It's been a year since Paula Deen announced she had type 2 diabetes, and that she was taking steps to improve her health. Famous for her delicious, buttery dishes that aren't exactly low-calories, Deen has managed to take the weight off by following basic diet principles like portion control and moderation.
"I feel great. I really, really do," Deen said today. "When the doctor told me I had type 2 diabetes, I was devastated. I was shocked. It was not in my family. I loved my life. I didn't want my life to change. I loved everything that I cooked. …[but] I found some things that work for me."
1. Moderation, Not Deprivation
"Moderation, that nasty M-word. I had preached it for years on my show and I thought I was practicing it, but I wasn't because I was eating two biscuits and I really wanted three. So that was my moderation," Deen said.
Now, Deen has embraced moderation, but not deprivation, allowing herself to indulge occasionally in a small piece of buttery cake or her favorite fried chicken.
"I did not want to live the rest of my life without fried chicken," Deen said on "GMA."
Other dishes Deen is never giving up? Her peanut butter pie, fried green tomatoes and fried pies, she told Woman's Day magazine.
"I make these wonderful fried pies that just make you slap your granny into next week. [My son] bobby tried to make a lighter version of my fried pies by baking them. I said, 'Son, don't even try it. Some things are just best left alone," Deen said in an interview in the magazine's February issue.
2. Rethink Your Plate
"I've reconstructed the architecture of my plate," she said today on "GMA."
Instead of her signature Southern fried chicken with a whole potato and creamy macaroni and cheese for dinner, Deen now makes healthier choices. Her daily dinner plate now consists of baked chicken, collard greens, and half of a potato without sour cream or fatty toppings.
3. Portion Control
Deen has cut down her portions sizes to shed those 36 pounds. Instead of dishing out a ton of heavy starches, she aims to fill up on vegetables instead and keeps meat portions to the size of her fist.
4. No Diet Food!
"I do not use diet mayonnaise. I do not use diet cream cheese, nor sour cream," Deen said proudly today. "I would rather use the real stuff and have my food taste good and just have a little bit of it than having a whole lot of diet food."
Her youngest son, Bobby Dean, makes a lighter version of her signature Ooey Gooey Butter Layer Cake. This version has 665 fewer calories, 90g less carbohydrates and 71g less sugar than the original, according to their website, but still has the same flavor.
5. Don't Eat Carbs Alone
Instead of eating what Dean thought was a healthy fruit breakfast smoothie, Deen says she now has something that has protein in it too, like a small amount of peanut butter with fruit to help slow a blood-sugar spike.
6. Eat Slowly and Enjoy It
Deen credits taking breaks between bites with helping her stay trim. "Putting my fork down and having a conversation has been a huge help," she told Woman's Day. "It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you're full."