‘Sweet’ Move?

by Khushboo on January 23, 2012

Ever since the news about celebrity chef Paula Deen having Type 2 Diabetes was announced, I have been reading a few articles on it.  For those who aren’t aware:

Paula Deen is a TV chef who is known for overly generous use of butter, lard, sugar to cook “Comfort Food”.  She was diagnosed with Types 2 Diabetes three years ago and only recently revealed it to the public.  There’s quite a bit of controversy around whether or not she should have hid it so I wanted to weigh in:

Being diagnosed with any health condition is never easy, regardless of who you are.  It can definitely take a while to come to terms with the reality of it and figuring out what the next step is.  I get that.  However I’m guessing her decision to stay private about it also had something to do with the fact that her cuisine is linked to Type 2 Diabetes.

What exactly is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t properly use the insulin which the body makes.  Insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas, which helps the body use glucose (aka sugar) from food/drinks.  The buildup of glucose in the blood can lead to serious health complications such as improper cell function, harmed organs and increased risk of heart disease.   While there are very few instances of Type 2 diabetes that can be attributed to genetics alone, the development has a stronger link to our exercise habits, eating patterns, and weight. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is referred to as ‘slow-onset’ diabetes.

Each to their own but I personally think that Paula Deen’s approaching her diagnosis less than optimally. Although she is a paid spokesperson for the diabetic drug Novo Nordisk, drugs alone aren’t the answer.  I’m no doctor but I do know that lifestyle modifications are always the first line of prevention and treatment for Type 2 diabetes.  In other words, feel free to continue popping those pills but also modify your eating habits and start incorporating regular exercise into your days.

As of now, Paula has no plans to make any major changes to her cooking methods.  Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the spokesperson for a diabetic drug company simultaneously cooks calorie-laden, decadent dishes…and also slightly hypocritical??  When you are promoting a style of cooking and the use of certain ingredients, don’t shy away from the reality of it: foods high in fat and sugar contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.

Paula Deen's Lady's Brunch Burger: half-pound of beef, topped with bacon and an egg fried in butter, served with two Krispy Kreme donuts in lieu of a bun

“Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself.” – Paula Deen

She’s right she’s no doctor.  While I’m all for moderation, there’s a limit especially when your life is on the line.  She is in the public eye so if anything, she should consider her diagnosis as an opportunity to educate her viewers and those who can learn from her situation.  Much of the reason why people don’t adopt a healthier lifestyle is because of lack of knowledge.  In addition to using her status to promote medication, I hope that Paula will eventually introduce healthier recipes on her show as proof that it is possible to enjoy delicious food without having to deep-fry a cheesecake or chugging melted butter.  Sure she once banked on her ‘comfort’ style of cooking but there’s no reason why she can’t now bank on being a celebrity chef who teaches the public ways to change their eating habits to manage/treat diabetes.

And that, my friends, is my $0.02.

What’s your take on the way Paula Deen handled her diagnosis?

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Parita @ myinnershakti January 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I agree with what you’re saying. Her health is her business, but the fact that she’s now making money off all of this is crazy. I don’t think people really understand how widespread Type 2 diabetes is, and PD’s behavior isn’t helping the cause and is really sending the wrong messages. I was never a huge fan of hers but this situation just rubbed me the wrong way!

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

Exactly- I was shocked by the studies which revealed just how prevalent Type 2 Diabetes is…which is such a shame beacause it CAN be controlled/prevented!

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honeywhatscooking January 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Dude, she’s such a sell out. I do like Paula, but COMMON! I live near NYC and I think that the majority of America is like NYC and that is so not true. THe folks in the south and midwest really don’t have a clue when it comes to eating right. I’m sure they blindly follow her and I think it was wrong of her to hide this for as long as she did. And conveniently she came out with it since she is getting “paid” to do the ads. WRONG! How much money do you possibly need? I totally agree, if she just changed her lifestyle and started making comfort food healthier, she would help millions of Americans improve their weight problems. I’m so annoyed at her! :-)

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

I love the point you raised! Because I rarely come to the US, I tend to associate all of America living the way those in LA/NYC do- so not true!

