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Paula Deen Museum: Offer Diabetes Education
May 29, 2013

The news is out: A Paula Deen museum is underway at Paula Deen’s childhood home in Albany, Ga. Caroline Trapp, a nurse practitioner and director of diabetes education and care at the Physicians Committee, hopes the Paula Deen museum café will preserve Ms. Deen’s legacy by showcasing diabetes-fighting recipes, including Collard Greens with Almonds, Sweet Potato Waffles, and Easy Cornbread Muffins.

Here is a letter Ms. Trapp sent to B.J. Fletcher, an Albany businesswoman who is funding the project:

May 28, 2013

B.J. Fletcher
Ole Times Country Buffet
Corporate Office
1709-A Gornto Rd. #301
Valdosta, GA 31601

Dear Ms. Fletcher:

Your plans for turning Paula Deen’s childhood home in Albany, Ga., into a museum should include an exhibit on her struggle with diabetes and information that will help visitors prevent and reverse the disease that affects the more than 1 million Georgians.

Ms. Deen’s diabetes diagnosis mirrors the toll traditional high-fat Southern cooking takes on many Georgians. Between 2000 and 2010, diabetes prevalence among Georgia adults increased by 43 percent. In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among Georgia adults was 9.7 percent. And at more than 11.1 percent, the prevalence is significantly greater in Albany.

These diabetes statistics alone are staggering, but diabetes is also inextricably linked to other deadly health problems. As of 2009, 72.8 percent of Georgia adults with diabetes had hypertension, 63.9 percent had high cholesterol, and 52.6 percent were obese.

A low-fat plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse all of these diseases, including diabetes. The Physicians Committee’s study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Diabetes Care, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a low-fat, plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains treats type 2 diabetes more effectively than a conventional “diabetes diet”—and even more effectively than typical oral medications. Many people with diabetes have found they can lose weight, gain control of their blood sugar, and reduce or eliminate their need for medications.

When Ms. Deen first announced that she suffered from diabetes in 2012, our director of nutrition education, Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., a native Alabamian who grew up on Southern cooking, wrote to her and assured her that Southern classics such as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese translate very well into hearty, delicious vegan dishes. If you plan on including a café in the museum, Ms. Levin would be happy to provide you satisfying, health-promoting recipes.

In the meantime, I’ve enclosed the Physicians Committee’s Diet and Diabetes Kit and a copy of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes by Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D. I hope you’ll consider making these available to visitors.

Through Ms. Deen’s museum, you can ensure that part of her legacy is helping her millions of fans fight diabetes with this lifesaving information.

Sincerely,

Caroline Trapp, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., B.C.-ADM, C.D.E.
Director of Diabetes Education and Care
Physicians Committee


     

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