What Paula Deen SHOULD Have Said

When the rumors started coming out last week about Paula Deen having diabetes, I went through several emotions. Sadness for her and what will be a lifelong battle. Curiosity about how it would affect her career, built on high-fat, fried-everything cooking.

And the strongest emotion of all — HOPE.

Hope that Deen and her family might be able to use this difficult diagnosis as a launching pad for a real, honest and public discussion about diabetes and how it can be prevented and treated.

Hope? NOPE.

source: pauladeen.com

Instead, Deen went on NBC’s Today show this week to talk about how it’s affected her. You can watch the entire interview here.

The more she talked, the more my heart sank. She took no responsibility for her health. She dismissed any questions about whether her diet might have contributed to the diabetes. And most upsetting to me, she spent more time talking about her partnership with a “reputable pharmaceutical company” (Novo Nordisk) than discussing ways to work with her big community of fans to help us all get healthier.

There’s also a message on Deen’s website:

Hey y’all,

When I learned I had type 2 diabetes, I decided to approach managing the disease with the same positivity and “go get ‘em” attitude I have everyday. In the past, I’ve heard so many stories of people like me that let diabetes control their lives, but I didn’t want to let this slow me down. I wanted to take control and delicious time doing it.

So today, I want to bring a new light to type 2 diabetes.  I, along with Jamie and Bobby, are sharing with Americans an exciting a new campaign called “Diabetes in a New Light.” It’s going to be a tasty journey, and I hope that y’all will come along with me.

Of course, I will continue to share my favorite Southern recipes, just like my mama, grandmother and family shared with me over the years. And now, I’ll be adding a little bit of a lighter touch to some of these wonderful dishes.  Visit www.diabetesinanewlight.com to join me!

I’m wishin’ y’all love and (lighter!) dishes, from my kitchen to yours,

Paula

It’s weak. It’s empty. And it laughs off what is a very, very serious situation.

I don’t have diabetes. And I understand that each diagnosis needs to be looked at individually. Even if Type 2 does have environmental factors, including diet and exercise, I understand that some people will develop the disease despite their best efforts.

I’m not trying to judge everyone. Just Paula.

Because:

“Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. While not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes of this form of diabetes. It is also responsible for nearly 95% of diabetes cases in the United States, according to the CDC.”

(source: webmd.com)

  • Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
  • Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
  • Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
  • Prediabetes: 79 million people
  • New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.
  • Costs: $174 billion: Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007, $116 billion for direct medical costs, $58 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality)

(source: diabetes.org)

So, here’s what Paula Deen should have said.

“Dear friends,

I want to share some difficult news about my health, because I know that you love and support me. After a routine physical, doctors informed me that I have Type 2 diabetes. It was a shocking thing to hear, and to be truthful — I felt scared, sad and yes, a bit guilty. I first received the news three years ago, but chose to keep the news private. I live my life in a very public way, but when I was faced with something that would change the way I eat, work and live, I needed to take some time to sort out my emotions and come up with an action plan.

Because I also felt responsible. I knew I needed to learn everything I could about the diagnosis and the treatment, so I could do everything in my power to get healthy. I also wanted to share, in an educated and informed way, what I learned with the millions of people in the United States alone that face or will face a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. And genetics play a major role — you may be at risk because of your family history, or you could be putting your kids and grandkids at risk.

And that’s why I’m coming forward today. I am feeling great, thanks to the work I’m doing with my doctors. I have changed the way I eat, begun an exercise and wellness program and have also started taking medicine to assist me. That may not be the right course for everyone, and some of you may be disappointed to hear that I am working as a spokseperson for Novo Nordisk. I don’t believe that a magic pill can fix me or help others. But after learning about my options and understanding the benefits of using medicine with changes in diet and exercise, I am confident that I am on the right path.

In terms of my work — I’m a southern girl, y’all, and proud of it! I love foods that are rich in flavor, speak to the amazing meals that generations of families have eaten and I don’t know that I’ll ever give up the things that I love. Fried chicken, collards, cakes and cocktails will always be on my menu. But I recognize, perhaps for the first time, that having a balance is key. I may have chicken at lunch, but a salad at dinner. Or cake for dessert, while monitoring my diabetes.

I love food, but I love life more. I want to be around for my husband, my children and their children. And I want to have a positive effect on my fans, whom I love so much. I will be taking a stand when it comes to health, and I hope that my experience will convince you to take action as well. Get a physical, ask your doctors if you’re at risk for diabetes and find ways to make small steps in your own lives.

This won’t be easy, but it is important. And I thank all of you for your support and love.

Paula”

Am I overreacting? I promise, you can tell me so. If I’ve gotten the facts wrong, or you think I’m being unfair to Paula, let me know. I’m a fan, and maybe that’s why I’m so disappointed that she’s not doing a better job in helping others who may still have time to change their lives.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    HELL to the yes. Diabetes, especially Type 2 (when it’s influenced by poor diet and lack of exercise), is no joke. She needs to take it more seriously. I honor her attitude, but I don’t think it’s appropriate in this situation.

