Television Chef Sandra Lee Is Gaining Weight on Purpose

Sandra Lee, the Food Network personality known for her “Semi-Homemade” cooking style, opened up this week on Today about making peace with her body.

Chef Sandra Lee
Chef Sandra Lee | Noam Galai/WireImage

Part of that process for the cookbook author is giving herself permission to do the opposite of so many with body image issues, namely, allowing herself to gain weight.

Chef Sandra Lee’s harrowing medical diagnosis

The chef known for helping home cooks out with kitchen shortcuts was diagnosed in 2015 with breast cancer. Understandably, it was an emotionally and physically painful time of her life.

And still, the California native took control of the situation from the beginning, refusing to feel victimized by the disease. She had a camera crew follow her from her initial doctor visits all the way through to her double mastectomy surgery.

At a time so fraught with fear, Lee wanted her ordeal to benefit others. She documented her experience into what would become an HBO special, RX Early Detection: A Cancer Journey With Sandra Lee, which aired during breast cancer awareness month in 2018.

She told Parade that year, “I wanted my diagnosis to serve a bigger purpose.”

Chef Sandra Lee’s transformed body image

The strain of her cancer diagnosis and treatment over the past five years has taken its toll on the Daytime Emmy Award winner, resulting in a great deal of weight loss. Lee loses her appetite when she’s upset or stressed, and her medical situation certainly qualifies as a major stressor.

While many might view lost weight as a small side benefit, the 53-year-old is fine with putting pounds back on – intentionally.

“I gained weight on purpose,” Lee told Today this week by email. “I actually worked at it with my doctor as I was borderline underweight. I was so stressed after the double mastectomy that I was underweight.”

“I love having a little weight on me and working out definitely made me gain weight as muscle weighs more than fat.”

Lee revealed she’s learned the truth of an often-used phrase through the hard lesson of cancer.

“Loving your body and yourself is super important,” she said in her Today conversation. “Our bodies are a gift and our lives are a gift and they’re both to be cherished every single day. If you are not happy and healthy, nothing in your life will be as happy or healthy as it can be.”

She still calls Andrew Cuomo ‘my guy’

While she and her former partner of fourteen years, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, ended their romantic relationship in the fall of 2019, they clearly remain good friends and each one’s supporter.

Even the joint statement that the pair issued at the time of their split was incredibly warmhearted, reading in part that they had “gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship.”

Speaking about her former partner to The New York Times earlier this month, Lee said, “He’s still my guy . . . Neither one of us, well as far as I know, has had a date … We share a home, we share children, we share friendship. I will protect him and be there for him until the day I die.”