Paula Deen’s Diabetes – a Physicians Perspective

Your Body Never Lies

Bourdain calls out Deen

Paula Deen who crafted a remarkable, high profile career with her Southern style of cooking, delivered with Southern style charm, announced her diagnosis of  adult onset diabetes (type 2). Now the judgments are pouring in: her food and lifestyle led her to this diagnosis and the pundits are asking for her to “repent.”

As a physician let me be clear here:

Paula Deen’s diabetes is not a deserving fate for what she cooked, it is more a matter of genetics than anything else. For those who are unlucky enough to have the genetic code that predisposes them to diabetes, the odds are they will become its victim, as they get older.  Even the most “in shape” individual, who eats “right” who has the genetics for diabetes can no more avoid that than you can avoid a car accident  if someone misses a stop sign because they are texting.

Perhaps I am jaded – as someone who researches diets and performs weight loss surgery- I’m reminded that HL Mencken said that physicians are not suppose to offer repentance but absolution.  But a body never lies, and while we don’t know the “right” diet,  we do know that  certain foods can kill you.

While the news enjoys the pseudo-feud going on between Deen and one of my favorite writers-chef Anthony Bourdain, we in medicine hope that Paula Deen is using her celebrity to benefit millions who are diagnosed with diabetes. She is also cashing in a check from a sponsoring company;  isn’t that the American way?

The real quote from Bourdain is one anybody can respect, “Honestly, I have no ill will toward her personally. I respect anybody who’s had a trajectory like hers. But I don’t like the brand. If her shtick is food that’s going to rush you along your way to diabetes, then it’s not a brand I particularly like. I am the last person in the world to be advocating for any kind of healthy eating or lifestyle. The only distinction between us, actually, is that my show comes with a parental advisory and hers doesn’t.”

I won’t endorse Paula Deen’s cooking as “healthy” and most of it would cause blood sugar to rise higher than it should.  Food can kill you, but it cannot cure you. Hopefully Paula Deen will use her celebrity to advocate for diabetes education and awareness.  I also wouldn’t mind if she would come out with a few recipes that won’t raise the blood sugar as much as twinkie pie. And just to be fair– eating a little less of poison doesn’t mean it is being “moderate” it just means you are being less stupid. Besides- you can’t eat just one. So, Ms. Deen- lets see some new recipes.

Until then, I’ll be watching Bourdain eat camel cheeks in some far away place, wishing I was there with him.

Wondering if Bourdain needs a doctor in his travels

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, then became a renowned weight loss surgeon, and a leading advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he advocates teaching people to improve their health through their food. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcom Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit


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