One of the ironies is that the vast majority of the vitriol being leveled at Paula Deen's recipes is for the fat and calories they contain. Paul Campos (author of The Obesity Myth) is one of the only voices outside the low-carb community to mention that fat in the diet isn't what makes people diabetic, pointing to a large intervention study in which reducing fat in the diet did nothing to waylay diabetes. He also makes the point that many others have in the past (e.g. Gary Taubes) -- that there is a lot of evidence that the link between diabetes and obesity is probably backwards from the standard perception: that the process of diabetes starts long before the diagnosis of diabetes, and that process is what causes increased hunger and weight gain. It isn't a very far leap to imagine that the increased sugars and starches in the diet could have something to do with it. There is some evidence for this, and common sense would also tend to point us that direction, since diabetes basically consists of disturbed carbohydrate metabolism.
Another irony is that, though no one would say that Deen's recipes are "light", with a few notable exceptions they don't have much more fat than other standard recipes of their type (from, for example, my old Betty Crocker Cookbook). They do, however, have the problematic combination of fat and refined carbs that you would expect from recipes for the SAD (Standard American Diet). In fact, in looking through Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible in a bookstore yesterday, I noticed that well over half of the recipes in the book are dominated by carbohydrates. Even the vegetable section, which starts out with three recipes for grits, includes plenty of corn and potato recipes along with the greens and okra. This book was published in 2011, well after Deen's diabetes diagnosis. (In yet another layer of irony, she includes a recipe for "healthy" macaroni and cheese (low in fat with whole wheat pasta), for her son who is "a health nut" and is "on a health kick". This is actually pretty close to what many people preach is a good food for diabetics (similar to the one recipe on her new Web site), and yet she pokes fun at it, and at people who are apparently "nuts" for wanting to eat in a way that helps them to be "healthy".)
As Jimmy Moore points out on his Livin' La Vida Low-Carb blog, perhaps the biggest tragedy in all of this is that Paula Deen could be using her celebrity to point people to diet and lifestyle changes that will truly help control their blood sugar. She could have brought us along on her diabetic journey, talking about how different foods affect her own blood glucose readings, and developed recipes that would keep it stable. Instead she "comes out" after publishing her cookbook "Bible", and tells us she representing a drug company. What a disappointment all the way around -- both in Deen and in commentators like Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
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