Carla Hall: I Gained 20 Lbs. Hosting The Chew!

Carla Hall: I Gained 20 Lbs. Hosting The Chew!
Carla Hall
Julian Dufort

03/13/2014 AT 07:30 PM EDT

Carla Hall darts around the kitchen of her Washington, D.C., home, offering up whiffs of dried juniper berries and vanilla beans from her spice cabinet and then doling out a taste of a new "ooey-gooey" grilled-cheese casserole recipe she's testing out for an upcoming segment on her ABC talk show The Chew.

"For me this kitchen is about entertaining," says Hall, 49, who takes Amtrak to New York City every Monday to tape the hit daytime show before heading back home Thursday night.

"I love making comfort food, like stews and chili, and bringing people together. Being in my home and being in my kitchen are about relaxing. It's like the Do Drop Inn: I want you to feel like you can drop in."

Now in her third year of commuting to cohost The Chew with Mario Batali, Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelly and Michael Symon, Hall has learned how to streamline her life – particularly her diet.

"After the first three months on The Chew, I gained 20 lbs.," she says. "We were making five dishes for each show, two shows a day. And I was eating the whole plate. I had to learn to just have a taste."

Now she pre-plans her meals, workouts and even the number of hours of sleep she gets in order to ensure she's got the energy to be the bright and boisterous gal TV viewers have loved ever since she nabbed the runner-up slot on Top Chef in 2009.
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