  2. 3

    says

    Wow, what a post! I totally agree with you. Instead of taking her diagnosis and a) owning up to it and b) using it as a platform to help others, she wimped out. I hope she understands the gravity of her position soon, and begins to change her approach. The “second letter” was much better!

  3. 4

    says

    Before assuming she got it due to eating/exercise issues — Does it run in her family?

    Aside from that, she is a celebrity. She has a PR flack behind this and she’s doing what will look good for her image and her multi-million dollar business of making savory foods. My thought is her response is tailored for her brand and she doesn’t want this to impact her brand.

    It’s all comes down to the buck.

    • 5

      says

      Oh gosh. I just watched the video. I also love how she tells the viewers her being sponsored by this pharmaceutical company is the same as Al being a journalist.

      It’s not the same Paula!

    • 6

      says

      I agree, it’s all marketing. They’ve probably been developing this for the past several years.

      That said, she could be genetically prone to Type 2 Diabetes. Her very public lifestyle suggests she did very little to protect against the disease.

      Paula Deen is famous for her unhealthy cooking, for using sticks and sticks of butter, and for deep frying everything. She’s not going to come out and say that lifestyle is a mistake. She can’t really – it’s probably in a contract somewhere.

      Even so, I’m disappointed with the cop-out. Unfortunately she’s speaking to a vast majority of the population who will probably opt for drugs over diet & exercise. So Novo Nordisk got a hell of a spokesperson.

  4. 7

    says

    Trying NOT to judge. Never been a fan, and I think her cooking is irresponsible. Fried Butter Balls?! Hoped to watch this a.m., but had an early morning meeting. Totally agree with you; you’re spot on. I don’t know enough about Type 2 to comment, but I can’t help but think that things like Fried Butter Balls were a factor. And she knew for three years and continued to promote recipes like that? Wow. Now it appears that she will use this to expand her brand and income instead of helping others. Disappointed beyond even what I expected.

  5. 8

    says

    I completely agree! I watched the segment, and she kept dodging the ‘diet’ part of it! I love how she listed off a a few reasons what could have contributed to diabetes, but then when the doctor started talking the first thing she said was that diet was the main contributor! I think she could have used this opportunity to speak about how yes her food is good, but healthy, NOPE! and how she was going to change her diet…. I felt like it was mainly a plug for her new gig with the medical company…

  6. 12

    says

    3 years!? 3 years she covered it up!? I haven’t watched the news coverage yet, but I was assuming that since the rumors were just coming out that this was a recent diagnosis. I can’t believe it. Anyway, I think you’re spot on.

  7. 13

    says

    Katy I thought the same thing when I watched this morning! When they started talking about what causes diabetes and they said things like diet and being overweight, she didn’t bat an eye. She was set on the fact that she “always has said to eat the meals she prepares in moderation” or something to that affect. She said nothing about how she would change/has changed after this diagnoses.

    Like you said, each diagnosis is different, so maybe it is entirely genetic that she has type 2 diabetes……but I would find that hard to believe. And even so, she should be using this to help others in a similar situation who may look to her – being a celebrity – for guidance.

    • 15

      says

      Fair point. And even if Paula had come out and talked about the power of changing diet and exercise, she couldn’t MAKE people change.

      But she’s such a big role model, I wish she had acknowledged more about how her decisions affect others.

    • 16

      says

      I agree. Her occupation is that of a “chef” or tv personality, not a dietician, nutritionist or healthcare advocate. She is not responsible for doing anything more than what she has. I’m not really a fan to begin with, and perhaps if she had used this as a platform for health I would have become one, but either way I know cooking with butter and bacon is never going to be healthy.

  8. 17

    says

    ZOMG, so glad you wrote this. If you see my twitter, I was irritated as well this am while watching “today”. She also FLAT OUT LIED saying she has always touted moderation, which she DOESN’T DO. She didn’t even tell people she had type II diabetes until she could make $$$ for it.

    So disingenuous, so, just, gross.

    • 18

      says

      I know! And her point that the show is only on for X number of hours, so people should know that she doesn’t eat that way all the time is disingenuous.

  9. 19

    says

    I Try to ride the Tour De Cure every year i can, it’s a great event raising fund for diabetes research. I get the WANT for people to step up but it’s not their job or responsibility if they don’t want it. They can cook the worst, fatty food all they want and never talk about health if they don’t feel like it. Why are people so eager to find someone else to be their champion? Be your own champion! Sure everyone get’s inspired by someone else.. but their are plenty of examples all around us and if you want the information its their and available. We as in all people need to stop trying to force people to be our inspiration or mouthpiece and just focus on finding those who align with what we are interested in.

