When Sandra Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy in 2015, the stress of it caused her to lose weight. But the celebrity cook decided to gain back the weight, according to Today.com.


“I gained weight on purpose,” said the 53-year-old, who is in remission. “I actually worked at it with my doctor as I was borderline underweight.” She gained 10 pounds, including muscle she put on as result of exercise, and feels and looks great.

Lee was recently named one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” honorees. “Loving your body and yourself is super important,” she said. “Our bodies are a gift and our lives are a gift and they’re both to be cherished every single day.”

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Lee has turned to developing new recipes, for her social media followers and for Top Shelf, a new Today show original food series. Recipes include an easy banana breakfast smoothie, a quick and simple taco bar with creamy guacamole, and an easy Easter ham and cheesy ham casserole.

As for Lee’s personal eating habits, she often starts her day with a healthy breakfast smoothie packed with acacia (a source of fiber), mint, spinach and fruit. She snacks on popcorn and peach sparkling water and eats an early dinner that usually includes a “fabulous” protein and a vegetable in a pan sauce. She also drinks a lot of water and gets adequate zzz’s.

Lee encourages others to practice body positivity, especially during these difficult pandemic times. Don’t fret about consuming more food or gaining weight right now, she advises. Eat a little more or a little naughtier if it makes you happy, she says.

“There’s a way to look at the world,” she said. “You can do it with a glass half empty or a glass half full. I choose to look at it half full.” That philosophy, she says, helps her keep a stable mind and a healthy body.

For related coverage, read “Can Weight Gain Reduce Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk?” and “Eating Well When You Have Cancer.”