Paula Deen and Diabetes: Smuggery in Action

Good morning, friends and lovers, how was your weekend?

Mine was okay. Friday, when I totally promised myself to write about Mode Merr (I will soon, I double promise) took an unexpected turn as I discovered when you live on the beach and the weather is perfect year ’round, that the appropriate length for a Friday lunch is just about five hours and involves a trip into town for a cultural event/random people watching, a leisurely lunch of aquatic foodstuffs and the mandatory accompanying cervezas, an even more leisurely stroll on the beach with the occasional smooch (recommended) and watching the minor league futbol team train in the sand (HIGHLY recommended) all topped off with a cafecito at home.

Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday was all fun and games, literally and Sunday. Well, let’s just say introducing the local population to Lemon Drops (straight shots of vodka with a sugar-coated lemon wedge as a chaser) was not the kindest thing I’ve done to my host country, so this morning –and not for the last time, I suspect– I uttered the phrase “I love you, but I warned you and I am NOT cleaning that up.”

Boys.

So while the shining stars of central American athletics were trying to locate their livers, dignity and any of my four complete (and thankfully tiled) bathrooms, all with little success, I was toodling around the internet for News of the Fats.

First up is this smug little article about Paula Deen getting type 2 diabetes. Honestly I don’t know much about her other than a few clips I’ve caught on the internet. From what I can tell, she makes high fat soul food . Okay. And?

Listen, if you’re going to make traditional soul food, it’s going to be high fat, it’s the nature of the southern fried beast.

Sure, she revels in her use of butter and other high fat ingredients, but it’s her shtick. Celebrity chefs gotta have a gimmick and that’s hers. Now I’m not going to pretend to say there isn’t possibly a correlation between eating high fat foods all the time and getting diabetes, but it ain’t that simple and pretending only fat people get sick is ridiculous, harmful and just another brick in the socially-acceptable wall of fat shaming.

Also, in 20 years or so, when our young, thin, vegan stars get osteoporosis, which is far less likely to affect a woman whose diets are chock-full of dairy and who carry a little extra weight on their frames, how many people are going to be smug about that, saying they had it coming?

I’ll have more for you tomorrow, someone just woke up downstairs and there are loud and pained cries for menudo. I sort of hope they mean the soup. But then again, I sort of don’t.

20 Responses to “Paula Deen and Diabetes: Smuggery in Action”

  1. Thea January 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    I’m so glad you brought that up Plummie. I’ve been steaming because ABC news reported last week that statin drugs used to treat high chlolesteral have been found to increase chances of diabetes in women BY 50%!

    But I have yet to see the garment renders, who have been blaming the dramatic increase in cases of diabetes on fatness instead of big pharma, apologize to the world for all the fat shaming and blaming they have been doing…not a bit…we’re still busy shaming little kids in Georgia

  2. catrandom January 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Ah, the joys of fat shaming.

    Someone should make a video: “Sorry, It Doesn’t Get Better for You.”

    VO: Are you bullied by your classmates? Do people insult you to your face and make fun of you behind your back? Do you feel like you will never, ever fit in?

    Well, fat kid, I’d just like to let you know: It doesn’t get better. The insults, bullying, harassment, and discrimination will follow you into college, the workplace, dating, and all of your adult life. The government you elect and that your taxes pay for will judge you and insult you and encourage others to do the same.

    If you have kids — and it may happen, since making love to fat people isn’t illegal yet — and your children take after you, you can look forward to their being treated the same way. And it will be your fault, because you passed along your fat genes. Not, of course, that anyone will acknowledge that there is any meaningful genetic component to being fat, because that would just be an excuse.

    Sound bad? Well, if you’re ever unhappy about how you are being treated, just speak up. And the response you will hear, over and over again, forever, is: SO JUST STOP BEING THE WAY YOU ARE.

    As Jennifer Hudson was paid very well to assure you, nothing you accomplish in your life will ever count as anything but a “can’t” unless you are thin and pretty. You can expect people in every area of your life, from the media you see and hear to the health care workers you hire to your own family, to try their best to make you hate who you are. And if they succeed and you come to hate yourself, that STILL WON’T BE ENOUGH. The only thing that matters is that you conform, or, as a poor substitute, spend your life trying. Or die trying, if it comes to that.

    Take it from a former fat kid: It doesn’t get better.

