Mr Blue / WENN 1 / 13
Mr Blue / WENN 1 / 13

Nearly a year after she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Food Network star Paula Deen shed an impressive 36 pounds -- and kept it off!

"It's all about moderation," the butter-loving Southern chef says in the February issue of Woman's Day. "I just needed to learn to eat a normal portion size and not overindulge."

PHOTOS: 10 easy ways to slim down fast

Health benefits aside, Deen had other reasons for wanting to revamp her diet. "I want to be here for my grandchildren. I think about them every day. My daddy was dead at 40. My mother was dead at 44. And look -- I'm 65 and I'm still here! Go, 65!" she laughs. "Waking up every morning is very exciting for me, to see what the day is going to bring."

PHOTOS: 5 simple winter slim down tips

Deen still eats her favorite foods, including her famous fried chicken and her grandmother's pound cake, though she does so less frequently. "It's amazing how little changes will give you big results," she says.

Even so, the TV star -- once a size 18 -- refuses to eat fat-free meals. "In my refrigerator, there's no light mayonnaise," Deen offers as an example. "I'd rather eat less of the real thing and have it taste really good than have diet stuff that tastes awful."

PHOTOS: 15 best 100-calorie snacks

Deen, who resides in Savannah, Ga., tells Woman's Day she's been able to curb her appetite by slowing down during meals. "Putting my fork down and having a conversation has been a huge help," she reveals. "Because it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you're full."

MORE FROM WOMAN'S DAY:

See more of Paula Deen's diet rules in Woman's Day

Read the Paula Deen interview in Woman's Day

A look inside Paula Deen's home

Five healthier recipes from the Deens

MORE ON WONDERWALL:

BING: Celebrity body transformations

Paula Deen shows off significant weight loss

Adele: I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life