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Fight Back Friday! Di-uh-betus Role Models Y’All!



Unless you live under a rock – you have heard that Paula Deen has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It is a horrible development in that woman’s life, and her life has changed for good after she received her diagnosis. Today’s Fight Back Friday has to do with food, and Diabetes.

So F*#ing What?

The rumors have been circulating for over a year – Paula has diabetes. Of course, her camp have been denying it. There’s an empire to manage, a BRAND to manage. The automatic assumption from most people is that her “lifestyle” contributed to her development of the disease. I mean, ALL THAT BUTTER! Of course she’s diabetic.

Not so fast.

She’s Diabetic? Duh, Y’all!

The assumption that type 2 Diabetes is caused by obesity – and by “logic” eating too much, and being lazy – puts the problem in a very simple, easy-to-understand light. If we ate less fat (or calories) and got off our fat asses, we all wouldn’t get diabetes.

Of course, it is more complicated than that, but the conventional wisdom is – at least for our simple minds – easy to understand.

The first thing I see from diabetics and non-diabetics alike upon hearing Paula’s “Confession” is the statement, “Well duh! Look how she eats! All that BUTTER, deep fried stuff, I’m not surprised.”

Paula’s staunchest critic, Anthony Bourdain wrote on Twitter: “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

I am a big fan of Bourdain, always have been, but even he assumes that it’s all about the lifestyle, and her diet. Like she is at fault for what happened to her. This from a man who needed to go on a Statin to keep eating his beloved pork. It’s easy to criticize when you’re standing in a glass house and all.

Diabetes – It’s not that simple.

True – Diabetes is made worse by diet and lifestyle. Saying that it’s the only reason you get diabetes is like saying that all people with lung cancer must have smoked, so they are at fault. If any of you have lost someone to lung cancer who didn’t smoke a day in their lives, you know how stupid the assumption is.

A friend of mine recently lost her mother to lung and esophagus cancer. What was the first question out of my mouth? You guessed it. How stupid did I feel after learning that she had never touched a cigarette?

People are getting diabetes at an alarming rate. We jumped from 5.6 million diabetics in 1980 to 19.7 million diabetics in 2009. (See the CDC information here.)

So, if we move more, and eat less fat?

Are we to say that the rates have been skyrocketing because we are eating way more fat, and exercising a lot less? I’m not sure of the statistics on that. Jenny Craig, SlimFast, Biggest Loser, and your local gym make BILLIONS yearly on telling us just that. It’s the golden key, the button. Hell, Jillian Michaels even says it’s simple math. “Eat less, move more! Calories in, calories out!!!”

We are getting fatter despite eating less fat, moving more, and following the guidelines set out by our government. The answer is not eating those chips that are baked instead of fried. The answer is way simpler… don’t eat the chips on a regular basis.

As an extension to that – perhaps processed food is better for us? Like, 0% yogurt, fat-free cheese, animals that have little to no fat, healthy whole grain pastas, etc. As a nation we need to be asking, “How’s that working for us?”

I contend that eating REAL food is the way to go. Food that comes the way nature intended. Of course, that’s the point of this blog.

Paula’s the new role model for type 2 diabetics?

With the announcement we are introduced to the new facet of her empire and brand. Paula’s given up her sweet tea, moves a bit more, and apparently manages her condition with “small life changes.”

Diabetes is not a death sentence. You don’t even need to change your lifestyle much. Just inject our drug, Y’all!

She’s not a role model, and shouldn’t be

It’s shockingly transparent how her brand’s relaunch is directly connected to the drug companies. In fact, if you check out the brand shiny new Novo Nordisk site’s Diabetes in a New Light, you can’t help but to see the footer is a full third of the fold, and hawking Victoza® as a prescription medicine that “may improve blood sugar (glucose) in adults with type 2 diabetes when used along with diet and exercise.”

I conclude that the message these two are hawking is, “Keep doing what you are doing, make some small changes in your diet and exercise, and inject our drugs – and you will be fine.”

  • Do I fault Paula for trying to make a difference? No.
  • Do I fault her for trying to cash in on her situation? No.
  • Do I fault the drug companies for trying to cash in? No.
  • The question really should be, “Do I plan on following Paula as a role model?”


Who do we look to for a role model?

That’s a great question. Why are we looking at celebreties for our inspirtiation? We don’t need Paula Deen to tell us how we should eat with diabetes. She is part of a Brand (with a capital “B”.) Whatever she is hawking is attached to that huge empire.

The role models are out there – part of the Diabetes Online Community. (The DOC.) People like:

  • Ginger Vieira,A Type 1 diabetic with Celiac disease – and an inspiration for all diabetics out there.
  • Richard Vaughn, (A type 1 diabetic that has lived with the disease for over 60 years!)
  • LizMari, (A Type 2 diabetic)
  • Richard Bernstein (A type 1 diabetic Endocrinologist who advocates a low-carb regime.)
  • Jenny Ruhl (A MODY Diabetic who runs the Blood Sugar 101 site that EVERY diabetic should read after diagnosis.)

There are also people over at TuDiabetes that are there to help. If you need to know how to eat to help manage your diabetes, (or for prevention,)  there are a lot of options. (Sometimes too many!)

There is no one-size fits all profile for diabetics. You are about to go on a journey of self-discovery. Have heart though, there are plenty of people out there.



{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Jan January 20, 2012, 10:30 am

    You know I agree with you. ;)

  • Jason Sandeman January 20, 2012, 10:44 am

    LOL @Jan – yes I do!

  • Nick (Macheesmo) January 20, 2012, 10:44 am

    I don’t care about what she cooks, eats, or writes about.

    What bothers me is the drug company relationship. The fact that she waited to disclose this until she had a signed endorsement just REEKS of slime.

    She’s making money by selling people a drug (delicious, salty food porn) and then making more money by selling them a real drug.

    Bourdain has it right. I used to defend her against his attacks, but no more. If you think she’s doing this for any reason other than money, you’re crazy.

  • vanillasugarblog January 20, 2012, 10:59 am

    what nick said.
    it bothers me that she will do what they want and go her “own” path.
    just like she did when all the animal abuse went down at her sponsors factory (smith ham); she could have stood up and stopped it and made a huge difference. instead she ignored it.
    celebs, moreso food celebs that don’t their own route make me not like them and not trust them.

    this was well written Jas.

  • Jason Sandeman January 20, 2012, 11:39 am

    @Nick – I agree with you on a couple of points. Paula isn’t really the problem. She just gave the people what they wanted… entertainment. In fact, don’t forget that the Food network started airing shows as entertainment.

    I doubt that Paula eats her version of Southern Food daily. If I thought that, I would have to conclude that it’s the norm for her to eat Krispy Kreme donut burgers. LOL

    You’re right, it does reek of slime – the relationship. I don’t buy that she needed to come forward to help – it’s ALL about money.

    That’s why she shouldn’t be (and hopefully isn’t) a role model.

    I also can’t really go down on the drug companies either – its just business as usual. They are just pushing what the people want (or a dream) that is – you can continue doing what you want to – with our drug of course.

    I can fault Novo Nordisk. Without their products, I wouldn’t be alive today. Do I fall for their slimy steamy platter of bullshit? That’s another story. LOL

  • Jason Sandeman January 20, 2012, 11:42 am

    @Dawn – exactly. She is all about the money. (at least those who manage her brand are.)

    You don’t bite the hand that feeds you – and the FN’s hand is directly attached to the arm of the producers of said garbage.

    That’s why I stopped watching it long ago – when it wasn’t about cooking (which I love,) but more about entertainment.)

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