Me And My Home: A taste for the high life

Alice Hart-Davis meets a nutritionist whose top-floor flat is a window on the world
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The Independent Online

Ian Marber, nutrition consultant, runs The Food Doctor clinic in Holland Park, west London

I live in a one-bedroom flat in Kensington, where I've been for two-and-a-half years. I worked in property in the Eighties. It was fun, and left me with a fair idea of what is what - but having said that, I bought this flat because I liked it, rather than because it was a particularly good buy. I had been in Knightsbridge before, renting a flat that was rather chintzy, so when I moved here I wanted something a lot more modern - I wanted the steel kitchen and the wooden floors, and more light. I've also reached the point where I had a lot of things around me and I wanted to get rid of them. I have a whole pile of stuff in storage which I never want to see again.

It is quite modern - comfortable-modern, not austere - and I do like things to look good. There's a flat limestone fireplace and a light wood floor but I also have some antique wooden pieces - a walnut table and a Napoleonic chest - and a comfortable sofa and chairs. I have very few paintings compared to the old days - three favourites, and a few things painted by my father, who retired early, took up painting and has produced some wonderful things.

My flat is on the top floor, and I enjoy having all the light and air which it gets in the summer. In winter it's cosy - the first thing I do when I come in and it is freezing is to light the fire - and in the summer it's light. I wanted an open-plan kitchen, too, otherwise you are cut off from people when you are entertaining. I do enjoy cooking. How can I say this modestly? Some of my friends are kind enough to say my cooking is good, though strangely, in the past 18 months I have hardly cooked at all. I have been working from home a lot, writing, in the evenings and at weekends, so I haven't entertained much. I cook for myself, obviously, but for much of this year it has felt as if I have been out every night. Now, I'm doing more of what I want to do, and stay home several nights a week.

My bedroom has lovely westerly views, and the bathroom is all limestone and glass. I really wanted a bathroom with a window in it, which is something that's very difficult to find in a flat, since they usually have internal bathrooms. There's a terrace on the half-landing between second and third floors. I've managed to do nothing with it yet, though I have great plans for it - it has decking, and railings, at least. Give me a book deadline and I'll get it done, but things like chairs and cushions for the terrace will have to wait. I always swore I'd never write a diet book until I felt I had something new and worthwhile to say. I specialise in advising people with digestive conditions and eating disorders - but the first thing people ask about is weight loss, and the diet book is just out and has been really well received.

I had an interior designer - Robert Carslaw - source all the furniture for me, and the flat had only been finished for a few months when it was flooded - there was a leak in the roof due to some inexplicably cracked tiles and everything was ruined, and we had to start all over again, which was completely maddening.

I'm not one of those people who just go home to sleep. I like spending evenings at home, even if I'm working, which I do on my laptop at the dining-room table. I have a large television - not a super-large one, I don't want it to dominate the room, but it has a CD player, which means I could get rid of the stereo so I don't have wires trailing everywhere.

I don't have a large fridge in the kitchen. I found that when I did, I'd only go shopping once or twice a week. Where I work on Holland Park Avenue there are terrific shops, like Lidgates, the butchers, so if I'm going to be at home in the evening, I'll go and buy something that day. It's not an effort.

I'm not the sort of person who makes complicated food - it's unnecessary. I like fresh food, simple food. And there is nothing wrong with the odd glass of wine - in fact, I actively encourage it. It's like that quote from Brillat-Savarin, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine". I do say only drink with food - it's too easy to open the bottle and have a glass before you eat, then one after, and then the "who cares?" attitude kicks in and you finish the bottle. It's a pleasure that should be savoured, not overdone.

The whole thing isn't about deprivation. People think a nutrition consultant is going to show them what they can't eat. I'm there to widen my client's variety and show them not just to look at food for weight matters. I certainly don't put across the idea that if you're going to see a nutrition consultant you have to be abstemious. It's healthy eating that will help you lose weight.

The Food Doctor Nutrition Clinic, 020 7792 6700. Ian's latest book is 'The Food Doctor Diet' (£12.99, Dorling Kindersley) (www.thefooddoctor.com)

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