James White
September 13, 2017 02:49 PM

Although Padma Lakshmi cuts back on the carbs and dairy after filming a season of Top Chef, the host says she’s no longer worried about looking perfect.

Lakshmi, 47, who is the cover star of Health‘s October issue, says she enters “detox” mode to help shed some of the weight she gained while sampling endless dishes on the Bravo cooking competition show.

“It’s no sweets, no red meat, no wheat, no alcohol, no fried food, no dairy except for cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt,” she says. “But this is a milder version — like, I can fall off the wagon one day a week. It’s a more relaxed version now, because I don’t care as much [as I used to]. I don’t need to be a size 2. It’s OK.”

RELATED: Padma Lakshmi Testifies That She Was ‘Threatened’ By Teamsters In Top Chef Trial: I Thought ‘He Was Going to Hit Me’

Still, you can usually find Lakshmi whipping up one of healthiest go-to meals: a big, hearty salad.

“My salads are really serious. I use a lot of funky vegetables and get creative with a lot of nuts, different dried fruits, or apple and mint,” she says. “Then I always put a protein on top, like fish, chicken, or shrimp. I get really funky with my dressings, too. You can do Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Moroccan. You can change it up and make it different five days a week for lunch or dinner. Then you have a glass of sangria as a treat.”

WATCH THIS: Padma Lakshmi Gained 17 Lbs. from Deep Dish Pizza on “Top Chef”

The former model also told Health that she now owns jeans in multiple sizes instead of worrying about squeezing into something smaller.

“Rather than kill yourself to get into the lower size, you look skinnier in the bigger size,” she says. “No one’s looking at your labels. It used to be about being a certain size and fitting into clothes, but now with Top Chef, I have clothes in every size in my closet, from a 4 to a 14.”

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Her change in attitude is largely due to wanting to be a good role model for her 7-year-old daughter Krishna, who was starting to harshly comment on her own figure.

“Every message I telegraph about food and our bodies is important. If I need a bigger dress, so be it,” she recently wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

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