Pin It

Paula Deen Confirms Type 2 Diabetes – What Is to Blame?

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

Over the weekend rumors were flying that Paula Deen was going to announce that she has developed Type 2 Diabetes. This is such a hot issue because in recent years she has been called out in the media, and by fellow Food Network chefs, for her food being so unhealthy. Today she did in fact confirm that she developed diabetes three years ago. The delay in the announcement seems clearly, to me at least, an attempt to buy time and figure out how to spin this and profit from it. In addition to becoming a pharmaceutical company spokesperson she is also starting a new diabetes management program called ‘Diabetes in a New Light’ which appears closely linked to the aforementioned pharma company.

I have limited knowledge of Paula Deen myself. I did not watch her show (though I may have seen bits of an episode or two) and I don’t want to bash her or bash her food. That is not the intent of this post. What irritates me about this whole thing is that the first thing people say when they hear about this is… “Well, just look at all the fat in her recipes!” They talk about her fried foods and her love of butter. They talk about all the bacon she used in her recipes. They talk about how she needs to go vegan and get rid of all that fat. Huh????

Color me confused but what in the heck does fat have to do with this issue. Nothing. Why does everyone bring up the fat content of her meals? It was not the fat that made her diabetic. It was all the sugar and other foods that turn into sugar and cause insulin spikes and blood sugar imbalance, the carbs. It was not the butter, it was the bread, pasta, grains, baked goods, and sugar. It wasn’t the egg, or the patty, or the bacon in her Lady’s Brunch Burger… it was the glazed doughnut that sandwiched these things.

Perhaps Ms. Deen DID go overboard with fats in her recipes. I don’t dispute that. I highly doubt she much considered the quality of her fats either. But I do not think that fats make you fat and lots of current research supports this. Watch the movie Fat Head for a crash course. The book Wheat Belly also addresses this at length. It is too many calories and all the carbs… grains, pancakes, pasta, doughnuts, bread, oatmeal, etc that causes obesity. The insulin causes our body to store fat and send messages to our brain to keep eating carbs, even though technically we have eaten enough calories. Fat satiates us and makes us feel full. Carbs make us hungry again an hour after we eat a big meal. The insulin spikes from the constant carb load eventually cause insulin resistance. Our body is worn out from years of abuse and we develop type 2 diabetes and it wasn’t from eating fat. If you put two sticks of butter in your mac and cheese that didn’t help matters. Yet it was the pasta next to all that cheese and butter that caused your body to store that fat instead of burn it and make you ready for seconds before the first plate even digested.

It bothers me to see bloggers and other media folks harping on the fat while they give a free pass to the real culprits… the grains and carbs. Obesity is blamed when obesity is simply the symptom. Sadly when Paula Deen’s recipes are revamped for “healthier” eating they will likely become low fat whilst remaining high carb. A diet like that almost ensures that a diabetic will need to take insulin for management and intertwine their future with a pharma company who is motivated by profit and has no desire to help you achieve actual health.

Sadly I see the wrong foods being blamed here and the “cure” isn’t going to do anything but ensure you become and remain, a pharma customer. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?

Lady Brunch Burger Photo Source  | Added to Real Food Wednesday

  • Deven Draughon Vasko

    Please do a bit more research. Eating Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. Even a completely health person can develop  diabetes.

    • What??? I don’t even know what to say to this. If you have become insulin resistant you are not healthy. Your body was abused and is now incapable of doing its job. Sugar (as in cake and doughnuts) is not the only fall guy. It is ALL grains. The only carbs humans were meant to eat is fruit and veggies.

      • guest


    • Ursula

      People who THINK they are healthy can develop type II diabetes. But they clearly weren’t healthy, and yes, eating too many carbs, especially grains and sugar (and of course, grains are converted straight to sugar by the body after eating them, even whole grains) IS the culprit.

  • Maryann

    I agree that we are all eating the wrong things! Refined sugars and flours do us no good. We over process everything and call it good food. It is junk. We have learned a lot about real nutrition and real food while trying to recover my eldest son from autism. Sugar is inflammatory and can cause all sorts of bad body responses. We as a society need to start learning about real healthy food instead of these foods that are devoid of nutrients but “low calorie” instead. Pure junk.

  • Simone

    Deven — the type of diabetes you’re referring to is Type I diabetes mellitus. It differs from Type II diabetes in that it’s an autoimmune disease which essentially means that the body attacks itself — in this case, the body attacks the pancreatic cells which produce insulin. Most people that develop Type I diabetes are otherwise healthy. There is no cure and the person is dependent on insulin and strict diet control for the rest of their life. I believe that only about 10% of diabetes cases are Type I (included in this 10% is gestational diabetes, which women can get while pregnant); the other 90% of diabetics have Type II diabetes mellitus.

    What Paula Deen has is Type II diabetes mellitus, which is a metabolic disorder. As Tiffany talks about in her blog post, this is the result of life-style. The primary cause being obesity in someone who is genetically predisposed. With life-style changes — exercise and dietary — a person can dramatically alter their diagnosis. If these life-style changes are not made, a person will become dependent on oral drugs and then insulin, as their disease progresses.

