"Food Network" star Paula Deen, who's battling Type 2 diabetes, is fitter and healthier than ever after losing 30 pounds and dropping from a size 18 to a 10 in five months.
"I feel a thousand times better," Deen, 65, told People. "I have more energy. I sleep better. The weight loss has made my health issues better."
The 5-foot-5 Paula, who has been obese for much of her life, says making small changes has resulted in huge improvements. Deen, who used to guzzle pitchers of sugary tea every day, now drinks water and eats smaller portions.
"I double up on greens — whether it's salad or vegetables — and my carbs are just a spoonful," says Deen, who wants to lose an additional 15 pounds. One bad habit she hasn't yet kicked is smoking, but she's trying to quit.
The previously sedentary Paula now walks a mile or two every day on the treadmill. "I'm re-doing the way my plate looks," Deen told Entertainment Tonight. "I'm doubling up on salad or vegetables and putting smaller portions of carbs. I try to walk 30 minutes a day."
In January 2012, the queen of Southern fried cooking revealed that she had battling Type 2 diabetes since 2008, a condition directly linked to obesity, an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
In a move that many viewed as calculated and exploitative, the queen of Southern fried food made the revelation on the same day she announced a lucrative deal to rep a $500-a-month diabetes drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.
Paula immediately came under heavy criticism for hiding her medical condition for almost four years while continuing to promote her fatty, unhealthy recipes in her bestselling cookbooks and popular TV cooking shows.
Notably, "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain called Deen's move distasteful and exploitative. "When your signature dish is a hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got Type 2 diabetes... It's in bad taste if nothing else."
While Paula has bristled at the widespread criticism, her "People" cover story is exactly the public-relations maneuver Bourdain predicted she would orchestrate.
"We can look forward to 'People' or 'Us' magazine running the cover story, 'I'm back!' usual rehab story," Bourdain said in January 2012. "She's been looking for ways to position herself.
"Is she really going to be selling the cure now? Or will she back off for a decent interval? I take no pleasure in it. There ain't nothing funny about diabetes."
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