    It’s a Choice.. Stop lifting people up like they are anything other than flesh and blood. They either fit into your ideals or not.. if not then move it along and find the ones who do.

  10. 22

    says

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s sad that her response is indicative of a lot of people in this country right now. No one wants to take responsibility for the situation they are in and work to change it in a positive way. Having worked for a pharmaceutical company, I often saw first hand how people would jump at a chance to take a pill instead of trying to change their behaviors for the long haul…

  11. 23

    says

    I don’t think you are overreacting at all. Paula has the opportunity to take responsibility and help people begin the process of eating healthier. Maybe not everyone will recover from Type 2 diabetes, but a lot of people do – just look at the contestants on “The Biggest Loser.” I think hiding behind medicine and starting a new “campaign” will make people complacent and okay with being unhealthy. And that’s no way to live.

  12. 24

    says

    Touche, Katy! Loved this. It seems that Paula is using her diagnosis as a launch pad for a new cookbook/show/media tour, etc… rather than as a serious medical issue. Such is the problem with health in our country; diet, exercise, and health are merely pawns in a sick for-profit game played by marketing bigwigs. Sadly, so many of us in this country buy in to it all because we want the easiest way to go about being “healthy”. I’m betting Paula’s newest endeavor will succeed because it will “prove” that people living with such a difficult disease can continue to enjoy butter and sugar in a so-called moderate way.

  13. 26

    says

    Huh. I guess when *I* was diagnosed as pre-diabetic that inspired me to lose 100 pounds and get healthy the natural way. It’s tacky that she’s deciding to have a sponsor instead of taking responsibility for her health. Whatever. It’s her life. It’s just sad.

  14. 30

    says

    I read medical record after medical record of people who have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, to the point where it’s a standard question for me in depositions. What’s more, they almost always have the holy trinity of DM, hypertension, and high cholesterol. They are very often chronically obese, smoke, and haven’t exercised in years. Just yesterday, I deposed someone who has been on HDL medications for 35 years!

    It’s easy for all of us who read healthy living blogs to say that Paula Deen is not responsible for our health (and I agree – - she’s not), but it’s much more difficult for an uneducated consumer to not be swayed by her choices. There WILL be people who will believe that she is on her way to health solely because she elects to use prescriptions to manage her condition, as opposed to making real lifestyle changes. Those same people will then take her lead and jump to the easy solution of a pill. Then, when their dependence on medications heightens and co-morbidities start to rear their ugly heads, who will be responsible?

    Sorry, Paula, but you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

    • 32

      says

      Okay, I kind of have a problem with this explanation. HLBs have made the choice to educate ourselves on proper nutrition, exercise, etc. But these “uneducated people” are not without the same resources that we bloggers have. The majority of Americans have access to the internet and the library which is full of nutritional infomration and advice. These “uneducated people” need to take responsibility for their health because no one else will. As opposed to turning to Paula Deen for nutritional advice, these people could watch Ellie Krieger or check out nutrition.gov or make an appointment with a local RD. I’m not defending Paula Deen: I think her diabetes coming out party along with a diabetes drug sponsorship is kinda despicable but people really need to stop blaming other people for their nutritional mistakes.

  15. 33

    says

    You make some GREAT points. Paula has this platform where she is a major role model to people and it would be nice to take it seriously and help others learn from her experience. However, considering she thinks it’s fine to slap a stick of butter and some bacon in every recipe she makes, I imagine it will take some time for her to come to terms with the fact that SHE is a big part of the reason she has diabetes. I hope for her sake that she does start to make healthier meals and take control of her own well being.

  16. 34

    says

    I have not seen the interview but it’s very interesting that when she came out with the news..she had a pharmaceutical company to sponsor her diabetes? Is that how you would phrase it? And I believe Type II diabetes can be reversed with diet and exercise over time, so if she has had three years to deal with this..why has she been cooking the same unhealthy dishes all this time?

    There are many things about this that bother me, however, I do understand that Paula Dean is known for cooking with butter and deep frying things and making crazy decadent desserts. Saying to the public that this lifestyle was a completely wrong choice would most likely ruin her career. So she is going to be cooking the same dishes in a “lighter” way. Makes sense for her career, however it won’t help America learn from her mistakes.

    Interesting post, thanks for sharing your thoughts! :-)

    • 35

      says

      Well, check out the new website — it’s ALL about the drug and only a little bit about her. No mention (that’s easy to access, at least) about diet and exercise.

  17. 36

    says

    I heard about this on the radio today. I was kind of surprised, but not really…We all know how Paula cooks. I totally agree with you. She could have really went into how to prevent diabetes. I totally think it is preventable and curable with diet and exercise. It’s sad pharmaceutical’s got to her first…

  18. 37

    says

    gosh, how sad. I wish she knew how much she could INFLUENCE others if she was honest with herself first. Paula, you might need a reality check. yes?!

