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.
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.
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,
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.
“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.”
- 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)
So, here’s what Paula Deen should have said.
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.
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.