From high school bullies to navigating unrealistic Hollywood standards to losing baby weight, Mindy Kaling has been open about her health journey over the years.
Many fans met the comedian through her character on The Office, Kelly Kapoor, which debuted in 2005. In addition to recurring on screen, Kaling was in the writer’s room. During a season 5 episode, Kelly went on a diet inspired by Beyoncé — replacing meals with a cleanse that consists of lemons, cayenne pepper, water and maple syrup.
“We always think of a diet with a big groan,” Kaling said of the story line on NPR in 2011. “But I think diets are fun. I think it is an American pastime for a lot of women. I don’t know. I think that Kelly thinks of dieting as a fun hobby to have.”
That same year, the writer released her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? In the candid memoir, she wrote about creating a “makeshift diet formula” in high school after a classmate told her she would “be really pretty if you lost weight.” As a result, Kaling “would eat exactly half of what was put in front of me, and no dessert.”
“Without exercising, I lost thirty pounds in about two months,” she wrote. “I remember waking up in the morning and looking down at my fingers and seeing they had shrunk overnight. Suddenly I was freezing all the time, like those skinny girls in movie theaters are always complaining about, and needed to sleep with an extra wool blanket. My face thinned out, and my belly went away. … I thought [my bully] Duante would finally leave me alone, but he didn’t.”
The actress explained that she “stayed at a pretty normal weight until college” when she gained 35 pounds during the first six months of her freshman year. She dropped the weight by introducing exercise into her life, but declared she would be “chubby for life” for four reasons: she has “no hobbies except dieting,” she has “no discipline,” men she’s “dated have been into me the way I am” and she’s “pretty happy with the way I look, so long as I don’t break a beach chair.”
As Kaling’s star rose, she became known for fashion — both as her character on The Mindy Project and on the red carpet.
“If there was an awards show or I was shooting something, I used to be the person that was like, I have to stop eating these foods, or six weeks beforehand, I’m only going to juice,” Kaling admitted on Today in May 2022, adding that she now opts not to restrict her diet, but eats in moderation. “I’m never going to stop being a foodie. I’m never going to be someone who can just have spinach and salmon every day. I just am really for the first time in my life, trying moderation, and I love it.”
The producer added that she no longer thinks of exercise as a punishment.
“Sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Well, I have four different times today where I have 10 minutes so let’s just walk instead of sitting down and checking Instagram,'” she explained. “So instead of it being like one chunk of exercise in the beginning of the day or none at all, I’m now just deciding that I’m going to be a more active person all the time.”
Kaling’s new approach to wellness came after she navigated losing baby weight twice. She welcomed daughter Katherine in 2017 and son Spencer in 2020.
Sign up for Us Weekly's free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
Scroll through for more from Kaling: