Butter (Alone) Won’t Give You Type 2 Diabetes

The famously endearing Southern cook, Miss Paula Deen, finally shared a little something other than a pie recipe – she has Type 2 Diabetes. She’s had it for three years. She’s now coming out as the spokesperson for Novo Nordisk (pharmaceutical drug, marketing and research company).

…..is anybody shocked? Of course not.

Did everyone already hear this news 10 times over throughout the past 48 hours? I know; {hand-raised} me too.

paula-deenI’m not here to share a snarky opinion about Paula, her recipes or her decision to get paid by “Big Pharma”. To be honest, I heart that deep southern drawl and her consistently friendly, upbeat, fun attitude. I sort of love that she adds a long “Y’allll” to the end of everything, flashes her pearly whites more often than not, and calls people “Honey”. I wish her the best in the management of this life-long disease – it’s not an easy diagnosis to take on.

But, there’s an opportunity for education, and it appears she’s decided to skip that route.

“Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself.”
-Paula Deen, herself

Well, Ms. Deen, that’s the issue. There still seems to be quite a disconnect between what we eat, and how it effects our health. That is a problem. You are a cook, you are in the public eye, and the way you eat is not too different from how many other Americans dine.

She’s since been criticized for not giving up butter,  or her deep fryer. It’s highly unlikely that those two things alone led to the development of this chronic condition. Her high-fat, high-sugar, ‘southern-style’ recipes certainly played an big starring role, but the big picture comes together with a few outlying puzzle pieces.

Type 2 Diabetes is still being researched intensely in all respects. It accounts for 90-95% of all Diabetes cases in the United States, and yet we still aren’t entirely sure how people “get it”.  We do have a few things figured out, though.

Did you know that…

  • Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) was once called “Adult Onset” Diabetes – almost all cases were reported in adults, not children. Well, childhood obesity spiked and suddenly we’re seeing kids being diagnosed with Type 2 DM. Now it’s referred to as “Non-Insulin Dependent DM”.
    • It develops as the body becomes resistant to insulin. The pancreatic cells still produce insulin, in most cases, but the body doesn’t utilize it effectively or efficiently. This is the difference between Type 1 & Type 2.
  • It occurs slowly over time; people could have it for years without knowing.
  • The top 3 risk factors (before genetics) are – Low activity level, poor diet & excess body weight around the waist (i.e. fat distribution).
  • Increased body fat makes it more difficult for your body to use insulin correctly – this is applicable to people who are overweight or appear to be at a healthy weight.
  • Many Type 2 DM patients can control the disease with improved diet and increased physical activity alone. No drugs needed! Even some people who take medications have been able to improve their lifestyle, through diet and exercise, enough so that they can be taken off of medication. Examples in the spotlight – Biggest Loser contestants.

ApplesRun FeetChickpea salad

Hopefully you learned something new! As this disease becomes increasingly prevalent in the American population, I think it’s important to know where the prevention (and management) opportunities exist.  Type 2 DM is not a death sentence by any means, and it’s not necessarily a pill-a-day-for-life.

There aren’t a lot of things that I feel “preachy” about, but I suppose this falls into that category. Save money on pills; cook healthier meals, fight your genetics and incorporate some exercise into your day. You are responsible for the choices you make every day – just you.

Paula can choose the medication, continue to cook with her southern charm, and hopefully her health will stable. If nothing else, you’ve got options with her recipes, as her son changes ‘em up. And you’ve got a few more facts in your brain that will hopefully keep your blood sugar from spiking!



Filed under Dietitians, food, in the News, Nutrition, what to eat

21 responses to “Butter (Alone) Won’t Give You Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Great post Heather. I agree that we all have to be responsible for the way we choose to fuel our body but at the same time–not everybody is educated about how to eat healthy meals. Paula is out there as a major example to other Americans. The thing that really breaks my heart about this topic are the children.

  2. Well-said, friend. I tend to agree – I’m not out to “get” Paula Deen at all either, but she IS in the spotlight and should use that to her advantage to educate, even just a little bit. Sure she’s no expert, but she can partner with experts and use her celebrity power to shine a light on the diabetes issue. Hopefully she’ll change her tune on that one.

  3. I totally agree; she should take some responsibility for what she is pushing onto us. She is almost a household name,when it comes to cooking, so she should be warning people about the dangers of certain foods she makes. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

  4. Great post!! It’s really a shame that she would choose meds over a few simple lifestyle changes. Then again, look at the endorsement deal she secured!

    Thanks for the info.

  5. Great write up girl! Seriously, I wish everyone would take just a moment and analyze their diet’s, their exercise habits (or lack thereof) and just start taking the small steps to get back on the healthier end of the spectrum. We have family and friends that are poster children for Type 2 and it kills me inside that they just can’t take the small steps to get headed into the right direction.

  6. I have a friend who is diabetic, and controls it 100% by watching her diet, no drugs needed. I would hope Paula starts paying attention to what her son is doing. Even if she wants to continue with her same cooking style, it would be nice to offer some healthier alternatives (like, replace butter with applesauce, or note that you really don’t need quite so much of it!)

  7. Thanks for the post! Had no idea about PD! It is sad someone with so much influence would choose not to take this opportunity to educate her viewers…but I guess education is only one part. Each person has to take their choices in their own hands…and try to make good ones! Thanks for sharing…and one little note, it is diabetes mellitus! 🙂 keep up the good work!

  8. I’ve been kind of following this, and my initial reaction was to be incredibly pissed that she didn’t take advantage of this situation to turn it into something educational. I mean, I get that she is southern and there’s a “style” of cooking to uphold, but as a Famous Person, she could definitely have a huge influence on other people dealing with the disease that need a diet overhaul. I don’t know. The whole situation makes me grumpy.

  9. JJ

    Why is is Paula Deen’s responsibility to teach us about diabetes? Is it Kim Kardashian’s responsibility to teach us about marriage? Yes, I do believe Paula Deen could have done things differently, but she is not required to share her medical diagnosis with anybody. I certainly agree she is not cooking health food, but it is my choice to eat that way and to what extent. What about personal responsibility of each individual who might watch her show or purchase a cook book?

    • Heather C

      JJ, thanks for chiming in! I totally agree that she has no obligation to share the diagnosis, and is obviously free to choose her own path to treatment and management. She’s not responsible for dishing out healthy eating advice, and isn’t qualified to do so anyway. But, her quoting that she’s a cook, not a doctor, is pulling from the association of eating habits & health (in my opinion). I think overall the situation is just disappointing – she has celebrity, and an opportunity to use her voice for the better. Instead she claims to stick to her ways, and to be a “spokesperson” , instead of a role model.

      Either way, I saw this as an opportunity for education. 🙂

  10. Thanks for weighing in on this, Heather (no pun intended). I appreciate your putting it in perspective.

  11. Thank you for being insightful on this topic – it just makes me laugh and shrug my shoulders. Pretty much a “duh” moment, but it needs to be addressed properly.

  12. girl preach away! i got your back!

  13. Emily

    I have a lot of opinions on Paula Deen, but those aside, YES to all of this. Thanks for pointing out a few of the facts as everyone freaks out and loses sight of them 🙂

  14. Standing ovation! This has been SUCH a nightmare to talk about. I am really, really thankful you weighed in!

  15. Great weight in. The whole thing is frustrating and sad.

  16. I LOVE her son’s show!!!

  17. AGREED! I think it’s sad and hypocrytical that people are upset regarding her admission about her disease (3 years later…!). If she decides to change her lifestyle and cooking methods, that’s her choice..along with when and how she wants to inform her viewers of her personal life. At least she makes people interested in learning to cook instead of going to the local fast-food joints!

  18. Mamacita

    I believe the only reason she shared her diagnosis is because she is now on the payroll of a major pharmaceutical company who supplies her with insulin to control her diabetes. Thanks for the insightful post.
    Love, Mamacita

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