Oy, this is really bad news that Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. But if you watch her video message on the Diabetes In a New Light site, you wouldn't know that. In fact, she almost makes it seem (with the soft lighting and sappy music) that life is better WITH diabetes.
In the video, Paula never mentions, of course, what can happen if diabetes is not managed properly. It is a really scary disease that’s not that easy to understand. It affects a whole host of different systems in the body. The reality is that a diagnosis of diabetes is, at the very least, life altering, and can be life threatening or, even, life ending.
I would imagine, though, that it’s not that helpful to terrify people with all the possible horrible outcomes when they’re first diagnosed…or even later. People have to feel they have some control over the disease and that it can be treated or even reversed.
I know that Paula and her boys’ appearance on The Today Show this morning to announce the news was only the first step. But I would have liked a more proactive approach - as in…THIS is what you can do NOW to limit your risk or to live a healthier life with diabetes.
For example, there are plenty of well-known studies that report that eating a cup of beans a day can reduce a diabetic’s need for insulin. And exercise is a huge component of anyone’s healthy lifestyle, but it’s especially important for diabetics. Paula did mention exercise and said she goes on walks with her husband now. But if you’ve seen the adorable Michael, you’ll know that he’s not exactly breaking any speed or endurance records.
It’s so hard. I have such ambivalent feelings about all this. On the one hand, I want my old happy-go-lucky Paula back, who has no real-world cares as she flings butter and cream around with abandon and deep fries anything that doesn’t get her first. But on the other hand, Paula has a huge opportunity to use her massive marketing machine to show us that if SHE can change the way she eats, ANYONE can.
I’m nervous that in her zeal not to undo her life’s work of over the top, super-fatty and sweet (and super-delicious) recipes, Paula is going to be super-careful not to diss her cooking of the past. And thus, on television anyway, it’s going to be difficult for her to change her style of cooking too radically or say anything much more than moderation is the key. Wouldn’t it be amazing if she became Clinton-fit and a vegan…and reversed her need for the drug from Novo Nordisk for whom she’s a paid spokesperson?
Of course, that’s probably not the way most people react to news of diabetes either and Paula is no one, if not every
man woman. Changing food habits and editing out all the good (as in bad for you) stuff we eat is hard.
I love Paula. I don’t want people talking smack about her. I’m worried for her. I love her zest for life and I don’t want that to end anytime soon. But there is an ick factor to all this. We can’t pretend that diet isn’t a huge part of why so many people are getting Type 2 diabetes.
Paula has gotten real with the public before. Remember when she wrote her autobiography and Larry King asked her really idiotic questions? She was open about the tough times in her life, about her agoraphobia and the different mistakes she had made. Couldn’t this health situation have been an opportunity for her to say, “I have to change things in order to be around for the family I love. Those recipes were then. THIS is now and I want to share a new way of cooking and eating with you.”?
The argument that she always pushed moderation is really a nonstarter. Did ANYONE get that from any of her shows? But the truth is also that I never watched Paula to get a blueprint of how to cook or what to eat. I watched her to hear her laugh and to see the twinkle in her eyes when her boys were near.
We shouldn’t forget that she has had 3 years to get used to the idea of diabetes and I actually hope that in her own private life she ISN’T reacting the way she’s trying to make it appear. I hope she HAS been scared by the diagnosis and is working hard to get healthier. Hope, laughter, optimism and love are all powerful drugs, but they don’t replace careful eating and vigorous exercise.