Let’s Not Attack Paula Deen

It has been confirmed that Paula Deen has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and since it was announced there has been a firestorm of comments and criticism of the Food Network star. Comments stating her recipes, eating habits, etc have contributed to her health condition. Is this true? Sure- her recipes can be high in fat, calories, and refined carbohydrates at times, and this certainly could have contributed to her diabetes. However, as a Certified Diabetes Educator, I have worked with thousands of patients with type 2 diabetes and before we crucify Paula Deen for developing this disease, I want you to keep in mind I have had skinny, young patients with no family history (and healthy eating habits) develop the disease.

Sometimes the cause can be genetic, sometimes there could be an underlying medical condition that brings on diabetes (for instance I have had clients with rheumatoid arthritis on high doses that ended up with type 2 diabetes), but it is important to remember that just because someone was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean it was certainly their fault and could have been completely prevented. This stigma is what makes many individuals embarrassed or ashamed that they have diabetes, which is unfair. Could it have been prevented in many cases, possibly. And prevention is always best in the cause of a chronic disease like diabetes. But would you tell someone newly diagnosed with cancer “it’s your fault because you didn’t eat enough vegetables?” We could make that argument with almost any disease, but instead of pointing fingers at those diagnosed, let’s instead focus on supporting them and helping them make healthy lifestyle changes now to control this disease.

Instead of criticizing a public figure who is coming out to discuss a deadly disease effecting millions of Americans, let’s look at this as an incredible opportunity to educate all of us on the dangers, symptoms, and treatment of diabetes. When a client comes to me after just having been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 90% of them tell me they think they can never eat many foods, such as cookies, ever again. They are under the misconception “sugar is evil” and don’t understand that it is carbohydrates (which include sugar) they need to watch to control their blood sugar levels. My motto for everyone with diabetes is “you can eat any food, but moderation is key.” People with diabetes can still enjoy foods such as desserts and pasta, as long as they keep portion size in check and limit how often they have these foods (just like we all should be doing anyway!).

A Food Network star like Paula can show people with diabetes everywhere how any recipe can be adjusted to be meet the needs of a diabetic meal plan. For instance, maybe Ms. Deen can start to use whole grains vs refined flour or find substitutions to reduce the sugar and fat content in some of the foods she uses. In fact, I feel if a famous person with less-than-perfect eating habits like Paula Deen can show us all that simple changes can make a big impact on controlling blood sugar, it shows us we can all do it. Just because you have been diagnosed with diabetes does not destine you to a life full of boring, flavorless food.

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Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.


9 thoughts on “Let’s Not Attack Paula Deen

  1. Great points and suggestions for PD to use moving forward. Just wish her Today Show interview would have reflected that thoughtful and helpful approach. Not sure where she is really going with her announcement after three years of thinking about it.

    • I agree! Hopefully in the future she will start to transition to helping others with diabetes understand how to manage this disease and still enjoy the foods they love in moderation!

  2. Pingback: Let's Not Attack Paula Deen « dietexpertnj | Type A Diabetes

  3. Well said. I think It would help Paula if she came and spoke to you for some pointers. I love the fact that she is giving some money to the Diabetes Organization.

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  5. Healthy eating means consuming the right quantities of foods from all food groups in order to lead a healthy life. Diet is often referred to as some dietary regimen for losing weight. However, diet simply means what food we eat in the course of a 24-hour, one week, or one month, etc. period. A good diet is a nutritional lifestyle that promotes good health. A good diet must include several food groups because one single group cannot provide everything a human needs for good health. *

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