  19. 38

    says

    I think plenty of us in the “healthy living” world are having the same reaction you are. I’ve seen her do an interview with Dr. Oz before about her smoking habit, telling him that she wants to kick it, but you could tell from her body language that she wasn’t going to. I feel like she’s having the same response to diabetes – but this time with a sponsorship. What kind of example is this setting: get a disease and see what type of $/publicity you can milk from it?

    • 39

      says

      My friend told me she wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Oz came out and made a statement about this…she said he was pretty upset that she wasn’t more concerned about her health on his show.

  20. 40

    Meg says

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes with her publicists and networks and whoever else might be trying to save face. You know what I mean? TV personalities have a lot of people behind the scenes influencing them too. As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about this.

    It does seem, like many people do, that she is in denial of her part and the seriousness of this disease. Sadly, a lot of people don’t genuinely want to change their habits when they can take a drug instead. Think about all those with high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. who rely on drugs to compensate for their poor lifestyle. It really is a shame and I think what you wrote is right on the money. Maybe Paula needs you as her publicist. ;)

  21. 42

    says

    you should be her spokesperson/PR/Image manager. Your letter is a million times better than hers. It actually sounds like the person behind it means what they say.

    I’ve always thought Paula’s food was crap because of the amount of butter in it. It’s gross and unhealthy, but I know people love her and she could have done a lot more with the position she’s in.

  22. 43

    says

    Very well done! I wish she would have written that letter too.

    My mother lived with a variety of health problems thanks to Type I diabetes, and the fact that Type II almost seems to be a reasonable trade off for eating whatever, whenever these days makes me livid. It’s so often preventable, and it’s SO unnecessary.

    There is a lot to be angry about here, but I think the thing that turns my stomach the most (no pun intended) is getting the deal with Novo Nordisk in place before she announced. That is just gross.

  23. 44

    says

    Absolutely! Well said. Rather than laughing this off and using the opportunity to strike up another sponsorship deal, she should have used this opportunity to increase the awareness of this serious and often preventable disease.

    I love rich, tasty food – who doesn’t! But I love life and health more. And, as you said, it IS possible to have a balance of both :)

  24. 45

    says

    I was really disappointed to. Especially after everyone jumped on the seemingly “suck it Paula” campaign. But there are many more, like you, who are just sad that she’s not using this as a teaching opportunity for her multitude of fans. It is sad! Hopefully she’ll realize it and change.

  25. 46

    says

    I was just discussing this with my husband after seeing Paula on the Today Show this morning. I have to admit that I was disappointed in her. Seems to me that, having known her diagnoses for 3 years, she is coming forward now because of her compensated role with the company she is promoting. She talked a lot on the show about how she preaches moderation with the recipes on her shows. I haven’t seen those so can’t say if I ever got that vibe from her or not. But I’ve watched her many times as a guest on other shows and eaten at her restaurant (before she was famous) and never once got a message about moderation with the very foods that seem linked to diabetes. I am not sure what I think about her having any responsibility here as a potential role model and an influence on others. But, I’m kinda thinking that since she “sells” cooking, she ought to make some connection.

  26. 47

    says

    I am in the minority among these comments, but I think she’s like every other person faced with a life-changing consequence of habits and addiction. Her personality, love of butter, and crazy bad food is her brand. If she’s faced with having to change that due to her diabetes, having a drug company sponsor might help her “brand” transition to lighter fare. In the end, it’s her life, and we can either continue to watch or not. I weighed 455 pounds and making a change was ridiculously difficult to come to terms with. I fought it every which way I could, and told myself crazy things to justify how I was living. Between her own (natural) denial and the PR spin and moves to save the face of the company, I don’t think any response would be perfect. I understand where you all are coming from, but having been self-destructive and in denial before, I completely empathize with her.

    • 49

      says

      I love your perspective, and even if we don’t agree on what Paula could or should do, I think you are an example of someone who has openly and honestly shared her struggles. I don’t know that Paula owes us the same, but I certainly think she could have a bigger impact if she did.

    • 50

      Marcee says

      Yes …. you make lots of good points Emme.

      The (big) thing is ….. these Food Network shows, the people who are on our screens for 30 minutes all day long, are teachers. That is how I view it.

      As I said in another post, kids of all ages watch FN programs. So, when push comes to shove, you cannot train/teach children to cook like Paula does. It isn’t a healthy way to live a life.

      • 51

        says

        I don’t think that I know a single child who watches the FD. And futhermore, why can’t the parent turn off the television? Shouldn’t parents take responsibility for teaching their children about nutrion? Adults who should know better than taking health advice from Paula Deen? Our children are surrounded with tons of negative influences and parents have a responsibility to protect thier children from these negative influences. So what’s so hard about turning off the television and sending the kids outside to play?

