There's been a lot of buzz around the internet the last week about a celebrity chef who has Type 2 diabetes. This morning the rumors have been confirmed. Paula Deen spoke with USAToday this morning and shared that she has been struggling with type 2 diabetes for three years. She's also inked a new deal with Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company which makes diabetes medication.
First, I'd like to start by saying I'm very sorry to hear of Paula's diagnosis. Diabetes can be a challenging disease to deal with and the health complications from it can be very serious. I hope that she manages to get her diabetes under control and wish her well on this healthy journey.
On the other hand, I'm wondering about how this will change or affect her cooking and the food that she has promoted. She does say that she and her sons have created diabetic friendly versions of some of her recipes. And she is exercising and has given up sweet tea. But she still plans to promote, for the most part, the same type of food. In the USAToday article they quote Paula as saying she's not changing her show because of the diagnosis but, "I suspect I'll stick to my roots but will say a little louder, 'Eat this in moderation.'"
That's really not the answer. Paula Deen is uniquely poised to be a beacon for nutrition education, to help people understand the connection between your food, your thinking about your food, and your health. To continue to eat food which you know is a major cause of your illness and expect to simply take medication to correct it is not honoring your body. It's time to grow up and move past the child-like petulance that says 'I like this so I'm going to eat it anyway.' There is so much wonderful food out there, so many flavors, textures, methods of cooking, and more. There's no need to limit yourself to one type of cooking, especially if you know it's making you sick. As someone who works with food every day she is certainly in a position to make delicious food that is also healthy.
Diabetes is an illness that, for many, responds very well to dietary changes. Reducing sugars, increasing nutrient density, using healthy fats, etc. Yes, changing dietary patterns takes some time. Yes it takes some time for your palate to adjust as well. But it is possible and it is so very worthwhile.
It is my sincere hope that this is early days yet. Perhaps now that she is becoming a public face for diabetes and diet Paula Deen will learn to make healthy, delicious changes. I always say "Eat well to be well." I hope that she can learn to do this and teach others to do the same.