Last week’s announcement that Paula Deen, the reigning queen of rich and decadent Southern cooking, has type-2 diabetes caused some controversy in the public and in the health community. The fact that Ms. Deen signed on as a spokesperson for a diabetes drug further fueled the debate. But in arguing about the rightness of Ms. Deen’s cooking style in light of her health issues, we may be missing the most important point: it is far easier to prevent diabetes than to make it go away once you’ve got it.
To avoid diabetes—a chronic and potentially life-threatening disease—diligence is key. You should know if your blood sugar level is within a normal range, so be sure to ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test at your next check-up. If your results come back high, or if you have a strong family history of diabetes, take steps to lower blood glucose levels through healthy diet and regular exercise. This is a far smarter plan than letting diabetes happen and trying to medicate it away. Additionally, making a preemptive investment in healthy habits now (eg, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and the occasional new pair of sneakers) is much cheaper in the long run than a lifetime of diabetes medication.
Though heredity and age play a role, for most people, diabetes is not a given. Don’t let it happen to you. Do something now to prevent the disease later.