Known for her high-calorie creations, Paula Deen was widely criticized earlier this year when she revealed that she has type 2 diabetes — and had been diagnosed with the disease three years earlier. Around the same time the Southern chef went public with her health crisis, she also landed an endorsement deal for a diabetes drug, so there was backlash about her motivation for speaking out in the first place. Six months later, Deen — who completely overhauled her diet — has dropped 30 pounds and is talking about how she lost the weight.
"I was surprised by the depth of hate," Deen, 65, said about the backlash to People. "This is not something I chose. I had been given lemons and I had to try to make lemonade — without sugar!"
Since January, the 5-foot-6 foodie has lost more than 30 pounds and has gone from a size 18 to a 10. "The architecture of my plate has changed," said Deen, who has daily injections to regulate her blood sugar. "I double up on greens — whether it's salad or vegetables — and my carbs are just a spoonful." Her shopping cart is now overflowing with broccoli, sweet potatoes, and fruit instead of regular potatoes (her weakness) and bread. Where she used to skip breakfast, she now has a smoothie. And a typical dessert for Deen is "a bowl of sugar-free ice cream with strawberries and blueberries on top."
Although she's changed her diet for the better, the Food Network host — who once instructed her viewers on how to make a burger topped with bacon and a fried egg on two doughnuts — still indulges. Once a week she allows herself to eat whatever she wants (think: a cheeseburger in a wrap). She also hasn't completely given up fried chicken; now she has it monthly instead of weekly.
Deen says incorporating exercise into her routine has been another factor in her weight loss. She walks 30 minutes a day but doesn't love it. "I heard that exercise is addictive," she said to People. "So far, it's not like cigarettes." Speaking of cigarettes, she still smokes but says quitting will be her next challenge.
Although her goal is to lose an additional 15 pounds, Deen already feels like a million bucks. "I feel a thousand times better," Deen told the magazine. "I have more energy. I sleep better. The weight loss has made my health issues better."