Padma Lakshmi: I Gain Weight Every ‘Top Chef’ Season

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Padma and daughter Krishna. Christopher Peterson/BuzzFoto/
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Padma and daughter Krishna. Christopher Peterson/BuzzFoto/

Padma Lakshmi deals in fantastic food for a living as host of the culinary competition show "Top Chef," so it's no surprise that she's made sure her 20-month-old daughter Krishna is a rather adventurous eater, too. For parents just trying to get their toddler to devour something other than Cheerios and macaroni, the array of ingredients Padma's little foodie likes is actually pretty impressive.

"She's got a very diverse palate probably because I've nursed her through the last three seasons of 'Top Chef,'" Lakshmi explains. "She eats seafood and dairy and she loves all kinds of spices, veggies, fruits, and beans and rice. She's a good eater. I'm really, really lucky."

The fact that little Krishna has a cookbook author for a mom may also have something to do with it, as Lakshmi insists on whipping up the same dish for her daughter as for the adults at the table, so as not to become "a short order cook," she jokes.

"We always make something which has a starch, a protein, and veggies in the same dish, often like a savory porridge like a lentil soup or black eyed peas and kale with some couscous thrown in. So, it's always some version of that and we all eat it," notes Lakshmi, who says Krishna's never even tasted packaged baby food.

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While she sounds like she has it all under control now, it was time management that the busy 41-year-old found most challenging when she became a mom. "Nothing anyone says can really prepare you for it. It changes your life," she says of parenthood. "It's a whole new way of life. And that's been a very humbling experience."

Lakshmi talked to omg! from a New York City event marking the launch of Huggies Little Movers Slip-On diapers, something she says comes in handy for busy moms. "If you've ever tried to change your baby's diaper in a New York City bathroom stall or in an airplane bathroom … it's really hard, so shaving maybe seconds or two minutes means the world, especially if you're a mother who's got an on-the-go lifestyle."

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That on-the-go lifestyle currently includes a new season of Bravo's "Top Chef" (which premiered this week), shot entirely in Texas this time around, which meant the contestants cooked up plenty of rich foods for Lakshmi and the judges to sample. Though some might wonder if the former model is actually eating all those delectable dishes season after season, Lakshmi insists she most certainly does dig in … and she's accepted the consequences. "I gain 10 or 15 pounds every season," she admits. "My wardrobe person has dresses in two and three sizes. You just can't see it on TV because I just go up a dress size."

The "Top Chef" host on the job. Virginia Sherwood/Bravo
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The "Top Chef" host on the job. Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

It's a simple trick Lakshmi says more women should try when they gain a few. "That's when women look heavier than they should because they're so [focused on] fitting into that 4," she explains. "They wind up looking heavier in a size 4 than they would in a size 6 because it doesn't fit properly."

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Between shooting the show and taking care of Krishna, there isn't all that much time for long, structured fitness routines, but Lakshmi's come up with her own workouts she can do anywhere, like carrying a jump rope in her purse to squeeze in a 10-minute cardio burst or even just walking stairs. "Every building or hotel has them. I actually pad up and down them and those last few flights are kind of pathetic looking, but the beauty is that … it's private, it's silent, and it almost becomes meditative. You just have to do what you can, when you can."

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