Share

cover art for Grace Dent on balancing a Gen X body image with eating for a living

The Shift with Sam Baker

Grace Dent on balancing a Gen X body image with eating for a living

Season 12, Ep. 154

Today’s guest and I have lived parallel-ish lives. Growing up “ordinary” her in the north, me in the south, Grace Dent and I both spent our childhood eating baked beans, angel delight and funny coloured school custard, we both “thought we were IT” apparently and we both got our first break on the weekly real life magazine, Chat and somehow wangled our way into glossy magazines. But there our paths diverged because Grace Dent went on to become “one of the nation’s best loved food writers” quote unquote and the woman who brought true potato love to Masterchef.


As well as being a Masterchef regular, she is the guardian’s restaurant critic, fortnum restaurant writer of the year, host of the Comfort Eating podcast and the author of two memoirs, the bestselling Hungry, and now Comfort Eating, about what we eat when no-one’s looking. It would be understating it to say I over-identified.


Grace joined me to talk about how the hell of secondary school never leaves you, deciding it was time to get sober, balancing her problematic gen x body image with eating for a living, why she moved home in her 40s to care for her mum and dad and The actual crime of being 50


If you enjoyed this episode you might also like my conversations with Kate Spicer and Marina Hyde. Find out more about Grace’s podcast, Comfort Eating with Grace Dent here.


* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including Comfort Eating by Grace Dent, and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.


* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com


The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 176. Karyn McCluskey on menopause, paying it forward & being the only woman in the room

    54:57
    Regular listeners have probably noticed that I’m trying a few different things with this series. I wanted to hear more women’s voices, with more varied experiences and today’s guest is one of those! I first met Karyn McCluskey 12 years ago when I was editor of Red magazine and we gave her a woman of the year award for her role in reducing gang violence by 50% in Glasgow, formerly known as the murder capital of Europe. In large part, thanks to Karyn, Glasgow became one of the safest cities in the UK. Karyn has been advocating for a more enlightened and empathetic approach to violent crime for most of her career. She became a nurse at 17 before training as forensic psychologist, and then joined the police where she has worked - extremely successfully - to bring a public health approach to violence reduction. All this while being a single parent. I met Karyn at her office, off a busy road on the outskirts of Edinburgh, as you’ll hear!, where she is now Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland to talk about constantly being the only woman in the room, breastfeeding in the police car park, and how she’s avoided vicarious trauma. We also discussed why she was “slightly terrified of the menopause” (no not Glasgow knife gangs, menopause…), why parenting is just an exercise guilt, high heels, HRT and why her mantra is “feel bad move on”CW there is discussion of violence, sexual abuse and domestic violence• If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like my chats with Nicola Sturgeon and Val McDermid.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including Annie's new book, The Mess We're In and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* If you enjoyed this episode and you fancy buying me a coffee, pop over to my page on buymeacoffee.com• And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 175. Annie Macmanus on rebuilding her identity at 45

    56:02
    Last time Annie Macmanus came on The Shift she was about to make a MASSIVE change. Then, in her early 40s, one of the country’s biggest female DJs was on the brink of walking away. The prescribed way of doing things - climbing, climbing, climbing, until you were Johnny Big Balls, as she put it, was not for her. She, like so many women at this life stage, wanted to find a new way, to build her own decks.Since then Annie, now 45, has written two novels, the latest of which is The mess we’re in, out now in paperback, helmed two hit podcasts and launched the so-fabulous-I-can’t-believe-nobody-thought of it-before club night, Before Midnight. Aimed at those of us who love to dance but don’t want to stay up til 3am to do it.Annie joined me for one of those conversations that goes to all the places. We discussed the emotional upheaval of leaving a big job after 17 years and how she rediscovered who she was when she wasn’t on the radio. Plus the loneliness of working from home, the hormonal chaos of perimenopause, the scary urge to “set fire to something”, making new friends in your 40s, getting back on the football pitch and leaning into who she really is now she no longer has to waste time getting manicures!You can read Annie's piece on the shock of realising she was lonely here. • If you loved this episode, you might also like my earlier conversation with Annie where she talks about reaching the decision to leave Radio 1, and my chats with Jo Whiley and DJ Paulette.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including Annie's new book, The Mess We're In and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* If you enjoyed this episode and you fancy buying me a coffee, pop over to my page on buymeacoffee.com• And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 174. Lucinda Chambers: the former Vogue fashion director gives us a midlife style masterclass