  27. 52

    says

    While I understand the reaction to Paula’s choices, I am inclined to agree with Emmie. She is a celebrity and she is choosing to manage her diabetes in her way. Yes, by being a celebrity, she is putting herself into the public eye and, by association, is acting as a role model. Many people may look to her and her sponsorship and go for the medication instead of diet change, but we don’t know how hard it is going to be for her to change what she eats and cooks.

    Additionally, I think this can bring up a lot of discussion about personal responsibility as a celebrity and as a blogger. When blogging responsibly was discussed back when the Marie Claire article popped up across the blogosphere, I noticed a lot of the reactions were to state that as readers, we have to choose to read responsibly. Granted, as bloggers, our audience is smaller than Paula Deen’s, but I think you could make the same argument here regarding exercising personal judgment. We are only seeing what she chooses to present to us, and as bloggers, we are only presenting a small part of our lives.

    That’s my .02.

    • 53

      says

      Your .02 are crucial in the discussion, so I’m glad you shared it!

      The part that bothers me most is how contrived this new Novo Nordisk project seems to be. I have no problem with her taking drugs if it’s the best course for her, but to not address the fact that for MANY people, diet and fitness can go a long way toward prevention or treatment is reckless.

      It feels like she’s sold out, more than just building a brand on cookbooks and TV shows.

      Agree to disagree? I love the debate!

  28. 54

    says

    Oh good, I am not alone here. I looked at the videos and then argued with myself if I wanted to be the first to disagree. Then I came back and saw Emmie and deva’s comments.
    I think she IS handling this appropriately for her fan base and her personality and her own lifestyle.. She took the 3 yrs to take care of herself first ….and get a handle on it and figure out HOW she could help others . — as is often preached in health & Fitness — because she didn’t know..she said that.
    Being the celebrity that she is, around food no less, this whole thing could have imploded her lively hood as well. First and foremost, she is stating you must work with your doctor’s. and often times that means medications, diet and exercise.
    She made the announcement when she was PREPARED.. Yes, it came with a launch of a new website but it still has her personality in tack and she can show that it doesn’t have to change EVERYTHING.
    I liked that she said her in moderation and reminded us that those meals she cooked with what she ate 30 days out of 365……NOT every day. I like that it is reminded that 1 in every 3 adults in this country are PRE diabetic.
    One of the biggest fears, I see around blogosphere, for those of us that are NOT there yet, is the fear of losing the food…the taste..the comfort…thinking food will just be fuel and salads with no dressings.
    My own healthy habits started with learning to cook….THEN I could experiment with those things I enjoy but in a healthier fashion. It is NOT an overnight change.
    and as far as a pharmaceutical company as her backer…..BRAVO….smart business decision….they have the $$ power to get her message out (whether we like that fact or not)

    My .02 cents…

  29. 57

    says

    No, I don’t think you are overreacting. I think your response is perfect. I used to work for the dialysis non-profit, and one of the leading causes of kidney failure is diabetes, which is often related to obesity. Paula Deen has a huge following, and this was an opportunity for her to be an example and really demonstrate for people that chronic disease result from unhealthy eating habits – a connection I think is really hard for a lot of people to grasp. Although the new “Diabetes in a New Light” is a step in the right direction, I really lost respect for her because she had the opportunity to really send an important message to people. Yes, Paula Deen is a normal person, and this is certainly a personal struggle she is going through, but I think that she completely overlooked her ability to reach out to millions of people and help them understand the serious consequences of unhealthy habits.

  30. 58

    says

    As someone who was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance (which is a precursor to Type II diabetes), I was able to get my glucose levels down to a normal level with diet and exercise. This is not possible for everyone because some people do have mobility issues but that does not seem to be an issue for Paula Deen. When my doctor first told me about my skyrocketing glucose levels and what the effects it can have on my body, it scared me enough that I was willing to make drastic changes. I’m not even sure if I want children but was told that my levels were so high that conceiving would be nearly impossible. My point here is that when you have a serious medical condition, and you are able to make lifestyle changes to fix it, you should at least try.

    Paula Deen missed a great chance to educate people on this sometimes preventable serious disease and she blew it.

  31. 61

    says

    Agreed – I was disappointed in her Today Show interview too. She totally brushed off any idea that the foods she makes could be related and instead just promoted a new drug. I LOVE the “new” response you wrote.

  32. 62

    says

    I personally cannot stand Paula Deen..never have…shoot I went to Savannah and did NOT eat at her restaurant because there was absolutely nothing on the menu my daughter nor I would have eaten!
    But, yea she should take it more seriously and be accountable for her own actions/health…BUT she is who she is, as I am who I am…and how she chooses to deal w/her diabetes is her choice..I don’t have to agree with it..nor disagree with it…she is her brand… butter/fat/all that…. she doesn’t affect me one way or the other…

  33. 64

    says

    I think you are spot on. With so many kids now getting what used to be called adult-onset diabetes due to their poor diets, I think celebrity chefs can help rather than hurt, such as the work Jamie Oliver has done. By going public with her diagnosis with a message such as the one you crafted, she could have done a lot of good. I wish, too, that more people would turn to healthy eating and exercise to manage/cure their conditions (when possible), rather than turning to drugs.