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honeywhatscooking January 25, 2012 at 1:19 am

also… on the Rachael Ray show they were discussing diabetes, and it is a FACT that if you simply change your lifestyle, you don’t need the meds. my mom is diabetic, but the poor lady doesn’t eat anything white – including white rice which is a big deal for desis. My mom doesn’t need to prick herself either.. so it’s all about choices. how about saying i’m diabetic, i will change the way i cook, not support yet another drug and get paid for it. her empire is worth like 20 Million if not more, people will do anything for a $.

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Wow she needs to take advice from your mom! I’m glad to read that your mom has her diabetes under control and you’re right, it’s absolutely about choices! Unlike diagnosis like cancers, type 2 is one that we CAN improve with a little effort/modifications!

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forgottenbeast January 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I see nothing wrong with her keeping it a secret–even if you’re a celebrity, there’s a line between your personal and your professional life. Her job is to make the sort of food she’s famous for, so even if she can no longer eat such food on a regular basis, if she still cooks it for her show/magazine/etc…well, nothing wrong with that, it’s just a greater example of how you can enjoy such foods, just do it in moderation/responsibly.

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thanks for bringing an alternative view to the table- I just hope that she practices moderation for the sake of her own health!

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Alexandra January 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I agree, I think it’s kinda crazy how she’s still promoting such a horrible diet when she’s been diagnosed with something that’s probably a direct result of her cooking. Granted, she’s no doctor, but I think she should make some healthy tweaks so others won’t end up in her shoes, ya know?

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

Yessir, I don’t think she really gets the depth of the situation!

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Tessa @ Amazing Asset January 24, 2012 at 12:48 am

I agree with you and what others wrote here too… it is too bad she has diabetes, I mean that is really terrible and I am sorry for her! It is her business and we all know how she got it. She should not be making money off of this diagnosis though, not at all

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

It just goes to show that there really is no line when it comes to making money- sad!

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Kiah January 24, 2012 at 3:13 am

This is such an interesting post. Apparently I’ve been living in a bit of a hole, as I hadn’t heard of Paula D being diagnosed with T2 diabetes. I think she’s kind of got herself between a rock and a hard space…she is clearly making TONS of mula off her cooking. Overall though, I agree with you–she should definitely make those lifestlye changes. Who knows? Maybe she is…we don’t know what REALLY goes on in that kitchen ;-)

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

Good point- just because you’re making something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating it! However I did see an image of her chugging melted butter which shocked me…hopefully she isn’t doing so post-diagnosis!

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Tracy's Treats January 24, 2012 at 5:11 am

I feel bad that Paula Deen was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but it irks me a bit that she is promoting a drug instead of making lifestyle changes. To send the right message to the public, I don’t think promoting some type of quick fix is the answer.

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

There really is no quick-fix when it comes to our health…if it was so easy, we’d all be in tip-top shape!

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Ameena January 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

I admire Paula for all she’s accomplished on her own. She is a smart lady! And while I don’t agree with her hopping on the drug bandwagon she is nothing if not shrewd and I once again have to admire her for that!

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:24 am

Shrewd is right. If anything, she is the lady knows how/where to capitalise!

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Christina Does It All January 24, 2012 at 8:43 am

Completely agree with you. Though that Krispy Kreme burger thing is making my mouth water….At the same time I want to stay as far away from it as possible…:P

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Khushboo Thadani January 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

Haha as much as i have a sweet tooth, Krispy Kremes leave me defeated…even I can’t handle that much sugar!

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daviddag January 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I hope I don’t sound like a conspiracy nut when I say that the more ill people there are the more money pharmaceutical companies will make. If everyone ate healthy food, stopped smoking, and exercised more there would be less heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. this would mean not only less money from the drugs to treat these diseases, but they would also sell less vitamin supplements.