    (end rant)

  3. Twistie January 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    And all of this hand-wringing is coming before the rumor is even confirmed.

    Does Paula Deen have Type II Diabetes? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. The diagnosis isn’t exactly an immediate death sentence. After all, Mr. Twistie was diagnosed nearly nineteen years ago and still has his eyesight, all his extremities, and even his sense of humor.

    I recently read Gesine Bullock-Prado’s autobiography in which she talks about how her mother took up veganism as a fairly young woman in order to avoid cancer. When she was eventually diagnosed with terminal cancer (I can’t recall offhand which kind) her first reaction was to get really mad about all the good food she’d avoided for decades trying to avoid a disease she got anyway. She went back to eating what she felt like for as long as she could.

    My advice? Eat according to your tastes and conscience, try to balance things a bit here and there, enjoy the hell out of your food whenever possible, and recognize that it is neither medicine nor poison. Disease is not the price you pay for enjoying a guilt-free meal.

    As for Ms. Deen… I hope that whether or not she has diabetes that she will just go on her way being her, no matter what anyone else thinks of her personal choices. And anyone who doesn’t like her cooking? Can do what I do with most of it and just freaking not cook or eat it.

  4. Madame Suggia January 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Well I truly hope Ms Deen doesn’t have any kind of illness, condition or health problem that shortens her life.

    But I simply cannot forgive her for her ‘Lady’s Brunch Burger’ recipe; rumor has it that this consists of a hamburger patty, mushrooms, and bacon (so far, so good) on a…doughnut. A glazed doughnut. A GLAZED DOUGHNUT.

    That’s some nasty stuff.

    Doesn’t excuse the fat-hating smugness (nothing ever does) but still nasty.

  5. Monica Quijada January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Completely off topic, you made me smile with your menudo reference. As you were describing your lunch and subsequent bender, I thought to myself, “I hope someone gives them some menudo.” Glad you are enjoying the new culture!

  6. Wendy January 17, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    The thing that ticks me off about this is the implication that it’s the FAT in her diet that contributed to her getting diabetes. And that’s a load of codswallop. Dietary fat doesn’t make you fat – that putative correlation, and the correlation of dietary fat to cholesterol, and the correlation of cholesterol to heart disease – have been debunked. There isn’t a single scientific study that has been able to prove any of those connections, and in fact there are numerous studies that have proven that the correlations don’t exist.

    Diabetes is linked to obesity, which is linked to sugar. Argh.

  7. Gryph January 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Well, I am just sad to learn that there are so many smug articles on the internet about it.

    Jezebel posted this gem: http://jezebel.com/5875975/paula-deen-has-diabetes

    For those of you who don’t click through, it is a headline saying “Paula Deen has Diabetes” Followed by pictures of Paula and captioned “butter, y’all”

    CLASSY.

  8. Violet January 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    While agreeing with Wendy above, I want to add Diabetes is primarily linked to fat around abdomen. Not all obese people are equal. It is more tightly linked to waist circumference and the distribution of fat in the body.

    It could happen to skinny-fat people who look thin but have high body fat around their tummy.

  9. dareva January 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Madame Suggia,I heard of a similar burger some years ago called a “Luther Burger” (for Luther Vandross) so I don’t think I will blame her too much for that one.

    My late maternal grandmother, who was skinny all her life (the only time she ever gained any weight was when pregnant, and it always came off her very soon after delivering her babies), would be the first to tell everyone that it’s stupid to make a fuss over OMG FATTIES GETTING DIABEETUS–she died from complications of type II in 1999. Skinny as a rail, still.

  10. ZaftigWendy January 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Type 2 Diabetes is a GENETIC disease. Purely. 100% genetic. Eating ALL THE FAT and ALL THE SUGAR will not give you diabetes. Having fat around your abdomen will not give you diabetes. Eating high-fructose corn syrup will not give you diabetes.

    In order to get diabetes, you have to have a defect in one or more of 17 genes found to be associated with diabetes (TCF7L2, HNF4-a, PTPN, SHIP2, ENPP1, PPARG, FTO, KCNJ11, NOTCh3, WFS1, CDKAL1, IGF2BP2, SLC30A8, JAZF1, HHEX, UCP2, Calpain-10). The more of these genetic defects you have, the sooner your diabetes will manifest and the worse it will be. Count your blessings if you have only a couple!

