Want to know Padma Lakshmi‘s simple recipe for good health? “It’s all the basic things — I try to drink two liters of water a day and get enough sleep,” the Top Chef judge told Closer Weekly in an exclusive interview at the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s Blossom Ball in NYC.

But there’s a secret ingredient. “I try to hug my daughter as often as I can,” she said of her 9-year-old, Krishna. “Because nothing gives me more pure joy on a visceral level.”

Padma cherishes her daughter even more because she was diagnosed with the painful gynecological condition endometriosis at the age of 36. “I was told I couldn’t have children,” the model says. That changed for her after after she had surgery and conceived Krishna with venture capitalist Adam Dell. “Now I know what life is like on the other side,” says Padma, who cofounded the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2008 to raise awareness and advocate for research and legislation to fight the disease.

Her advice for women who may be dealing with undiagnosed medical issues? “No one knows your body as well as you do, and you need to be proactive about taking care of yourself and getting to the bottom of things,” she says. “For so long I thought [pain] was part of being a woman and I grinned and beared it, but it’s not. I always say pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong, so you should listen.”

To Padma, Krishna is a miracle. “I’m so lucky to have her,” she gushes. “Her middle name is Thea, which means ‘gift from God.'”

That’s why the 48-year-old — despite Top Chef duties, writing cookbooks, running businesses (she has a kitchenware line and a jewelry line) and a new position as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme — prioritizes time with her daughter. “In 10 years, I’m not going to look back and say, ‘Oh, look at all these beautiful projects I’ve done,'” she concludes. “I’m going to say, ‘Was I there for Krishna?'”

For more on your favorite celebs, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!