Padma Lakshmi is no longer doing whatever it takes to look perfect for the Emmys.
In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, the 46-year-old “Top Chef” host revealed the struggles she endures every year to look camera-ready for the televised ceremony.
“Every year I manage to somehow make it to the awards, usually with two hours of working out a day and a disciplined diet,” she explained. “My diet for the Emmys is pretty straightforward. It’s like a poem: no meat, no wheat, no cheese, no fried foods or sweets. And of course, no alcohol.”
Lakshmi revealed that her job makes it difficult to get in shape quickly, despite the many perks it offers.
“When filming ‘Top Chef,’ I consume about 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day,” she said. “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.”
Lakshmi added that while she’s always grateful to be nominated for an award, it’s still frustrating to dive into a marathon of dieting and exercising, all in hopes of squeezing into a size 0 gown that will complement her “40-something body.”
The celebrity chef quickly noted that her 7-year-old daughter Krishna was carefully observing this behavior.
“She’s noticed, and 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,’” said Lakshmi. “I wasn’t thinking anything of the sort when I was 7 or 10 or even 13. 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.”
Now for her daughter’s sake, Lakshmi is gaining more confidence and embracing her body for what it is — not what it can be.
“Every message I telegraph about good and our bodies is important,” she said. “So, this year, I’ve decided my weight will not be my focus. If I need a bigger dress, so be it. That one — 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 previous told Fox News in 2016 that when it comes to food, she prefers not to limit herself.
“First and foremost, I never feel guilty about taking pleasure in eating any food, regardless of how healthy or gluttonous it may be,” she said. “That said, I try not to eat fried chicken too many days in a row, although this is hard.
"The healthiest kitchen habit I recommend is to pick a weekend day or evening when you would normally be binge watching Netflix, and use that time to precut your staple veggies for the week… Professional chefs call this process 'mise en place.' This way, when you come home during the week tired from work, the majority of the prep is already done — you can just throw everything into a pan.”