    46:20
    My guest today is a woman whose style I have admired for a very long time.To quote the fashion journalist Jess Cartner-Morley, fashion director, stylist and curator Lucinda Chambers has the kind of style you just can’t buy. And, like many other women, I’ve certainly tried. Lucinda has worked in the fashion industry for more than three decades. For 25 years she was fashion director of British Vogue, as well as creative consultant to brands ranging from Prada and Marni to H&M and River Island. Five years ago, she left Vogue in the kind of blaze that will be familiar to many midlife women who intentionally or otherwise put a bomb under everything. She went on to co-found Collagerie, a digital platform that curates, frankly, lovely things that range in price from the very affordable to the very much not. TBH I took one look at Collagerie’s site and practically handed over the keys to my bank account.Lucinda joined me from her beautiful toasty TV room to tell me why being pushed out of Vogue was a blessing and the joy of embracing BIG change in her 50s. We also discussed the difference between drive and ambition, why you can’t be stylish if you’re not comfortable and how to put some colour confidence in your wardrobe.• If you loved this episode, you might also like my conversations with India Knight and Times Fashion Director Anna Murphy. * You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 173. Bryony Gordon on burnout, binge eating and perimenopause

    46:26
    Today I’m delighted to welcome back one of The Shift’s very first guests, journalist and mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon.Bryony has been a columnist on the Telegraph for over 20 years and for ten of those she has been writing candidly about her own experiences of addiction and mental illness. She is the best selling author of Mad Girl and The Wrong Knickers and in 2016 she founded Mental Health Mates a global peer support network that encourages people with mental health issues to connect, for which she has won several awards. She also, FWIW, ran the London marathon in her knickers. Three years after her first visit to The Shift, Bryony is back - older, wiser (yes really) - and with a new book, the pertinently titled, Mad Woman, which discusses her struggles with burnout, binge eating and, yep, you guessed it, fluctuating hormones.Bryony joined me from bed in south London to talk about maintaining a public facade when you’re privately falling apart, finally learning to feed herself properly at 43, discovering all the women in her family went into menopause in their early 40s, why she’s done with feeling like she’s the problem and how Davina McCall saved her life!If you'd like to sponsor Bryony's Big Challenge, you can find out more here. • If you loved this episode, you might also like my conversations with Sharon Blackie and Ruby Wax.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including Mad Woman by Bryony Gordon and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 172. Jennifer Clement on women, art, creativity & why we love Frida Kahlo

    41:00
    My guest today has lived, well, a life like no other. The writer Jennifer Clement grew up in 1960s Mexico, at the tail end of the Mexican Golden Age, next door to the former home and extended family of seminal artist Frida Kahlo. As a teenager she moved to New York, where she inhabited the artistic downtown world of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. She was - and still is - a magnet for the creative and surreal.But Mexico had her heart. Since returning to Mexico City, she has written many books, including the cult classic Widow Basquiat and Prayers for the Stolen which became an award-winning Netflix film. Jennifer was also the first and only woman president of the writers human rights organisation PEN International in its 100+ year history.In her memoir, The Promised Party, Jennifer looks back at an extraordinary youth spent with artists and revolutionaries, and examines the way it shaped her.Jennifer joined me from her home in Mexico City to talk about playing in Frida Kahlo’s bathtub and why Kahlo’s art speaks to so many women, why so much women’s art is still sidelined, and how she developed a passion ethic not a work ethic. We also discussed rebellion, running away, the power of girlfriends, how acting on dreams can change your life and why her mother has been taking HRT for 50 (yes five oh) yearsIf you loved this episode, you might also like my conversations with Isabel Allende and Esther Freud.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including The Promised Party by Jennifer Clemenet and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 171. DJ paulette: how perimeno knocked her sideways at 39 (39!)

    45:30
    My guest today is a true trailblazer. If you’ve ever been a clubber, DJ Paulette will need zero introduction. If you haven’t, well, all you really need to know is she has been breaking barriers since day one. One of the Hacienda’s first female DJs, she became a stalwart of the Manchester music scene in the 90s, before being catapulted to stardom playing crowds of tens of thousands all over the world. All this in a world that’s a notorious boys club; where women famously have to do it backwards in high heels. And as a black queer woman she’s had to do triple back flips as well, just to get a fraction of the recognition.In November 2022 she became the first female of colour to win DJ Magazine’s lifetime achievement award, amongst an all-male roll-call. (Surprise!)Now she’s reliving those years in her first book. Welcome to The Club - the life and lessons of a black woman DJ, discusses the highs and lows, the sexism, racism and ageism, she’s navigated throughout her 30 year career.Paulette joined me from Manchester to talk about how perimenopause knocked her sideways at 39. 39! Being told no-one would book her bc she was too old at 41. The career-kids conundrum. Back fat, underarm vaginas & a kangaroo pouch. Being older at 24 than 54. And why she will never stop sticking her neck out. If you loved this episode, you might also like my conversations with Annie Macmanus and Karen Arthur.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on Bookshop.org, including Welcome to the Club by DJ Paulette and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 170. Delia Ephron on getting a second chance at love in your 70s - THE SHIFT REVISITED

