June 27, 2012 at 1:55 PM ET
Paula Deen has been making big changes in her diet, and it’s paying off.
Deen, the Southern chef known for her love of butter and the deep fryer, was much maligned
for promoting a high-fat diet when she revealed her type 2 diabetes diagnosis in January. She had kept her condition under wraps for three years.
Since sharing her diabetes diagnosis, she tells People magazine, she’s lost 30 pounds, dropping from a size 18 to a size 10.
“I feel a thousand times better,” Deen, 65, tells People, adding that she gives herself an injection every day to control her blood-sugar levels. “I have more energy, I sleep better. The weight loss has made my health issues better.”
In a cover story due out Friday, Deen tells People she is thinking differently about food these days.
“I do think differently,” about food, Deen tells People. She said she eats more green salads and veggies. And as for carbs? “Just a spoonful,” she allows. And dessert is sugar-free ice cream topped with berries, the magazine reports.
Fried food is mostly off the menu.
For someone with type 2 diabetes, changing your diet and losing weight are “the major modifiers” of the disease, says endocrinologist Dr. Osama Hamdy, medical director of the obesity clinical program at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Those two things can sometimes be even more effective than medications, he said.
The body needs glucose, or sugar, to work properly, Hamdy says. Insulin is the “key” that opens the door to the body’s organs and tissues to allow the glucose in.
In type 2 diabetes, the body cannot metabolize sugar correctly, because either the pancreas is not making enough insulin or the body is resisting its own insulin. With the glucose locked out, too much sugar builds up in the bloodstream, causing type 2 diabetes.
A major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is weight gain because it makes the body not responsive to its own insulin, Hamdy says. But shedding pounds can reverse the course of the disease, he said.
“Weight loss is the key to improving diabetes management and the weight loss can also lead to reversing the course of diabetes from continuous progression to regression, and occasionally, weight loss can lead to remission,” Hamdy says.
Remission, which can be long- or short-term, means a patient has normal blood sugar levels and doesn’t require medication, he said, adding that there is no “cure” for diabetes. “If you gain the weight back, then it will be a problem,” Hamdy said, “and diabetes will reappear again.”
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