Following a decade of yo-yo dieting after splitting from husband Michael Kurer, Vanessa Feltz had a gastric band fitted in 2010.
Now, between a healthy size 14 and 16, and happily partnered up with singer Ben Ofoedu, 45, the 56-year-old presenter tells us why she couldn’t be happier with her decision to go under the knife – especially as it’s meant she’s able to spend all her time off with her grandchildren, Zekey, four, and two-year-old Neroli.
‘My gastric band helped me enormously, because it physically stops you just shovelling food in. However, if you were to eat a whole tub of ice cream, or if you were a heavy drinker – which luckily I’m not – it won’t stop you doing that, as it’s liquid. If you wanted to shovel down a whole load of mashed potato, you could probably do that too, if you did it slowly. But it stops you unthinkingly eating everything at a party where they’re handing round nibbles. Before I could eat for all sorts of reasons, being sad, being lonely, and nothing would stop me, whereas here is a physical thing that stops me and I’ve found it very helpful, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone.’
‘Lots of celebs want to look as if they’ve had a miraculous diet that really worked or they’ve conceived a baby naturally, rather than with a borrowed egg, borrowed sperm or surrogate, or as if their nose naturally got smaller. I think they just want to project a perfect image and not explain why they got there.’
‘Fern Britton got so much stick for not telling all about her gastric band. She said she felt some things in her life were entitled to be private, but I’ve done the opposite. I’ve thought, “Be honest, don’t pretend you’ve conquered something all by yourself when you haven’t,” but not everyone would want to do that. On my TV and radio shows, people have always been honest and told me their stories, so I felt like I had to reciprocate.’
‘As far as women are concerned, there’s an awful lot of self-loathing. Women find they can’t enjoy the most enjoyable parts of life, because they feel their thighs are too fat or their bottom’s too big, or their boobs are too droopy. It’s a shame because your body is the one you’ve been given. No matter how much you exercise or starve yourself, you’re never going to make your legs longer. It just seems such a tragedy if women can’t celebrate being healthy or their personality, so I think celebrating body positivity has to be a good thing.’
‘I’m just completely obsessed by my grandbabies. They’re the absolute driving passion of my life. I try to see them every day if I can. My daughters live very near in North London, so I’m lucky.’
‘Why don’t EastEnders have a role for a middle-class, Jewish grandma of 56? I’d be marvellous at it! They need one and I’d love to do it.’
‘Ben is also fantastic with the grandkids. They worship him and he’s phenomenal with them. He’s teaching them to rap and he flies them around the place in his arms.’
‘The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother, and it was, ‘You must preserve your mystique’. So you don’t shave your legs in front of your partner, you don’t wear your horriblest, old knickers, and remain tremendously alluring always. It’s not bad advice. Ben said I have stuck to it at all times.’