Jamie Oliver on his new campaign: “We need a sugar tax”

The TV chef says he's sleeping more and drinking less - now he wants you to kick sugar too

He’s been rethinking his alcohol intake as well. “Your average Brit drinks booze. I’m not telling you what to do, but my rhythm now is only to drink at the weekend. It’s about a consciousness and knowing you’re doing something and being more mindful.”

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So he’s dry from Monday to Friday? “Well, I drink on special occasions, or if we’re out. And muggins here was making cocktails this week. I didn’t get pissed but I had a glass. And last night we had a staff party so I probably had a handful. I’m a perfect hypocrite.”

But it’s not all-bad nutrition news at the bar. “Eat nuts!” he urges. “A handful of nuts a day will qualify you for three extra years on the planet! And they make you half as likely to have a heart attack. Feed them to your kids as well. Just get them smashed up in a salad or through some lovely hot rice – it’s easy.”

Which is trademark Jamie – simple, surprising and rather tasty. What else does he think we should eat? “Ok, so… sweet potato. If you swap potatoes for sweet potatoes once a week, bingo bango bongo! Sweet potato is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and it’s a veg, not a starch.

“Eggs are great and you can have them every day. Just don’t go bonkers. Swap them for meat in a meal. We eat so much meat – it’s quite easy for an average Brit to have meat every course of every day, so have an egg instead.

“Grow herbs. Get herbs. Use herbs. There is a surround-sound benefit to herbs. Have them instead of salt. In processed food there’s a load of salt, but in fresh cooking you can replace it with herbs for seasoning.”

And he’s crazy about seaweed. “I thought seaweed was hippy, globetrotting stuff but our ancestors ate seaweed. It’s got a load of iodine and it’s the most nutritious vegetable in the world. I’m saying lose it in a minestrone because that stuff is really, really good for you. It’s like dynamite – fibre, nutrients, all the minerals, aids digestion – unbelievable.”

Dynamite indeed. He may be 40, but Oliver has lost none of his boyish enthusiasm, whether he’s cheerleading for seaweed or campaigning for a Coke tax. Clearly he cares about our children’s health, as well as that of his own. And he’s ready for another round in the ring. What, I wonder, will be his next campaign?

“There’s so much stuff, whether it’s the way we treat old people, old people’s homes, food in hospitals – I haven’t even got there yet!” Which sounds like the beginnings of a campaign on behalf of his new centenarian friends. Watch this space.

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Jamie’s Sugar Rush begins on Channel 4 tonight (Thursday 3rd September) at 9.00pm