Saturday, March 30, 2019

Retrospective #43: Paula Deen, Lessons Learned?


In early 2012 syndicated journalist Mike Luckovich REALLY “nailed” American TV personality and cooking show host Paula Deen with one of his brilliant 2-panel cartoons. In the first panel she says, “I got diabetes from the unhealthy recipes I peddle. Now I’m spokesperson for a diabetes drug…” In this panel she is surrounded by boxes and bags labeled ‘lard,’ ‘butter,’ ‘high fat grease,’ ‘salted sugar,’ and ‘buttered sodium.’ In the second panel she says, “…plus there’s my new book….,” which she’s holding. The title is, “Have Your Cake and Eat It Too.”
The cartoon is both hilarious and infuriating. It’s hilarious because hypocrisy is always a good target and ridicule the best weapon. It’s infuriating because Luckovich’s understanding of nutrition is completely, totally wrong. It’s doubly infuriating because Luckovich doesn’t know it is wrong; however, for ridicule to resonate with the reader – the average American – both he and they have to have the same misunderstanding of the message. And they do.
She has released a video on her web site addressing her diabetes, but she is inexplicably silent about which foods were responsible. One has to wonder if she even knows, if she has not obtained the best advice, or if it is just not financially advantageous for her to advocate a Way of Eating that is not supported by the packaged food industry.
I hate to be cynical, and I dislike piling on, even if I’m last on this pile, but Paula Deen is missing a big opportunity to really do some good, plus the chance to control her blood sugar without expensive medications and side effects.
First of all, fat didn’t make Paula Deen fat, so those blurbs labeled ‘lard’, ‘butter,’ and ‘high fat grease’ are simply wrong. The truth is simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, principally flour, make us fat. The body is designed to use glucose from sugars and refined carbs for energy before it uses fat.  So, if you are burning carbohydrates for energy, any fat you eat that isn’t needed for energy gets stored. That’s the way the body, from a paleolithic and neolithic perspective, saves energy for use after failed hunts, crop failures, and even during the occasional famine.
We didn’t always have a year-round food supply. Berries and other fruits were seasonal and not nearly as sweet as modern hybrids. My maternal grandparents, who were farmers, kept a root cellar. They also canned and pickled vegetables and ‘put up’ fruit preserves to eat during the non-growing season. It was just a survival thing.
Paula Deen’s fat build-up resulted from insulin resistance in the cells to which too much glucose (from sugars and refined carbs) was being transported by insulin. Eventually the pancreas burns out and its beta cells die. At this point, 80% of all T2’s are obese.  It’s good for everyone not to over work their pancreas, even if they are slender.
I’ve never seen the Paula Deen show -- only the video I mentioned – but she is getting a bad rap. Luckovich is only playing to the popular perception that fat makes you fat and diabetic. The truth is fat makes you fat only if you eat it with lots of ‘sugars’ (both simple sugars and refined carbohydrates). And it’s the sugar and refined carbs (flour) that over work the pancreas (making you diabetic) and the liver converting carbs to fat via de novo lipogenesis.
Some people have criticized Paula Deen for withholding news of her condition for a couple of years until she could get a drug company endorsement and book deal lined up. Others, among them “yours truly,” criticize her for not using her celebrity status and fan base to educate the public on what caused her to develop Type 2 diabetes.
The federal government (HHS/USDA) still recommends the Standard American Diet (ironically SAD), which is 60% carbohydrates (300g/d), 10% protein (50g/d), and 30% fat (+/-67g/d) on a 2000 calorie a day, woman’s diet plan. For men, it’s the same percentages: 375g/d carbs, 62.5g/d protein and +/- 83g/d fat.  That’s way too many carbs.
Try cutting carbs back to 150 or 100 grams of carbohydrate a day, 30% or 20% (vs. 300g or 60%) of a 2,000-calorie diet. Many people aim lower for 50 grams a day, and some go Very Low Carb (VLC) at 20 or 30 grams a day. Type 2 diabetics (and pre-diabetics) should try to eat in the VLC range for optimum blood sugar control and easy weight loss. When you eat carbohydrates at that level, all you ‘Paulas’ out there, you can eat butter and cream for energy, feel good and look great. Plus, you will save lots of money on food and medicine, and avoid the side effects.

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