    In addition, conditions in the womb can affect these genetic factors. If your mother dieted while pregnant with you, it can turn on a faulty “diabetes-gene.” If you were exposed to certain toxins (PCBs and certain insecticides) as a fetus, it can affect the genes that cause diabetes.

    Yes, diabetes can be somewhat controlled through diet, but not long-term. ALL diabetics end up on medications of some sort eventually, because you cannot cure or prevent diabetes purely by eating right.

    I say again, Type 2 Diabetes is a GENETIC DISEASE! You don’t have to worry about getting it just because you’re fat. You can’t be sure you won’t get it just because you’re thin. Only if you have family members with Diabetes are you at risk.

    Oh, and you may not know if family members have it. My family is VERY fat-hating and VERY blame-the-victim in their attitudes. That means that diabetic family members DO NOT TELL ANYONE that they have this “horribly shameful” disease for fear that they’ll be shamed and hated on.

    We will not find a cure until we stop blaming the victims!

    I claim my diabetes and I claim my fat! I didn’t cause them, but I own them and they are a part of me and I take responsibility for living my life with fierce joy, regardless!

  11. Amy January 18, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    I read the brief article about Paula Deen and her diabetes. I liked her comment when they asked her if this means her show is suddenly going to become “healthy oriented.” Look, its Paula. The woman loves her some butter (at least that’s her schtick). Her comment about changing her eating habits to suddenly only stick with “healthy” cooking was that she was not going to do it. Any food is fine in moderation. And she’s right. Is eating triple bacon cheesburgers every meal a great idea? Um, no. Is only eating a diet of carrots and celery sticks a great idea? No. You have to have balance in your life.

    As to the YOU ONLY GET DIABETES IF YOU ARE FAT, please. What a load of bull. In 2007, at the age of 25, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The doctor who diagnosed me told me the sole reason (and I should note that she had my ENTIRE medical file, including family history, in front of her) I was being diagnosed with Type 2 was because I was hugely overweight. I needed to drop the weight now or I wouldn’t live to see 40. All my other tests including blood pressure, oxygen rates, cholesterol, heart rates would make the healthiest person cry in envy, they were so beautiful. But she didn’t like my A1C, and told me I did this to myself by not being a size 4. While I’m sitting in the chair, burning in shame and trying to hold back tears, she’s recommending lap band, plastic surgery to remove extra skin, and that my complexion would look MUCH better with the removal of some freckles I had scattered across my nose. That’s when I told her to go to hell, stood up and walked out. I went to another doctor who informed me that yeah, being 290 lbs probably wasn’t helping but my family history is really what caused my type 2 diabetes. Mom, paternal grandfather, and first cousin all have type 1. Maternal grandma, grandpa, and father type 2. And that is what drives me nuts about the media. They latch on to this OBESITY EPIDEMIC and say that is what is causing all of our problems. Can’t everyone just try to strive for balance in their lives and understand that we are not built to all look the same?!

  12. Liz January 18, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    @ZaftigWendy:

    Are you not talking about Type 1 diabetes as a genetic illness? (Genuine question.)

    Also, I don’t think saying that a disease is partly/wholly/whatever caused by lifestyle is “blaming the victim”. Maybe it’s just that I have a great doctor and very positive family and friends, but I don’t think that’s the case at all.

    Even if Type 2 diabetes is entirely down to lifestyle (which I don’t think anyone believes) that’s not “blaming the victim”, or fat bashing. Being fat and living the lifestyle that people claim causes diabetes are not the synonymous. Claiming that they are is what constitutes fat bashing and victim blaming.

  13. AnthroK8 January 18, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    @Liz both Types I & II are associated with heredity. I am not up on the most recent research on it, and @Zaftig Wendy obvs knows more about Type II than I do. But depending on who you ask, they will tell you Type I and Type II have different genetic things going on.

    In a way, they are two really different conditions with the same name. Type I diabetics have a pancreas that up and quit making insulin altogether. People with Type II diabetes produce insulin until they don’t, but their bodies can’t use it efficiently.

    My brother and I are freaks of medical science because we are the only two people with Type I in our extended family, and no one has Type II. The research types that think TI might be some genes/in utero environmental/associated with other autoimmune problems thing love asking for our blood, I tell you what.

