TV Chef Shares How She Went From 8,000 Calories A Day To Dieting For The Red Carpet

Top Chef star Padma Lakshmi talks about how the show affects her body and why she’s giving up worrying about how she looks for the red carpet.

Top Chef Padma Lakshmi on the red carpetphoto credit: shutterstock

Top Chef Padma Lakshmi wants to stop the yo-yo dieting

And just when we didn’t think we could admire Padma Lakshmi any more than we already do: She’s smart, stunning, and self assured – and she’s making sure her daughter grows up just as confident.

Now having hosted the popular food show Top Chef for the past 11 years, the former model works on getting back into shape and red-carpet ready once each season wraps so she can lose the 10 to 17 pounds she gains.

The ups and downs of working on TV

Lakshmi has accepted the fact that the weight gain is part of the job–she has to taste every dish, after all. What she refuses to accept though, as she shared with The Hollywood Reporter is how her focus on her own weight and her yo-yo dieting was starting to negatively impact her seven-year old daughter’s self esteem.

“When filming Top Chef, I consume about 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day,” she writes. “We start with anywhere from 15 to 18 contestants, and I have to take a bite or two from each of their plates to adequately judge each dish. Every day. 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.”

That moment she realized she had to make a change?

With her daughter going through a growth spurt and at four feet tall, Lakshmi shared that she has said to her daughter that she’s too heavy for her to carry her. And it was when she heard her daughter saying, “I weigh too much,” and “I don’t want to eat because I’m watching my figure,” that it hit home how her nibbling brown rice and lentils was impacting her little one.

“Her comments stopped me dead in my tracks. Her words scared me. Language matters. We send signals to our daughters every day. And I am her first touchstone of femininity,” wrote Lakshi in her guest column for the entertainment site.

She points out the world her daughter is observing, one where Lakshmi’s work involves getting hair and makeup done for TV and appearances. But of course, there are other factors, too. “She’s not getting these messages only from me, she’s getting them from every billboard, from every magazine lying on our coffee table.”

Lakshmi recognizes that she can’t put blinders on her daughter to keep her from today’s reality and culture. “But I have a responsibility to make sure that she has a healthy self-image and a normal childhood. I don’t want her to ever be ashamed of her body,” says the Easy Exotic cookbook author.

So for this year’s Emmys, Lakshmi says that her weight will not be her focus. If this means she needs to wear a bigger dress to the Emmys, she’s fine with that, noting that the red carpet isn’t as important as making sure her daughter doesn’t measure her worth by her dress size.