  34. 65

    says

    You’re not over-reacting. Thank you for writing this. She didn’t break her leg, she gave herself a deadly condition by not taking care of herself. I was appalled to hear how much money she’s making with that drug company.

  35. 66

    Marcee says

    You did great Katy. I took everything you said very seriously.

    Well, I am not a Paula fan. Her shows do not interest me.

    In the beginning, before she became a high flauten millionaire, her FN show was so-so. My downfall w/Paula was when she made that Krispy Creme casserole-cake, or whatever it was. She actually added another full cup of sugar to all those horrid (12!!!) donuts!?!? Sugar-shock. I could not believe she did that on TV. Dumb. It left me wondering about her state of mind ….. her overall heath and what she is/was teaching others. Especially, young kids. They watch Food Network programs. One would think they are safe ….. but ….. ???? Not so much.

    Also, one of her (the woman loves paydays!) money-deals with the pig farm. This crude company is well-known for the cruelty and terrible conditions they use on those animals. They are kept in very tiny cages and cannot even move. Sick.

    I do not eat pig. Others do I know. But for PD to advertise the products, means (to me) she tolerates animal abuse. Not right in my book. I cannot look up to her as a special person. Obviously, PD wants those huge paychecks.

    Always sad when money overrules everything else.

  36. 67

    says

    You are absolutely right Katy!!!! She took no responsibility, she used Diabetes to further her career. Paula could have sent a message to others on prevention of Diabetes rather than playing the victim.

  37. 68

    says

    I agree that she needs to take it more seriously, someone very close to me has type 2 diabetes and seeing how she doesn’t take care of herself and the repercussions from it really upsets me. HOWEVER, I honestly don’t see the big deal with all this. Who are we to make all this speculation that her diet is the cause of all this? Yes, her show can be ridiculous at times but I highly doubt she eats like that all of the time. Her dishes are only best served once in awhile and in very small portions. What about her sons? They’ve grown up with her cooking yet don’t have any issues, it could be because they don’t eat like that all the time. OR I could be wrong and she really does eat like this all the time and it’s why she now has type 2 diabetes. And if that’s the case, why should we care? She’s never been the picture of health and nutritious foods, why start now? Her having diabetes isn’t going to change her brand.

  38. 69

    says

    I only saw some of the interview, but have seen others talking about it. And I must say I am not surprised and a little upset with how she is handling. So many people look to her, and this is how she is handling it?? but with other celebrities working with drugs companies I am not surprised. it makes me sad.

  39. 71

    says

    I just wrote about my feelings, but your post really summarizes everything I said. I am just so frustrated by how indifferent she seemed during the interview.

    I’m sure there is much more happening behind closed doors that we do not see, but to me, it seemed like she was more focused on promoting her partnership and protecting her “food empire.”

    It just rubs me the wrong way…

  40. 72

    says

    I agree – I think she missed a wonderful opportunity to really put the spotlight on diabetes and the simple changes in lifestyle that can go a long way towards helping people manage it. I also think she’s done herself a huge disservice by not directly answering the questions about her food and habits in relation to the disease. I can see why someone might have advised her not to do so – essentially, don’t engage with that conversation and hope it goes away – but since that food IS Paula Deen to many people, it’s not going to go away. And by not speaking to it she’s inviting speculation and rumors.

    I don’t blame her for doing what she did, but I agree that it could have been handled much better and with much more openness and honesty.

  41. 73

    Lyndsi says

    Please allow me to respectfully disagree. The target audience for this seems to be people who already have diabetes (or their caregivers). Showing people who suffer from the condition that they can control the disease, instead of being controlled by it, is hopeful.

  42. 76

    says

    Well said Katy. Paula Deen should hire you as her spokesperson. I look forward to the day when the world stops medicating and starts catching on to what it means to live a healthy life (without dismissing it as a hippie thing as I think they currently do). I love kombucha and think it has great health benefits and was reading an article that called it a drink for “health-food fanatics”. We have a long way to go I think. :)

  43. 77

    says

    I agree with you that Paula should have presented this differently. She had (has?) such an amazing opportunity to held educate people, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like she’s going to take that route. To me it’s hard of the (frustratingly prevalent) attitude on the US of not taking personal responsibility. Yes, it’s hard to acknowledge that choices you made have ended up putting you in a dangerous situation, but ultimately that’s what this seems to be.

  44. 78

    says

    Like she said “I’m your cook, not your doctor”, BUT she did not take responsibility for her own health AT ALL! When asked if she was going to change her habits, she basically said she has ALWAYS eaten in moderation. By the looks of it, that’s NOT the case. Even worse, she plans to keep eating the same way. That’s extremely irresponsible, and like Victoria said, the uninformed consumer might be swayed by her actions. She is certainly not helping matters at all.