    Tiffany, I hear you, sister! As a RN it pains me to see so many people developing a condition that is the result of life-style. Even if you are predisposed genetically to Type II diabetes, if you eat right and live right, you can stay healthy. And once someone gets a Type II diagnosis, a person can take control of their life and health and stop further destruction to their pancreas. I have seen Type II diabetics, who are dependent on oral drugs, make dramatic life-style changes and lose weight through diet and exercise and they are no longer drug-dependent.

    It’s a slippery slope to talk about the drug companies involvement in diabetes. Type I diabetes can improve their life-expectancy and quality of life through diet and exercise, too; but even with all that, they will still be dependent on insulin for the rest of their lives. But Type II diabetes are where the money is and how can drug companies make money if all Type II diabetics are controlling, or mostly controlling their disease with diet and exercise!

    • Thanks Simone for this info on the difference between the two type of diabetes. Very helpful!

  • Kelly Pinkham


  • jeff durand

    This article is spot on.  The real problem isn’t being addressed because people have been pre-programmed to think a certain way.  

    Also, I know this isn’t your fault because your ads are likely served by a 3rd party provider.  But, you may want to put a better filter on the Glam ads.  When I first came to the site there was an ad for Pillsbury crescent rolls.  After reading your posts it seems clear that this is not the type of food you would want to be promoting.  Just saying, that it doesn’t help your credibility when you are advertising the same stuff you are telling people not to eat. 

    • Ugh. I hate that! Thanks for letting me know. I should see if I can tell Glam no food ads at all because it is never food I would recommend.

  • Lazy Budget Chef

    Being overweight and eating a high fat, high sugar diet can be a factor if diabetes runs in your family. I know this because it runs in my family and no matter how well I eat and exercise it could be in my future. Hopefully, when I am a little old lady because I adopted a low fat low sugar diet years ago as a preventative measure. Lack of exercise is a BIG part of the obesity and diabetes puzzle that no one talks about. With the advance of computers, we are a sedentary society and have health issues because of it.

  • Deb

    Thank you so much for this!  I, too, was wondering why no one addressed the issue of high carbs and diabetes when this story broke.  Perhaps our being misled for so many years by the government and nutritionists has blinded our society to the real culprit.  Our society consumes so many worthless carbs on a daily basis and would rather believe the lie that fat makes us fat because they can’t stand the thought of giving up the carbs!

  • Stephen

    You will find “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes enlightening in this regard. Not only to understand the real causes of this disease, but also in terms of how the politics of science and … errr…. politics has resulted in a distorted “healthy eating” message that promotes carbs over protein. A quick summary of many of Taubes points can be heard in his interview on EconTalk here –

    • I just got that book from the library!

  • MtnMama

    As a physician, I have to disagree with you. Sugar alone does NOT cause diabetes. Obesity does.  When people who are overweight are able to get back down to a healthy weight, medical problems associated with their weight (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes) often go away. While eating carbs may certainly lead to a weight problem, which may lead to diabetes, carbs are not the sole and direct cause. You’ve lost some credibility from this previously-loyal reader!

    • I disagree with conventional medical wisdom on this one .. as do MANY. I won’t be apologizing for my progressive views any time soon. All that conventional wisdom that harps on saturated fats and obesity has done a great big nothing for us as a country and society.

      • Wendy

        As long as people believe that diet soda is better for you than raw cashews because they have too many calories…those of us who think progressively (which I’m coming to realize is actually regressive) will have to continue the good fight against all current wisdom in hopes that for our children it will not be in vein.

  • Hondachick123

     She can do what she wants, it’s her body. Nobody is forcing anyone to cook her food or buy her cookbooks.

  • Purvi

    I agree with the overload of refined flours and sugars in our diets and thanks for this post. However I think the approach is about balance – balance in food (appropriate amounts of carbs, fibers, proteins, fats are all required for the sustainance), balance in lifestyle (active vs non active, stress vs relaxation) are overall the keys to a healthy life. Its hard to achieve – this balance thing, but going extreme in any direction is not beneficial in my belief.

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for saying exactly what I wanted to say. Diabetes is NOT caused by fat. Carbs certainly will and do cause a plethora of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

  • Brandi384

    Bacon isnt Paleo, but I keep seeing it in Paleo dishes (images online). And people saying that bacon isn’t bad, but every diet says to avoid fatty meats like bacon.  Can you help me figure this one out?

  • Brandi384

    Bacon isnt Paleo, but I keep seeing it in Paleo dishes (images online). And people saying that bacon isn’t bad, but every diet says to avoid fatty meats like bacon.  Can you help me figure this one out?

    • Brandi, most diets are just plain wrong. There is nothing wrong with dietary fat. In fact I tripled my fat intake recently and lost 20 pounds. The only reason I see to avoid bacon is the chemicals used to cure it. You can get preservative free bacon though, it is just pricier.

      • Brandi384

        the diets I am referring to are the Paleo and Primal diets.  those are wrong?

        • Most paleo/primal folks, web sites, books have no issue with uncured bacon. I have read a couple primal books that recommend lean meats but bacon is usually accepted as a paleo food.

          • Brandi384

            thank you for clearing that up!