Nadia, who is half Jordanian and grew up eating Arabic mezze, said: “I cannot say no to this level of bread.
“I had two bread baskets to myself, then the mezze and I think I have put on 3lbs in three days. Being here has been a disaster for me.
“This is my favourite food but I cannot go near a buffet because it is too dangerous.
“I don’t go to buffets because I know I cannot control it. It is too tempting.”
Nadia, who is working on a fifth cookbook, confessed to being a compulsive binge-eater earlier this month on Loose Women.
She said she joined Overeaters Anonymous when she was 40 after struggling to keep up with her two energetic daughters, Maddy and Kiki-Bee.
The actress added: “My extended family are all about emotional eating. It was not until I was older that I thought there was anything unhealthy about the way I was eating.”
She compared overeating to an addiction like alcohol or cigarettes but added those afflicted did not get the same empathy as other addictions.
Nadia said: “An alcoholic would get more understanding than a food addict.”
The TV presenter thinks being deprived of sweets as a child might have contributed to her attitude toward ‘forbidden’ food.
She and her actress sister Julia would steal money from their father’s pockets to spend on sweets and ice-cream after their mother said they were poisonous and banned them.
Nadia also admitted lying in her cookbooks when urging readers to eat oily fish or give their children vegetables: “I always put it in my books - try to have oily fish once a week.
"Well, I won’t. I hate it and just pretend to eat oily fish.”
She added that a number of Loose Women viewers had contacted her after an on-screen confession that she had stored a miscarried foetus in her freezer - admitting they had done the same thing.
Nadia added: “I was completely healed by my second pregnancy.”