Giada De Laurentiis: Believing in Herself Post-Divorce, Not Fitting the Mold of What a Chef Should Look Like & Feeling Empowered in the Kitchen

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11:  Giada De Laurentiis visits "Extra" on August 11, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Giada De Laurentiis visits “Extra” on August 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Chef and author Giada De Laurentiis created a festive holiday menu for the December issue DR.OZ The Good Life, on newsstands November 24th, 2015, featuring recipes from her new book, Happy Cooking. The only requirement: that the food should feel exciting and splurge-y, without launching us all into damage control mode come January. Giada dished to Dr.Oz about not fitting the mold of what a cook should look like, sticking to a three-bit rule to keep portions in check and feeling empowered in the kitchen. Giada also opens up about her split from fashion designer Todd Thompson, believing in herself post-divorce and what the good life means to her: “You know, I think laughing inside and outside is important. So between cooking and laughing, I think my life is pretty great.”

Giada on how she got into cooking and finding her voice in the kitchen: “Well, I come from a large family of Italians who tend to be very boisterous and overpowering—especially the men,” she says. “The women sort of shrink a little, and I shrank a lot. So the way I felt empowered and really strong was in the kitchen.”

On not fitting the mold of what a chef should look like: “I don’t fit the mold of what people believe a cook should look like. You’ve heard the expression ‘You can’t trust a skinny cook.’ But everyone has a different frame and body size. In my family, we enjoy everything, but we don’t overindulge.”

Giada on how her three-bite rule helps her savor the food and keep portions in check: “Tasteless food always leaves you wanting more. The key is eating flavorful food, just not eating a lot of it. Truly, the best sensations are the first few bites, but to appreciate them, you have to be in tune with yourself. I love desserts, so I remind myself it’s OK not to finish them. I can always have another sweet tomorrow. And if I overindulge one day, I’ll scale back the next. For the holidays, I typically skip the jeans and go for A-line dresses and tights. I still feel good, but I have more room to move around in my clothes.”

Giada on her split from fashion designer Todd Thompson earlier this year: “We had been together since I was 19; I’m now 45. That’s a lifetime with someone. It was a very difficult time. I don’t have the answers; I’m figuring them out as I go. I’m also afraid, like many other women who go through this, and men, too, for that matter.”

On navigating all-new challenges, and believing in herself post-divorce: “I never knew how to hook up a TV; I had alarms going off in the night that I never had to deal with because my ex-husband would handle all that stuff. I can do those things now. If the water heater breaks, I can handle it. It’s moments like those that wake you up and make you think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can take care of myself.’ Every challenge is an opportunity to become stronger and believe in yourself more. That’s what it’s about: believing in yourself.”

Giada on what the good life means to her: “The good life to me is lots of laughter. People always ask me: ‘Why do you smile so much? And how do you keep smiling?’ You know, I think laughing inside and outside is important. And to me, ‘happy cooking’ is really important. So between cooking and laughing, I think my life is pretty great.”

Image via Getty Images

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