  45. 79

    Sarah says

    I think it was Anthony Bourdain that called her the most dangerous woman in America. Which is funny until you really think that she promotes a certain lifestyle that causes bad health and then turns around to promote a drug to treat that exact condition she was promoting.

    Bourdain also said something like, “maybe I’ll start breaking legs so that later I can cut a profitable deal to promote a crutch company.” It’s plain and simple to me.

  46. 80

    says

    Paula should have hired you as her spokesperson! Like you, I’m disappointed with the approach she took. My Grandpa had diabetes and died from diabetes-related causes. My father-in-law has diabetes and I fear the idea that my husband may someday follow in those footsteps because of genetics. Diabetes is a serious disease, one that can’t be corrected with a magic pill. Paula, you could have had such a positive impact on people. It’s not too late to change your tune!

  47. 81

    says

    I’m torn here. I agree she seems to make light of it a bit—but I’m sure she is worried that the media **itstorm (which, you, as an influential are contributing to—with good points made!) will take over who she is and who she’s always been, which is a Southern cook. This woman has built an enormously successful career on butter and fried chicken, which she has a right to do. I don’t think it’s her responsibility personally to start preaching spinach smoothies, unless that’s actually what her diagnosis has made her feel. And yes, she is overweight, but not ridiculously so—that isn’t necessarily the reason she has diabetes.

    I think my point it—diabetes is dangerous, and I love that the food blog community has exposed me to healthy recipes to try to combat health problems. But I also love Paula’s recipes! So I agree with her point about moderation. I kind of had a problem with your letter b/c while well-written with many good points, it’s what Katy thinks, not what Paula thinks. I’m not so worried about the drug company part of it. I mean, if the drugs work for her, promoting them is just as responsible as promoting super-healthy food would be. Plus, I think she is promoting it to people who already have diabetes (healthy food is not a cure if you have the disease already). Just my two cents!

  48. 83

    says

    My dad, a surgeon, says that Type 2 diabetes is almost ALWAYS caused because of lifestyle choices. Paula is just simply wrong. Her cooking and foods and her lifestyle has brought this disease to her life…..and instead of CHANGing that, she is just tweaking it to how SHE wants it—and making a buttload of money off of that.

    That is disgusting and sad. This is prob why America has the money and health care issues it does, actually.

  49. 84

    i.e. says

    Eh, she never said that her cooking was healthy. If the people watching her show are dumb enough to think that ANYONE can eat like that for every meal, well they are not smart enough to listen to good advice either. It doesn’t sound to me that Paula Dean intends to cut all of the unhealthy out of her life…because food is so engrained in her life. So to write a letter like you have stated just might be a lie. Your letter was quite nice, and much like many people wish that Paula Dean would conduct her life. Thankfully it is still her life and she gets to live it however she pleases for as long as her body keeps working.
    Do I know that eating all healthy properly prepared vegetables and low fat meats is better for me and I will live longer & be healthier doing it? Yes, but I don’t want to live my life that way and if it means I cut years off the end of my life…I know I atleast enjoyed these years. Is that everyone’s attitude? No. I respect that. Do I eat like total crap all the time, no. Do I sometimes, yes. But, it is my responsibility to educate myself and look at my family health history and determine what I want my now and my future to look like. There is lots of information from nutritionist and doctors available for me to learn from.
    It is not Paula Dean’s responsibility to teach everyone about Diabetes or how to live their life or which recipes people should cook of hers. She isn’t a doctor. She is a Southern cook.
    I don’t know exactly what all my point is. How she is handling her life and her television shows and business…isn’t really my business…we see her public side, but if we see her, it’s our choice. I can choose to watch her shows if I like them, or not watch them if I don’t. I can purchase her products if I think they are right for me, or I can choose not to. I don’t know why I am offered more choices than her. It’s like the only option for her is to be an advocate for healthy eating and living AFTER she has been diagnosed with a disease.

  50. 85

    says

    I wrote my entire blog post today on this issue. And honestly…I don’t think Paula owes any of anything. I think she did miss an opportunity to be more forthcoming and change certain aspects of her cooking show…but the bottom line is none of us know how she eats in her day to day life; none of us knows if she diet even caused her diabetes diagnosis and how she chooses to react to it and her business. She doesn’t owe us anything. She is not a doctor or a nutritionist…she is a TV personality who has worked her ass off to get where she is today. If she wants to hook up with a big Pharm company that is her business and who are we to judge her? Who are we to say that how she handled this is wrong. It may not be how you would have handled this but it doesn’t make it wrong…just different from you.

  51. 87

    says

    No, you aren’t overreacting. Healthy living, especially healthy eating has been being overlooked by our society for decades. People think that not taking care of yourself is just “enjoying life.” It’s not. It’s irresponsible to the people to yourself and to the people around you, and more and more to other citizens, who many times end up paying for your irresponsible choices. (Plus, plenty of people are incredibly happy leading a balanced, healthy life.)

