This article was originally published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.
By now, most of us know that Paula Deen — the celebrity TV chef who’s made a fortune promoting dishes such as doughnut-sandwiched burgers topped with buttered bacon and eggs — has diabetes.
I am deeply sympathetic to her right to privacy as she dealt with her health issues, but pardon my cynicism while I doubt that explanation for the three-year lag time — not when accompanied by the announcement of her lucrative spokesperson contract for a new diabetes drug costing $500 a month, and denials that her style of eating had anything to do with her illness.
Let’s be perfectly clear about two things:
1. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with lifestyle choices.
2. Type 2 diabetes is reversible with lifestyle choices.
There are no quick fixes
Genes matter. They set a predisposition, but only rarely do they determine our fate. We can move that predisposition from one end of the continuum to the other with decisions we make each day about food, sleep, exercise and stress management.
Is this more complicated than taking a pill? Does it take more of a commitment to your health and less reliance on quick pharmaceutical fixes for complex problems? Yes, indeed. But if you want all your parts to function as long as you’re going to use them, it’s a no-brainer.
Even with treatment, diabetics have a significantly higher risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia, kidney disease, blindness and amputations. You have a choice; don’t go there.
The rate of diabetes is increasing in every demographic category, not from genetics but from lifestyle, particularly the kinds of unhealthy high-fat, high-sugar foods that Deen profitably promotes.
Take control of your health
How can you begin to change your own course?
1. Eat more “real food.” If you’re reading ingredients, it’s processed, not real food. There are an infinite number of delicious ways to serve healthy lean proteins (chicken, fish, turkey, etc.), veggies, beans and fruit. Explore.
2. Reduce or eliminate sugars and refined foods. Almost everything packaged is sweetened, from cereals to breads to tomato sauce. Believe it or not, cravings will disappear if you eliminate these completely, and they drive you crazy if you “have a little.”
3. Make a distinction between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Plant fats are good for you, as are fats from pasture-raised animals. Don’t eliminate fat from your diet, just change the source.