November 03, 2011 04:00 PM

Britney Joe/Startraks

After welcoming her daughter last year, Padma Lakshmi was faced with raising Krishna Thea on her own; Twenty months later, however, parenting has evolved into a group effort.

“In truth, I am a single mother. But I don’t feel alone at all in parenting my daughter,” the Top Chef host, whose support system includes extended family and friends, tells Yahoo! Shine.

“Krishna has a whole other side of her family who loves her, too. And so Krishna is parented by me, but also by her grandmother and aunts and cousins and uncles and friends.”

Admitting it certainly “takes a village” to raise a child, Lakshmi, 41, is thrilled her daughter is growing up in a diverse environment.

“The more who encompass her, the more different kinds of people who are in Krishna’s life, the better off she is,” she says.

Despite Lakshmi’s success in the spotlight, she maintains a tight circle of trust around her daughter and shields Krishna from the public eye — including Lakshmi’s Twitter followers.

“I never Tweet about my daughter. Never. I just want to be respectful of her privacy,” she explains. “My job as a mom is to know when to open my mouth and when not to.”

Taking her time to regain her body after baby, the first-time mom admits shedding the pregnancy pounds was a long — and difficult! — road.

“I wasn’t like those girls who give birth and are back on the runway,” she shares. “It took me probably six months to gain 45 pounds and I would say it took me double that time to lose it.”

Fortunately, Lakshmi was able to quickly adapt to her new — and “very humbling” — motherhood curves.

“I did learn a new way to dress after I had [Krishna]. I was on the side of every bus in town [for Top Chef]. I was on billboards,” she recalls. “And I was a size 14. And not that being a size 14 is even that big, but it was big for me … I went up 10 dress sizes in six months. I had no idea how to dress. I’d never worn Spanx before!”

— Anya Leon

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