    This is something I’ve really never, ever gotten. In our society we critique other people so much for seemingly irresponsible decisions. “That mother is horrible, she lets her child do whatever he wants.” “That person isn’t trying hard enough to find a job.” But when it comes to food we LOVE to see people making a lifetime of irresponsible decisions, consciously, day in and day out. And then we say it’s their right to lead their life like this, like everything is okay. Yes, it is their right, but so are a lot of other things we as a society deem irresponsible and unacceptable. It’s time we start holding people responsible for the decisions they make in terms of health.

  52. 88

    Jessie B says

    As a very healthy Type 1 Diabetic, it’s always frustrating to hear about a type 2 not taking a diagnosis seriously. Mine truly was not preventable (no type 1 is preventable) and it’s true, maybe it was in her family, so it was more than just her weight and diet that caused it, but if she knew it was in her family she could have done things to MAYBE prevent it or at least gotten into good habits so if the diagnosis couldn’t have been prevented, she would have had a healthy body as a base to start working with. I will take care of my frustration by donating to jdrf.org (juvenile diabetes research foundation)…

  53. 89

    says

    Bravo. It’s so disappointing that she hasn’t taken this opportunity to share with others that diet and exercise modification are amazing ways to tackle type 2 diabetes – instead of just taking the easy way out with a pill that will mask the problem but not fix the root of it.

  54. 91

    says

    Katy, loved what you thought Paula’s response should have been. So true. However, what really surprised me when she came out, was that people were shocked to find out she had diabetes. Come on, are people that naive to think they can eat like that and NOT have diabetes? Granted she once said she was our cook, not our doctor, which is all well and good. Cooking her food, to me, is no different then people going to McDonalds and eating big macs and large fries. Its up to each of us to take responsibility for our own health. I love to watch her cook. She is vibrant, happy and fun, however, I don’t cook her food. If I do, I make alterations to make it healthier. I do not want to put all that butter & fried stuff in my body. For people to be hard on her for keeping this a secret is unbelievable to me. She has a business to run. She does what sells for her. She could take advantage of the situation and really help the public make wise choices, but she said herself she would never give up cooking with butter. So, if she refuses to alter her lifestyle, she has no alternative but to take medications. I too feel bad about the whole thing, but for people to believe that lifestyle won’t get them in trouble is irresponsible and stupid. Granted her diabetes might be front genetics, but you have to know that eating like that does not help the situation. She could do so much more for her fans by taking responsibility, but unfortunately she hasn’t done that. Her kids and grandkids will also end up in the same boat if they continue to follow in her footsteps.

  55. 92

    says

    Completely agree. They’re really playing down something that carries serious risks.

    Also – continuing to push high fat, fried, butter-butter-butter dishes after getting the news is completely disgusting and shows how ultimately she’s just chasing money.

  56. 93

    Ellie says

    I agree 100%. Paula could certainly used this as a “teaching opportunity” and done some real good. Her approach was definately disappointing.

  57. 94

    Sunshine Taylor says

    This is the most well written article on the “Paula Deen diabetes situation” (perhaps the only) that I have read. I was particularly impressed with “Paula’s/your” letter to her fan base. I like what I know of Paula Deen, the person, the mother, and savvy the business woman. I have seen other bloggers, medical professionals, journalists, and television personalities approach this situation with extreme arrogance, as though is their duty, nay, their “calling” to “fix” Paula Deen. Paula Deen is a multimillionaire. It is my sincere hope that she choose to bend her current pathway but only she can make that choice. In the meantime, there is a very real fear that uninformed, adoring fans might see her lack of compliance with a diet and exercise regime as endorsement of a that diabetic lifestyle. With a public life, and a public paycheck, comes a level of public accountability. Her fans love her… she can show her love for them by loving herself.

  58. 95

    says

    Love your post! I also was disspointed (?) by this “news.” What really got me is that she’s been diagnosed for years, but only made this announcement when she had the NovoNordisk deal in place. Anyway, my husb has Type 2 and he is fit and slender. His eating habits are not ideal, but not atrocious either. He’s taken his diagnosis pretty seriously and seems to have things under control (he does not need insulin). On the other hand, I have family members who also have Type 2 and who continue to cook and eat a la Paula Dean and that is frustrating!

  59. 96

    Marie McG says

    Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe the network execs have told her to keep her mouth shut? It is possible in order to keep her ratings up they told her to watch what she says about her own diabetes. I can completely see this being the case through network execs. And if it is the case, it could also be why she chose to keep quiet for three years. Maybe they told her to until they could find a way to put a profitable spin on it? After all, her son, Bobby is now doing “Not my mama’s meals” where he takes a lighter approach to Paula’s butter-heavy dishes.

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