Paula Dean cooking + Novo Nordisk = $$

This makes me wonder if the fast food franchises and drug manufactures don’t have shares in each other.

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You don’t sound like a nut at all…or if you do, so do I then because I completely agree with you! As much as medicine companies are out to help others with their products, I’m not so sure whether our good health is in their best interest! Sad to admit it but it really is all about the money at the end of the day!

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Jen January 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I agree with forgotten beast! But yes ,maybe she should indulge in some sort of awareness to her “fans” taken that she’s infected with Type 2 diabetics! But many celebrities’ feel it is untoward on they’re part to create a “publicity stunt” gaining sympathy and all that. Again,I think celebrities shouldn’t be held criminal for such things as these.Her indifference probably can be forgiven under the pretext of compassionate grounds.

A Nice thought provoking post Khushboo! :)

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I can understand that she wanted to keep it for wraps to avoid it being a publicity stunt but at the same time, I also think she could be handling the situation much better so as to benefit both her own health and the health of others!

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Brittany January 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm

She is killing herself with the foods she eats! She is great and loveable, but she is in denial of her health and needs to take action! Moderation is key!

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Alyse January 25, 2012 at 4:52 am

I completely agree with you – I find it cynical and disingenuous that she announced her disease and her partnership with a drug company on the same day. She had an opportunity to be a role model to her fans, and start an honest dialogue about diabetes and the best ways to manage and prevent it (exercise and eating well!) and she let it sail by her, all for the drug company money. Consider me disappointed.

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

It’s not a good idea to begin with but to admit both on the same day- wow! Apparently her PR spokeswoman of 6 years just quit!

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jojo January 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

I wasn’t aware that Paula Dean was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, but I’m not really surprised. She starts puts butter in EVERYTHING.
I’m not against comfort food, but the image you posted of the burger made of donuts horrifies me!
She is fun, personable, smart, and so many other things. I completely agree with you, she would be a great person to be a role model on changing eating habits and promoting a healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes out there!

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I am sure you would agree that plenty of DELICIOUS comfort food can be made without relying on butter/sugar (at least not the amounts she promotes)!

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Mallory January 25, 2012 at 8:00 am

great post. i sincerely hope that this is a wake-up call to her, as it seems like she completely made a joke out of her love for copious amounts of butter and other artery-clogging foods… I hope it was a wake-up call to everyone else who eats unhealthily. I’m glad it’s out in the open…it was not a shock to me, that’s for sure!

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Yes she really is taking the situation a bit too lightly…the word denial comes to mind!

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Gayatri January 25, 2012 at 8:47 am

You know I never had a problem with Paula Deen. I felt she was entitled to her choices. But I once saw her cook an entire lobster in ghee instead of water and I realized, this woman truly has no regard for good health. Good for her for making her millions. But I truly feel bad for anyone who follows her recipes blindly.

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Khushboo Thadani January 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Yikes I don’t know how she could go there! No one is forced to follow her recipes but at the same time, I hope those who do actually do practice moderation..it’s scary to think the results of consuming her meals on a regular basis! And while she always says ‘moderation is key’ with her foods, how many people can truly say they follow that!

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Neel January 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Totally agree with your post! its difficult being type 2 with alll the temptations of fast food & snack machines readily available – so if people in the limelight who also have the condition don’t realise they need to change their ways then that is very poor!

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Khushboo Thadani January 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

True story..somebody needs to set an example!

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com January 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I’ve stopped believing that celebrities are “good role models”! In fact, they are often the opposite. Look at Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson — ok ok, they aren’t famous food aficionados, but I am making my personal choice to NOT be a drug or alcohol addict. Same goes to food personality. If you are watching her show, instead of 2 sticks of butter, use avocadoes instead ;)

On a serious note, I get that Paula should be more sensitive towards her fans. Her lack of ability to see the “truth” about the diet she is promoting is so appalling!!!

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Khushboo Thadani January 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

Avocado for the win…it works as a great butter/mayo alternative!

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