    And, it’s not just behavior that makes over 40% of members of Pima Indian communities have Type II, nor that they have diabetes very young and across body types, for example.

    But as far as generally accepted science goes, genes will be factors in both conditions. Just maybe not the same genes, for the same reason.

  14. Jamie January 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Why are you such a better writer than everyone else on the internet? Can’t you clone yourself twenty times and take over Gawker?

  15. BrooklynShoeBabe January 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I have type 2 diabetes and I never made one Paula Deen dish. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!

    Seriously, I was hoping something like this would never happen because I liked pulling out the Deen card anytime someone said fat people who eat butter are the only ones getting diabetes.

    On a side note, when I was pregnant, on bed rest and suffering from morning sickness well into my 5th month, I loved watching Paula Deen. It was like food porn.

  16. KESW January 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Wendy #1 — Gold star on pointing out the great butter frame-up. I am so sick of hearing healthy fats maligned constantly by the people who recommend copious Cheerio consumption, and I’m glad to know there’s someone else out there shaking her head.

    Wendy #2 (Zaftig) — I don’t know what the future holds for her, but I want to speak out for one Type 2 diabetic (my mother) who has, since her diagnosis, turned her life and diet around and is now OFF (with her doctor’s recommendation and blessing) her diabetes meds. And I say this not to shame others who suffer from the disease, but to maybe give some hope that life can retain some amount of normalcy after a diabetes diagnosis. And also because I am damn proud of my beautiful mama and her hard work in learning how to eat healthy after so many years of bad habits.

  17. Violet January 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    @ZaftigWendy

    This is interesting development I am not aware of. My understanding of genetic conditions was opposite to you what you say, i.e., the tendency to abdominal fat deposits is due to genetic inheritance, which in turn causes diabetes.

    Although sadly, it doesn’t help me personally. Both my parents, at least 2 maternal aunts and 1 paternal aunt, 2 maternal uncles, 1 grand parent have type 2. Very impressive heritage, isn’t it? :)

    My grand mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 30 years ago. She was without medication for first 10 years then went to medication for next 15 and now on injected insulin. She refused to change her life style and still thrives on white rice, occasional mangoes and bananas. At 76, she is still going strong. I won’t say this holds for everyone but diabetes is not a death sentence.

  18. AnthroK8 January 19, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    @Violet- actually it is an impressive heritage, if you believe James Neel. Who said type diabetes ii was a trait selected FOR when food insecurity was a bigger problem than food abundance. His theory was that insulin resistance was a way of conserving energy for individuals in populations with risk of famine. He called this the thrifty genotype hypothesis.

    Which is all just a way of saying, human evolution is not punishing people with a quirk of nature problem when they develop diabetes. And that we’re living, by and large, with the results of a genetic heritage adapted for a different kind of environment than we have now.

    The Green Revolution’s move to abundant simple carbs, communities where you can’t walk for transport if you want to actually go anywhere, and post-industrialization’s required sedentary work patterns can be to “blame” if we want to “blame” anything for high rates of diabetes in the American population.

  19. ZaftigWendy January 20, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    There is still MUCH that is not known about type 2 diabetes. And thanks, AnthroK8, because yes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are totally different diseases. They have some of the same symptoms, but in type 1 the pancreas is completely unable to make insulin at all. Type 1 diabetics MUST take insulin and can never be weaned off it. It can be genetic, or can result from injury to the pancreas – I have a very beloved friend who got type 1 diabetes after a car accident.

    Current thinking is that either type 2 diabetes causes obesity in some people or that obesity and type 2 diabetes are caused by the same thing in some people or some mix of the above.

    Also, the type 1/type 2 dichotomy is somewhat misleading, as researchers are finding more sub-types of each one.

    This is all a very long way to say that the diabetes issues are far too complex to be reduced to a headline and that it is irresponsible to assume that we magically “know” things that researchers who specialize in diabetes still aren’t sure about.

    But – there is one thing they have become sure about: If you don’t have the genes that are associated with (type 2) diabetes you CANNOT get it.

  20. ZaftigWendy January 20, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    KESW, I’m very glad to hear that your mom has been able to control her blood sugars so well! I’m also delighted that you’re so supportive!

    I hope she continues to have the same success for a very long time, and that if she ever does need to go back on medications, that she doesn’t allow herself to feel like a failure, but rejoices that she could put off med use for as long as possible!