It’s a funny world we live in. Sports stars are either revered or reviled, depending on the day. Celebrities are “in” or “out” depending on who is writing about them. But Food Network stars and cookbook authors usually aren’t the fodder for numerous talk shows and hundreds of Internet articles – unless it’s the not so startling revelation that Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes.
Paula Deen, who is famous for saying that her “favorite spice is butter,” is well-known for outrageously unhealthy recipes like deep-fried cheesecake and casseroles rich enough to add points to your cholesterol immediately.
I admit to having several of her early cookbooks, like the one featured above. (She looks a lot different in those un-Photoshopped pictures – I bet she wishes I didn’t still have that book!) Some of my family’s favorite recipes are hers, although I changed to make them healthy. For example, her Pecan chicken recipe calls for an entire stick of butter to be drizzled over the chicken. Obviously I chose not to do that, and kept the recipe healthy and low fat.
The controversy with her diagnosis is multi-layered. Apparently she was diagnosed three years ago and kept it quiet. I completely respect her privacy rights. However, I wonder if she had a moral responsibility to begin changing the way she taught and encouraged people to cook on her television show and through the cookbooks she has recently published?
I saw her on a Christmas special this past December where she laughed and joked about the fat, sugar and calories in the dishes she was making and tasting. Now that I know she has diabetes, I am surprised she was eating those foods and a bit disappointed that she chose not to use her fame and platform to teach people that you can cook healthy, delicious meals.
It’s interesting that on an interview on the Today show, she referred to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis as a lifestyle issue. She never wanted to address her weight, which several articles have called her out on. She also did not indicate that she would change the way she encouraged people to cook.
With the obesity epidemic in our county, the incidence of type 2 diabetes rising, and even children suffering from this previously adult disease – I would have loved for her to become a role model for healthy lifestyle changes including getting to a healthier weight and training other cooks to make delicious, healthy food.
Instead, she is now a spokesperson for a diabetes drug, Novo Nordisk. Sources say that lucurative contract is the reason that she has now shared her diagnosis publicly.
It makes me disappointed because I do admire her story of going from a struggling single mom with two young sons to a mega-star. I may be wrong and you may disagree with me, but I believe those in the public eye do have a responsibility to do their best to be a good role model – whether they are sports stars or cookbook queens.
What’s your take? Do you think those three years that Paula kept her diagnosis quiet she should have been merrily dunking cheesecake in hot oil without feeling a tad bit guilty? Diane
For another perspective on Paula Deen, click on over to Dr. J’s article.