Paula Deen spreads word about diabetes in down-home manner

I made the choice at the time to keep it close to me, to keep it close to my chest," she told USATODAY in her first interview about the disease. "I felt like I had nothing to offer anybody other than the announcement. I wasn't armed with enough knowledge. I knew when it was time, it would be in God's time."
Deen, 64, star of Food Network's Paula's Best Dishes, built her career by making calorie-rich, indulgent recipes such as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and rich desserts, the kind of foods that can contribute to obesity, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
She says her delay in talking about the disease had nothing to do with fear about hurting her reputation. "That was not why. My knowledge about the disease was very limited. But now I'm coming with good information, something that can help and bring hope to other people. It may sound cliché, but it's the God-honest truth."
nd "Hi, y'all."
Today's announcement comes after a couple of years of speculation in the tabloids and lots of buzz on the blogosphere over the weekend.
She is giving details now as part of the launch of a campaign, Diabetes in a New Light (, in partnership with Novo Nordisk, a maker of diabetes medications. She uses the company's Victoza, a once-daily, non-insulin injection that may improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes when used along with diet and exercise.
Deen says that when Novo Nordisk representatives first approached her, they challenged her to make some of her recipes more diabetic-friendly. They didn't know she had the disease, and she said to them, "How did you know I had type 2 diabetes?"
For the initiative, Deen and her sons, Jamie and Bobby, have created lightened-up versions of some of their classic recipes for people with the disease. The family is appearing in a new ad campaign for Victoza this month. Yes, she's being paid for her new role with the drugmaker, Deen says. "Talking about money is garish. It's tacky. But, of course, I'm been compensated for my time. That's the way our world works."
She knows that she may be facing criticism and be the brunt of jokes after her announcement today. "I don't care what the haters and naysayers say. If they make jokes about me, I'll laugh because they'll probably be funny."
She says she's "at peace" with her decision to share the fact that she has the disease and with her career celebrating classic Southern recipes. "I have no regrets."
'Russian roulette'
Almost 26 million adults and children in the USA have diabetes, government statistics show. There are two major forms: type 1 and 2. Type 2 accounts for more than 90% of the cases. Factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 include a family history, obesity, inactivity and age.
In people with diabetes, the body does not make enough of the hormone insulin, or it doesn't use it properly. Insulin helps glucose (sugar) get into cells, where it is used for energy. If there's an insulin problem, sugar builds up in the blood, damaging nerves and blood vessels.
Type 2 diabetes is like "Russian roulette" when it comes to whom it's going to strike, Deen says. "It's about heredity. It's about age, lifestyle, race. I'm the only one in my family who has it. My grandmother cooked and ate like I ate, and she didn't have it."
Deen says that when she first heard she had the disease in 2008, she was surprised and "a little sad because I thought my whole life was going to have to change, and I like my life."
But after a conversation with her own doctor "and Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of my precious friends, I realized you can live a full life." Deen says her blood sugar "is good. It's under control."
Besides using the medication, Deen is walking a mile or more a day on the treadmill and no longer drinking sweet tea. "That's a big trick for a little Southern girl. I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering. I would start drinking tea at lunchtime and drank it all the way to bedtime."
She hasn't made a lot of other changes in how she eats and cooks, because "I've tried to use moderation since I hit a certain age."
She has dropped a size in clothes since the diagnosis. "I wasn't trying to lose weight. I don't even own a scale. I go strictly by the way I feel and the way my clothes feel." When she's out and about, people often say to her, "Gosh you're not nearly as fat in person." Her response: "Well, thank you, I guess."
"TV really packs it on you. They say you look 10 pounds heavier, but I think it's more like 30."

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