Everything We Know About Paula Deen's Health Issues & Diabetes Diagnosis

Paula Deen was once America's favorite comfort food cook to watch on the Food Network, and she wasn't shy about whipping up meals filled with butter and sugar. In fact, one of her famous meals was called The Lady's Brunch Burger, which featured bacon, a fried egg, and donuts as buns. Despite Deen's tendency toward sharing recipes for fried foods, cakes, and all things decadent, her son Jamie told Good Housekeeping in 2008, "You know, I think people have this idea that Mama is hooked up to a butter IV at home. The truth is, she just believes in having good things in moderation. Everything is probably OK for you if you don't have too much.

Moderation was not the name of Deen's cooking game, and it wasn't surprising when she announced that she had Type 2 diabetes in 2012 on the "Today" show, per Page Six. "I was diagnosed three years ago during a regular physical exam with my doctor. I am here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence," she stated. Deen revealed that she kept her diagnosis hidden from the public on purpose and told Al Roker, "I said 'I'm going to keep this close to my chest for the time being,' because I had to figure things out in my own head." Since revealing her diagnosis, Deen has been on a health kick, and while she hasn't completely eliminated her vices, she's eating far less of them.

Paula Deen cut back on unhealthy foods following her diabetes diagnosis

Now that the cat was out of the bag about her Type 2 diabetes, Paula Deen faced pressure to change up the way she was presenting food to the world. "I've always said, 'Practice moderation, y'all.' I'll probably say that a little louder now. You can have diabetes and have a piece of cake. You cannot have diabetes and eat a whole cake," she stated shortly after revealing her diagnosis, per CBS News. "I am who I am. I think the South gets a bad rap sometimes, saying our food is very unhealthy, but frankly, I don't think that's the case," Deen added.

In an interview with Prevention that same year, the "Paula's Home Cooking" star shared that she has added more fresh vegetables to her diet and is eating a lot less starch. "My favorite thing in the world is potatoes cooked in a pot of fresh green beans. And I would have had a lot of ham and just a little bit of squash," she revealed. "But the night before last, I had lots of squash, a little slice of ham, a nice serving of green beans, and a tablespoon of fresh peas. And I had no potatoes and no bread," Deen recounted. Her new way of eating paid off, and while the Southern cook still deals with diabetes, she has lost over 30 pounds since her diagnosis.

Paula Deen controls her diabetes with medication

Paula Deen has had a fresh new take on eating since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In a 2012 interview with People (via Today), she shared that she controls her disease with a daily injection of medication and healthy foods. "I feel a thousand times better. I have more energy, I sleep better. The weight loss has made my health issues better," she declared. Deen has traded fried chicken for salads and only eats a tiny bit of carbs.

By January 2013, Deen dropped 36 pounds and has continued to eat healthier, but she allows herself some cheat meals like macaroni and cheese. However, she no longer has a meal filled with high-calorie items like chicken fried steak and buttery biscuits. Instead, she told Woman's Day, "Now we do a 3-oz portion of steak, which my husband, Michael, weighs on a scale, and I'll sear it in a skillet or put it on the grill. We'll sauté the green beans but without bacon. And maybe a tomato salad with onions. No bread!" These days, Deen is still looking lean, which had fans questioning if she was on Ozempic, but she still enjoys a glass of her favorite beverage. "Happy first day of summer! Here's hoping we all get a lot of days like this one — relaxing by a pool with a tall glass of ice-cold sweet tea," she wrote on Instagram in June 2024. Hopefully, she drinks the sugary refreshment in moderation.