By now, most of have heard the news that celebrity Chef Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes. Known for her southern drawl and her fat filled comfort foods, the connection between food and disease in this situation is undeniable. Many are angered at Paula Deen for not coming out with her diagnosis two years ago when she was first diagnosed. Some have even called her hypocritical. Further anger has been generated over her being “caught” eating a hamburger and fries.
Yet, when stories like this take off in the media of this magnitude, it’s a wonderful time for all of us to take pause and reflect on the issue that has been brought to the forefront and take action, rather than judge. Diabetes is the 7th cause of death in the United States. The good news is that type 2 diabetes is completely preventable and reversible with the proper dietary and exercise changes.
About 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates another 79 million Americans over age 20 have pre-diabetes, or elevated glucose levels.
There are two major forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is the most common. Type 2 is often called adult-onset diabetes because it develops over time due to low activity levels and a poor diet that causes excess body weight. Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, lower limb amputations, heart disease and stroke.
Beyond fat, our massive intake sugar is a huge culprit in the diabetes epidemic. Sugar is an opiate. It dulls physical and emotional pain of all kinds. In our fast paced society that often eats sweets and other foods from emotional triggers, it’s safe to say we need to cut down on sugar, and incorporate other ways to increase opiates in our brains and bodies. Laughter, exercise, meditation, and even sex all do this.
USA Today reported that Paula Deen is now walking a mile or more a day on a treadmill and is no longer drinking sweet tea. She has apparently dropped a clothing size since her diagnosis, but she is not perfect and that serves as a reminder that none of us our either.
That’s a start.
As for the rest of the 26 million Americans with diabetes, focusing on two wellness initiatives will dramatically decrease the number”
1) Increase physical activity with at least 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week. This will help the body use insulin more effectively, help lower high blood sugars and improve cardiovascular health.
2) Set a reasonable weight-loss goal, such as losing one-two pounds a week until an ideal goal weight is reached. Cut back dramtically on anything white like sugar, rice, pasta and bread and replace with whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
It’s not about deprivation. We all love a good southern drawl and comfort food from time to time. Moderation is the key. 90% of the time, we should fuel our bodies with what it truly needs to run on an optimum level. The other 10% can be spent indulging in life’s food pleasures.