What Paula Deen's diabetes diagnosis can teach Latinas

So, were you really that surprised to hear that Paula Deen had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? I mean, anyone who has ever seen a single episode of her cooking show knows that butter and sugar are her two favorite ingredients in the whole wide world.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and it develops as a direct result of a poor diet. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease are also overweight. Family history, genetics and low activity level are also factors when it comes to developing Type 2 diabetes. So again, I ask, why was anyone surprised to hear that everyone's favorite down home Southern cooking queen had the disease?


Unfortunately, Type 2 diabetes is also incredibly common among Latinos and can be directly tied to our love for all things fried and the excessive use of fattening ingredients in a ton of our favorite foods. Like Deen, not a lot of people in our community realize how easy it is to develop this disease or how grave the consequences can be. Deen was diagnosed three years ago, but didn't want to make any kind of announcement until she was confident she had enough tools and knowledge at her disposal to really help her fans.

Obesity greatly increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and indulging in the kind of greasy foods Deen and many Latinos love greatly increases the chance of obesity...see where I'm going here? The thing is, most of us cling on to these foods because--similar to Deen's down home recipes--they provide a certain sense of comfort and connection to our roots. I get it, I LOVE me some pasteles (my record is 6 in one day, yikes!) and don't even let me get within 100 yards of a cuchifrito joint, but I'm also hyper-aware of the fact that diabetes runs in both sides of my family and that I'm going to have to be very proactive if I want to avoid a fate similar to Deen's.

My approach is to indulge only every so often in my favorite comfort foods, and to walk and be as active as I possibly can every day. I also try to modify certain recipes that I love using olive oil and other "good" fats instead of manteca and I avoid sugary beverages (i.e. soda) like the plague. Turns out my ideas aren't all that revolutionary. On her new website diabetesinanewlight.com, Deen shares delicious recipes for classic comfort foods like lasagna that are tweaked to drastically lower the fat and caloric intake. She also told USA Today that once she found out how many empty sugar calories her favorite sweet tea had, she stopped drinking it immediately. If she can make the change, we all can!

Does diabetes run in your family? Do you have diabetes? Are you trying to avoid developing the disease?

Photo: Digitas Photos, flickr

Topics: diabetes  diseases  health care  latino health  womens health  tips  weight loss