Padma Lakshmi Doesn’t Care What You Think of Her Weight Gain

The ‘Top Chef’ host opens up about the impact her diet has on her daughter

It's almost Emmy time again, and it’s no surprise that Top Chef is up for another award. In a recent issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the show's co-host, Padma Lakshmi, opened up about eating for a living and the societal pressures of looking red carpet-ready.

“While filming Top Chef, I consume about 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day,” she wrote. “It adds up. I typically gain anywhere from 10 to 17 pounds every season. Once I get home, what’s taken me six weeks to gain takes me 12 weeks to take off.”

Lakshmi isn’t allowed much time for weight-loss, as Top Chef is filmed in the summer just months before the Emmys. Yet, for the sake of herself and her fans, she strives to shape down and “fit into those fancy couture dresses.”

But the journey to looking and feeling her best isn’t without sacrifice. Lakshmi prepares by dieting — no meat, wheat, cheese, fried foods, sweets, or alcohol — vigorously exercising, and searching for a dress that no one else will have (or so she hopes). “It’s always a nail-biting extravaganza at fittings, praying that a few pretty dresses that came down the runway on a teenage model who is a size 0 will miraculously fit my 40-something body,” she wrote. “In spite of my high metabolism, I worry each year that I’m not going to fit into anything nice.”

Now, she’s noticing a change in 7-year-old daughter, Krishna, who studies her mom’s award-season training habits. “Suddenly she’s told me and others in our circle, ‘I don’t want to eat because I’m watching my figure,’ or, ‘I weigh too much.’ I wasn’t thinking anything of the sort when I was 7 or 10 or even 13,” she said. “Her words scared me. Language matters. We send signals to our daughters every day. And I am her first touchstone of femininity.”

On that note, this year Lakshmi’s biggest concern will not be her body.

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“If I need a bigger dress, so be it,” she wrote. “That one day — or any day — on the red carpet isn’t nearly as important as making sure my daughter doesn’t measure her worth by her dress size.” Lakshmi herself can certainly measure worth in terms of her success if she prefers — to see America’s 25 most successful chefs of 2017, click here.