    44:56
    For the last of our January archive episodes, we're revisiting an emotional and uplifting chat with screenwriter Delia Ephron. Next week, we're back with a brand new season of The Shift with Sam Baker.---My final guest of the season is the acclaimed screenwriter and bestselling author, Delia Ephron. Unfailingly wise, warm and witty, Delia is perhaps best known as co-writer of the Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks smash hit You’ve Got Mail, with her sister, the writer and director Nora Ephron,.Delia’s new memoir, Left On Tenth, is the kind of story that would out-rom if not out-com - anything Nora could have come up with. Except… every word is true.At 72, Delia found herself quite literally left on Tenth street in Manhattan, when her husband of 37 years, Jerry, died of cancer, just three years after the death of her beloved big sister Nora. A year later Delia reconnected with Peter, a man she didn’t even remember dating in college. It was love at second sight. But that was only the start of the story. Because just four months later, Delia was diagnosed with the same cancer that killed her sister.Now 77, and recovering from a successful bone marrow transplant, Delia joined me from California to talk about getting a second chance at life and love in your 70s, the imperfection of sisterhood, being a lifelong worrier, why friendship is her superpower and shy she's addicted to blow dries (and pastries!). Oh, and, “if someone wants to crush your dreams with their big fat foot get out!”. You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including Left On Tenth by Delia Ephron and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 169. Julia Cameron believes creativity is the answer, whatever the question - THE SHIFT REVISITED

    36:46
    Been meaning to get going on those Morning Pages since forever? Well, as part of our January motivation series, this week we're revisiting my fascinating conversation with the woman who brought us The Artist's Way.---My guest today is the author of the cult bestseller The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron. Part book, part tool-kit, part spiritual guide, The Artists Way has sold over 4 million copies globally and has inspired countless artists, writers, and creatives including Elizabeth Gilbert, Alicia Keyes, Pete Townshend and many more.In the 30 years since that was published, Julia has written a movie, 7 plays and 23 books, including her memoir Floor Sample. Written in her late 50s she looked back over the first half(ish) of her life: her catholic education, alcoholism and drug abuse, her brief marriage to director Martin Scorsese, and her subsequent search for meaning, for herself, for home, ultimately for a way to be comfortably sober.Speaking from her home in Santa Fe, Julia shared her incredible journey from “just a girl” at Catholic school to The Artists Way by way of leaving Washington a writer and landing in Hollywood a wife. She spoke candidly about losing the love of her life, getting and staying sober, how the nuns were her introduction to women with power and how the morning pages transformed her life. Now 74 and 45 years dry, she says, she’s braver than ever.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me! Julia's recommendation, Creative Ideas by Ernest Holmes is out of print, but you can buy it here.* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.
  • 168. Dr Sharon Blackie wants you to embrace your inner hag - THE SHIFT REVISITED

    45:53
    Yes, it's still January! And this week we're revisiting an episode with psychologist, folklorist, mythologist and all-round one-woman campaigner for us to embrace our inner crone!---How do I want to age? What does the rest of my life look like? Those are questions I know many of you have given A LOT of thought. Well, my guest today has some answers.Dr Sharon Blackie is a psychologist and folklorist who is passionate about reimagining the ageing process for the better. Her last book If Women Rose Rooted was an ecofeminist sleeper hit about finding your place in the world that was passed from woman to woman with the words “you MUST read this”. Her new book, Hagitude: reimagining the second half of life, does JUST that. What, she asks, would ageing as a woman in the west be like if we embraced it. If we saw it as an adventure, not something to be dreaded, dodged, denied. At its heart is the radical idea: what if older women knew how to use the power and influence many of us don't know we have. What if we recognised our value? What if we wrote our own narratives?Sharon joined me to talk about the power of myth, embracing your inner hag and why she’d rather be the old woman in the wood than a boring old fairytale princess any day. She also told me what she learnt from THREE midlife crises, her decade of hot flushes and the joy of no longer having skin in the mating game.I found this conversation so motivating and inspiring. I hope you do too.* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including Hagitude and If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including exclusive transcripts of the podcast, why not join The Shift community, come and have a look around at www.theshiftwithsambaker.substack.com• The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.