Paula Deen announced in January 2012 that she has type 2 diabetes which is no surprise considering all of the sugar and flour she uses in her recipes. She was criticized in the media for her high fat recipes and some people said she even deserved her diagnosis. She was also condemned for endorsing a diabetes drug after years of teaching people to eat unhealthy food. In July 2012 she was on the cover of People magazine saying she had lost 30 pounds. I wanted to look into how she changed her diet and if she has learned anything about the causes of diabetes.
The media always portrays Paula as the queen of butter but if you ask me butter is one the healthiest foods she could be eating. I don’t think it is fair to blame Paula Deen for increases in diabetes because even people following the low-fat “My Plate” guidelines can get the disease very easily. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by a lifetime of following a standard American sugar and grain-based diet, which produces erratic blood sugar swings and over time wears out the pancreas. When the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin to clear sugar from the blood after high carbohydrate meals then people become diabetic. Many people need medication to stabilize their blood sugar but some have successfully weened off diabetes drugs by following a lower carbohydrate whole foods plan like the Paleo diet.
In 2012 it is estimated that over 350 million people worldwide have Type 2 Diabetes which is the same as the U.S. population. The average USA native eats over 300 carbohydrate grams per day and 214 lbs of sugar per year.
The body produces insulin every time we eat too many carbohydrates at meal which signals the body to store fat. It is possible to get diabetes even if you are thin, though most people think it is only the obese who get the diagnosis. Keeping blood sugar in a narrow range (80-120 1-2 hours post meal) is vital for Type 2 diabetes prevention and fat loss.
Cut the sugar not the fat:
I am sure Paula Deen is trying to lower her dietary fat at the advice of some well meaning dietician who has their facts all wrong. A low fat diet leads to cravings for saturated fat which are often mistaken as sugar cravings. Have you ever felt like you were going to kill someone if you didn’t get something sweet at 3 pm? Have you ever eaten a whole pint of ice cream in the blink of an eye? This is your body craving saturated fat and it will do anything to get it. Our brain is 70-80% fat so the body needs it to rebuild and repair daily for optimal cognitive functioning. Saturated fat helps our bodies absorb minerals like calcium and magnesium for strong bones and reduced sweet cravings. Saturated fat also increases good HDL cholesterol and detoxifies the liver so it can burn body fat more efficiently.
According to People Magazine Paula’s new diet consists of:
Farm fresh eggs
Sounds very similar to a lower carb paleo diet don’t you think?
She said she keeps her carbs to a spoonful per meal and only has fried chicken once per month now. She also said she cut way back on biscuits.
Smoothies can concentrate sugar:
She said she used to skip out on breakfast but now she has a fruit smoothie which is bad news, because if the shake/smoothie does not have fat like egg yolks, coconut milk, or protein powder such as Great Lakes Gelatin, it will spike blood sugar and increase hunger.
On Bringing her family along:
She said her husband lost 100 lbs and her son Jamie also lost 45 lbs on her new lower carb eating plan.
Paula on Dr. Oz:
On a recent episode of Dr. Oz she blamed her diabetes on genetics but what “runs in her family” is a diet full of processed carbs, vegetable oil, and sugar that she has eaten her whole life. Dr. Oz challenged her to cut the fat and calories in her recipes to make “healthy versions”. Watching this clip was insufferable for me because I wanted to scream! Diabetes is not about calories or fat grams, it is about repeated blood sugar spikes coming from foods like breaded oven”fried”chicken and low-fat whole wheat mac and cheese. These high carb foods will send your blood sugar sky high wearing out your pancreas setting the stage for diabetes. I have news for Dr. Oz and Paula, fats like coconut oil, grass fed butter, olive oil, ghee, avocado, grass fed meat and eggs will help to stabilize blood sugar and keep people full for hours.
Is Paula a real foodie at heart?
Paula raises her own chickens in her backyard in Savannah, GA. She is also very excited about all the vegetables she is growing in her garden.
What about Exercise?
Paula said she has started walking for 30 minutes a day and enjoys it but it’s not as addictive as some of her other habits…
Another issue for her health is that she smokes! Besides having addictive nicotine cigarettes are also are laced with sugar making them that much harder to resist. They can also cause heavy metal toxicity leading to weight gain and poor liver function. Smoking can also increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Dr.Oz challenged her to quit smoking to be around for her grandchildren and her husband. We will see if she follows through…
Cutting through the hype:
I congratulate Paula on her weight loss and making changes toward a healthier lifestyle. It seems as if she is using whole foods and cutting back on carbs in her effort to get healthy. I challenge her go a step further to try a low carb, paleo diet to see if she can get off the diabetes medication for good (under a doctors supervision, of course). I also wish she would see that butter and natural fats from meat, eggs and fish are vital for diabetes prevention and blood sugar regulation.
I urge you to think critically when you read stories in the media that try to demonize traditional foods that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. I am southerner too and I grew up loving mac and cheese and cornbread but now I know it’s the grain products and sugar that are causing the diabetes epidemic not the butter and meat.
Ready for a Sugar Detox?
If you are looking for a great guide to help you get healthy check out the 21 Day Sugar Detox!
Weston A. Price Foundation Treating Diabetes Dr. Cowan