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Randy Jackson Tackles Weight Loss, Diet, and Diabetes

American Idol judge reveals how he lost 100 pounds and tamed his diabetes. Plus, a slimmed-down recipe and his iPod playlist!

Randy Jackson's New Book continued...

Now Jackson is a self-proclaimed TV-show guy, and he lives in Los Angeles where health and fitness, not food and good times, tend to reign supreme. His healthier approach to eating is spilling over to his children -- Taylor, 18 (with ex-wife Elizabeth Jackson), Zoe, 13, and Jordan, 11, with wife Erika. “There are lots of fruits and vegetables in the house, and we now have the corn without the bread,” he says.

He has also learned to cook healthier versions of the foods he grew up loving, such as low-fat sweet potato pie and salt-free Cajun spice bread. (Try Jackson's recipe for shrimp and sausage gumbo.)

Randy Jackson's Weight Loss

Even so, how does he hold his own in the face of Cowell’s teasing or late nights on the road? “I now know so much about food that I can look at a piece of chicken or fish and have half,” he says. “I am very attuned to knowing when I have had enough.”

Forgiveness is also a part of the equation for Jackson. “If you make a mistake, change it the next day,” he says. “Never say ‘I will never have another piece of chocolate,’ because it won’t happen, and as soon as you say never, there is a binge coming.” Jackson instead turns to frozen yogurt and protein shakes to satisfy his sweet tooth.

Health experts approve Jackson’s approach. “We know that Americans can lose weight, they just can’t sustain their weight loss,” explains Francine R. Kaufman, MD, head of the Diabetes Center at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and a distinguished professor of pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. “Jackson’s message is to do ‘the best I can today and keep pushing each day,’ and that’s the right one.”

Knowing yourself also helps. Obviously, he can dish it out as an Idol judge, often calling contestants’ renditions of classic tunes “pitchy,” but even at his heaviest Jackson was no easy target for ticked-off Idol wannabees. “If someone called me fat, I was like ‘Dude, I’ve got a mirror, you ain’t telling me nothing I don’t already know.’”

So what finally clicked for Jackson, who was looking pretty large when Kelly Clarkson took home the title in 2002 and comparatively svelte when David Cook brought down the house at the end of season seven last May? “I barely recognize myself when I look back at old shows,” he says. “Although the transformation may have seemed abrupt to viewers, I had been trying to lose weight for a long time.” He’s tried as many diets as there have been finalists over the years. “Liquid fasts. Bee stings. Urine of pregnant women. You name it. I have tried it,” he says, exaggerating a bit. “The problem is that those diets don’t work for people who have the disease of obesity.”

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