Cheryl Cole's malaria battle "opened" her eyes to healthy living.

The former 'x factor' judge caught the disease after visiting Africa last year with then-boyfriend Derek Hough, and although she was in hospitalised she insists it did benefit her as it made her focus more on the important things in life.

She said: "It opened my eyes to health and things I hadn't focused on before. It's now less about work, work, work and more about taking time to chill and be with my friends and family."

The 28-year-old singer was left bed-ridden by the effects of malaria and she has revealed the disease "ate away" her muscles and turned her complexion yellow.

In an interview with InStyle magazine, she said: "I was yellow because of my kidneys - it was a bit like jaundice. It was hard to find a matching foundation, let me tell you!

"I had to take good care of myself and I was told to stop exercising and to gain weight to get well. I just ate everything."

Meanwhile, Cheryl is planning a girly holiday with her Girls Aloud bandmate Sarah Harding after the blonde star completes her rehab treatment in the US.

A source told The Sun newspaper: "Cheryl has been there for Sarah massively. They've had some heartfelt conversations on the phone. Cheryl can identify with Sarah because she's hit rock bottom in the past too.

"It's been a long time since they've spent real quality time together so they've decided to jet off for a break. They thought America will be best as they can slip under the radar out there. Obviously it will be a wholesome holiday."