I know Yvette Nicole Brown mostly from Community but also from her guest appearances, particularly on Talking Dead. She’s one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter as she shares my political views and calls people out expertly. Yvette was on a podcast called Hypochondriactor where she opened up about the fact that she has type 2 diabetes. She said she got it from eating too many donuts on the set of Community. Donuts were just always available and she became addicted to sugar. The weight piled on and she ate so many she gave herself diabetes (her words). Here’s more, thanks to People Magazine:
[Yvette Nicole Brown] explained on Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wali’s podcast Hypochondriactor that she was “excessively eating sugar” during the lengthy, 16-hour days of filming on the NBC comedy.
“I got diabetes, or gave myself diabetes, by eating a lot of donuts on the set of Community,” Brown said. “I spent a lot of time at the craft services table, and I watched myself get bigger and bigger. And if you watch the show, you can see me get bigger and bigger. And I got a pre-diabetes diagnosis maybe in season one, and then by season three it was full-blown diabetes.”
Wali then reassured Brown that as a physician, she doesn’t believe “it’s people’s faults that they contract diabetes.”
“We live in a society right now where one of the most addictive substances in the world is completely legal and socially accepted. I do believe sugar is the tobacco of our generation,” Wali said. “And so it’s not your fault that there were doughnuts lying around.”
“So when people say, type 2 diabetes is the one you give to yourself, I completely disagree,” she continued. “I think we’re living in a very toxic food society and it’s not our faults that we’re contracting diabetes.”
Brown thanked her for that clarification, and agreed that sugar is an “addiction.”
“I swear I would walk past the donuts and go, ‘You don’t have to eat five,’ and my body would go, ‘Yes, you do.’ So I can imagine that it calls you the way drugs call the people that are addicted … I know that when I was on Community, I was excessively eating sugar.”
“I remember my skin got really dry,” she said of her symptoms. “Everything was just itchy. I was scratchy and itchy, and I couldn’t put enough lotion on, but I never lost weight, I gained weight, and was thirsty.”
“Thankfully I’m not in a situation now where I have that much time on set, and I’m not walking by delicious donuts and cakes and whatever all day,” she said. “I believe everything in moderation. So I’m not someone that’s like, ‘I’m never going to have a piece of cake,’ but I don’t have a whole cake. And I don’t have a whole cake every day, or every week. And if I say, I want to go to Cheesecake Factory and I’m going to get this cheesecake, then I’ll make sure that I use the treadmill for an extra hour that day to try to burn off some of the sugar that’s now in my body, drink more water, and other simple things you can do.”
I hope Yvette is doing ok now and I like her explanation of sensibly managing her diabetes by balancing out treats with exercise. As someone with a sugar addiction this rang true to me and was a wakeup call! I always have chocolate and ice cream in my house. I have some every day and when I’m stressed out I eat too much of it. I use the excuse that I exercise and also that I’ve been sober for years. At least I’m not drinking, but eating a bunch of junk food is not good for my health either. I’ve struggled with how to change my diet but a low GI-index diet, similar to one diabetics eat, might be a good start.
Also I really like how Dr. Wali explained that “sugar is the tobacco of our generation.” It’s in almost everything and it’s true that our food society is toxic. Giving up entire food groups and going without food is not healthy, like we just heard from Raven-Symone, while indulging too much can become an addiction with serious consequences. I wish that our food culture was more like in some parts of Europe, with local, seasonal foods available affordably.