The ButterQueen Effect



The world is flat and the sun revolves around the Earth. Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes caused by her beloved fatty food. Anything else is simply heresy.

And yet, here we are…bombarded with media scrutiny at Paula Deen’s expense to make a good headline…under assumptions that are as unfounded as the other two examples were at one time.

You see…it’s the misinformed, guided-by-conventional-wisdom (aka federal policies funded by agribusiness – just a theory) information we’re being fed that’s making us sick…not Paula Deen’s food.

I’m not going to touch on the ethics of endorsing a diabetes medication here…it’s not up to me to decide how she sleeps at night and what threadcount an endorsement of Victoza buys you. Besides, for these journalists to find irony in the situation they have to make 2 bold assumptions.

1. People like Paula and establishments like McDonald’s force people to stuff food down their pie holes. (Apt nickname for mouth in this context.)

And that simply is not the case. In America today…anyone with access to the internet can educate themselves on diet in many ways. You can learn about conventional wisdom approaches…and if you look really hard you can even get beyond that into other ideas about “diabesity” (diabetes and obesity). You can learn about what type 2 diabetes is. You can discover that it has to do with how your body reacts to the insulin your pancreas secretes to lower blood sugar (glucose)…that your cells become “resistant” to the signal insulin is trying to give it or stops producing enough insulin – both leaving you with toxic high blood sugar. And while it’s complicated…and could possibly have something to do with fat intake (as the articles about Deen would lead you to believe is definitive), you might start to reconsider lumping ALL fats into one lot as culprits…and/or looking away from them as a cause of this in the first place…you might start looking at sugars and carbohydrates.

You say – “some don’t have access to the internet”. Nice try, there’s this thing called the library too…and besides…if they’re not on the web…they’re probably not following Paula Deen’s show and “tweets” anyway.

2. What they “think” causes T2 diabetes actually does.

Most of the articles you come across are going to blame fat mostly. The reasoning is that being overweight causes T2 diabetes and fat intake causes you to be fat…therefore, fat intake causes T2 diabetes. Nevermind how illogical it is to immediately assume that lowering fat intake would be the first way to non-medically control your blood SUGAR (as Deen’s sons are out doing with their new low fat show)…what if fat isn’t the main cause in the first place (if at all)? What if being overweight is simply another SYMPTOM that exists in tandem with the conditions leading to T2 diabetes. Could something else be to blame? And are we being hurt worse by the naive implications these editorials sell us?

I believe we are.

As for Bourdain…it’s really the pot calling the kettle black here but he’s famous for being a jerk and getting big reactions…so there’s really no surprise there. He has every right to say whatever he wants and dammit…it is entertaining. But my point is this…the joke’s on him if he thinks pointing a finger at Paula Deen under the presumptions he makes doesn’t do more harm to Americans than Paula Deen ever has. He and all the other journalists writing pieces to demonize Paula Deen are setting a hypocritical trap for Americans to continue to fall into if they (the journalists) are in fact incorrect about what it is she does that is said to be “unhealthy”.

Sure, it’s on the individual to not fall prey to this nonsense as discussed before…but who’s going to hold these supposedly righteous reporters accountable for their part?

Nobody, unless we question the very premise they found their criticisms on. I realize I raised many questions here that I did not answer…and that was my intent. I’d like to use this media instance to reach those who might be nodding their heads in agreement as they read the conventional take on Paula Deen’s plight. If you’re not on board with me…or if you are but know someone who isn’t…let’s see if we can get them thinking about this critically…and use this to at least explore other theories. What could it hurt to expand your horizons? After all, we’re here in America only because we didn’t fall right off the edge of the world on the way over.

Things to ponder:

What is type 2 diabetes? What does insulin do?

How does the body store excess carbohydrates from starches and sugars, and what role does insulin play?

Could carbohydrates and sugar play an even more immediate role in the accumulation of body fat than dietary fat?

Does being overweight CAUSE anything or does it exist in tandem with other symptoms?

What, then, could cause our cells to stop responding to or stop production of insulin?

What is inflammation and what foods are inflammatory?

Should grains, sugars, and industrial oils (omega 6 polyunsaturated fats) be scrutinized before saturated fats?

What were the rates of diabetes in the early 1900s and what was the typical daily fare?

What are the rates of diabetes today and what is the typical daily fare?

Has saturated fat intake increased or decreased in the last century…and what have the rates of diabetes done in the same amount of time?

I apologize for “leading the witness” here but I won’t tell you what to conclude, at least – for fear that I’m no better than those I’m in discord with now.  Objection – overruled. Clearly though, I’ve made my camp on one side and it’s a risk I’ll just have to take. It’s possible that the prevailing theories are true…but what if they’re not? What if the paradigm they’re promoting is the real poison we’re being fed?

And, lastly, I want to introduce you to some of the “Aristotle’s” if the cause. Heretics you might learn from if you are so inclined.

Tom Naughton.  Fat Head movie – for free. “You’ve been fed a load of bologna.”

Chris Kresser. A full series on “diabesity”.

Mark Sisson. Millions of followers per month. Educating themselves and living healthy, lean, productive lives. On diabetes 1 and 2.

Gary Taubes. His website, NY Times articles 1 and 2, and books.

Should be a good start. Maybe Paula Deen will in effect…save your life. Pass it on.


