Did Paula Deen Give Herself Diabetes?

paula deen butter pyramid
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the most likely word association you make when you hear the name “Paula Deen” is “butter.” As in, lots of it. Any episode of her show I’ve seen praises the mighty yellow stick as if it’s the second coming, and makes sure it’s slathered, melted, injected, creamed, or cut into every recipe possible, especially baked goods.

I remember watching a flurry of Food Network stuffing/dressing recipes for Thanksgiving, including Paula’s recipe, which largely seemed to be a batter mixed with about a dozen eggs poured over some bread cubes and liberally laced with twists of butter. And when she was done, she added another layer of butter. There was so much butter I actually stopped salivating and looked on in shock that any industry would promote such extreme butter usage. I wondered if Paula’s show was underwritten by the dairy industry.

(Just in case you were wondering, I think this is the stuffing recipe, though I think she embellished it even more on tv)

Now the news has broken that Paula has type 2 diabetes. Formerly considered “adult onset diabetes” because it doesn’t occur unless at-risk people who eat a consistent diet of highly processed foods such as white starches and sugars tend to develop it as they age, this disease is becoming more and more prevalent in younger people. In fact, current estimations are that one out of three people will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

It’s easy to point fingers at our modern diet, but we know better at this point: we know that diet is important and can contribute to the risk of developing diabetes, but diet and lifestyle alone does not create type 2 diabetes. People who have a genetic predisposition for diabetes are more likely to develop it over time, and it’s even possible for those people to do so while following a healthful diet.

Paula didn’t “give” herself diabetes, however the lifestyle she promotes through her decadent recipes didn’t improve her chances for not developing it, either. And they also promote an unhealthful diet for people with any health condition risk.

Diabetes is only one of many conditions contingent on a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, we don’t know who is more likely to be susceptible to this disease. The best thing any of us can do is make sure we have a healthy diet of whole grains, high fiber, fruit and vegetables, and lean meats. And don’t forget exercise!

That doesn’t mean it’s bad to have a little butter or sugar here and there because that’s not what’s going to give you diabetes. Keep in mind that your chances of getting type 2 diabetes may be out of our control, but your lifestyle is, and type 2 is fully treatable and even reversible if you eat healthfully and exercise.


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