11 responses to “The ButterQueen Effect”

  1. I checked out Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible from the library just last month. I’ve never seen her show (does she have a show?) but I heard her being interviewed on NPR so I decided to check out her cookbook. There was plenty of butter and meat in her book, but what dominated were the desserts. They comprised half of the book in several different chapters — candies, cakes, cookies, pies, etc. Her cakes were almost invariably triple-layered and the frosting would contain many CUPS of sugar. I counted up the sugar for one cake, and between the cakes themselves, the frosting, and the filling, there were seven cups of sugar. In one recipe.

    And many if not most of her regular recipes were grain-based — the meats were often coated in flour and deep-fried in PUFAs. So to say that she has diabetes now because of the occasional tablespoon of butter that she uses for her collard greens is to blatantly ignore what truly comprises the vast majority of her recipes.

    The sad thing is that she felt the need to defend her use of butter and occasional consumption of lard in the preface. I don’t remember one single statement about the copious quantities of straight sugar and other refined carbohydrates, though.

  2. Melissa Romano

    I once watched Paula Deen prepare bread pudding using Krispy Kreme donuts as the “bread”. Nuff said.

  3. This was an excellent article! You presented a great case for food and the enjoyment of food, while criticizing only those who are too apathetic to do a little research to educate themselves. Thank you for stating this so clearly and listing extra research resources at the end.

  4. Thank you for posting this. The accusations, misinformation, and overall assinine/uneducated remarks by Bourdain have made my blood boil the last week. Your blog is amazing, your recipes are phenomenal, and you both provide me with inspiration and motivation to keep up with my primal lifestyle. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve never felt better.

  5. A great follow-up to what is sure to be one of the most important diet related stories of the year. You’re assertion, “Maybe Paula Deen will in effect…save your life.” is spot on. I’ll be sharing this far and wide. Thanks for posting.

  6. Thank you for writing this! I got so mad when all they talked about was Paula’s “Butter.”
    Who cares how much grain and sugar and processed food you digest to make you fat. At least Paula is cooking. Most Americans do not have the time for such nonsense! I juist hope the next time we see Paula Deen its not on a law suit from the medication she endorsed causing some horrible disease.

  7. Thanks for the terrific post. I just got into a little argument over dinner with friends the other night about what causes heart disease. My one friend teaches nutrition to elementary schoolers, and when she told me what she taught them (Low-fat! being the primary commandment) we kind of got into it. Of course I told her that the fat wasn’t the problem, but rather the sugar and processed foods that are consumed here in rural WV that are truly killing people (elementary schoolers drinking two or three “Monster” energy drinks a day, for example). She referenced her iPhone to see if she was “still current” and said, “What is still the number one killer of Americans?” I said “Heart disease?” She said, “Yes! And it’s fat that causes it. Yes, sugar is bad, too, but we teach them to avoid cheeseburgers and other bad fats” Argh. She went on to say that they teach that all fats that are solid at room temp clog your arteries. Obviously it’s not really worth ruining a dinner over and so after a short while we let it die out, neither of us having changed our minds at all. –I’ll just start sending her some of my favorite articles and blogs on the subject and hope that they make an impression.

    But here’s the thing that IS inarguable. The majority of meat that these kids have access to is raised in hellish conditions. The fat in that meat is fat I wouldn’t put in my body, as it’s full of stress hormones and every other kind of pollution these animals are subject to. So how do you tell poor people that fat is good if their primary sources of fat are toxic to begin with?

    1. @Lydia McDonald: You raise a point (about quality of fat available) that was also raised here on a related topic and can be summed up in the phrase “…Many people who use the Paleo diet as justification for carnivorous preferences simply eat more of the kind of meat they tend to find. And generally, they are not finding antelope.”

      I think that on the whole it’s better to eat readily-available fat than a grain-based diet, but I’m also using my Paleo preferences as an excuse/platform to beat the drum for meat not raised in CAFOs.

      1. I’m pretty sure I agree with you, especially considering that the grains these kids and their parents eat is what composes the massive amounts of processed foods they consume (and though a lot of them eat deer because their parents hunt, that has little fat in it). Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

  8. I think the biggest thing is education. We need to educate the country on what REAL nutrition is. It needs to start in the home with parents to their kids, be supplemented by schools, and the “mainstream” publications. Healthy eating should not make you an outsider and should not be so difficult.

  9. I was watching the morning news yesterday and there was a doctor being interviewed. I think his name was Dr. Ludwig. He is an expert in childhood obesity. He says there is a new study that has just been done that proves with out a doubt that sugar/ high glycemic refined carbs are the main cause for diabetes in this country. He stated that the average kid eats 22 spoons of sugar per day. I have read that is is actually 32 spoons per day. Mainly from soda and hidden sugars in processed food. He states we should not eat more than 6 teaspoons added sugar per day.
    I grew up eating eggs and bacon. I was a very slender kid. When cereals became popular and I started eating those I became unhealthy and started to get fat. My blood sugars would crash all over the place. I went back to eating bacon and eggs for breakfast.
    I did not need a study to figure out sugar and high glycemic foods messed me up.
    Once you start squirting out too much insulin you are in trouble. It is all down hill from there.
    Thank you for your input. I appreciate your dedication.

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