I’ll admit it. I believed Paula Deen’s critics when they disparaged her for pushing butter and sugar in her recipes and on her cooking shows while she was secretly dealing with her diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. But then I met Paula and my opinion quickly changed.
Nell Stuart and I flanking Paula Deen at breakfast reception in Philadelphia.
We diabetes educators are accustomed to this scenario from our own patients. We understand the emotions that pour forth when a person feels that life will change forever now with diabetes, and not for the better! And here was Paula Deen, revealing her own emotional turmoil and how she eventually decided to take control of her diabetes with a candor that just oozed out of her. As I listened to her I kept thinking what a great service she is providing the diabetic community. She’s put a face on type 2 diabetes. A famous face that once represented unhealthy eating but now speaks of moderation and balance on the plate.We guests were served five brunch dishes, all of them Paula’s recipes, all of them diabetes-friendly, and all of them delicious! The greatest treat of all was sitting just a few feet away from Paula and listening to her explain what it was like for her when she learned she had type 2 diabetes. Her story was all too familiar, a very human story of an unsuspecting person going through phases of denial, fear and anxiety, anger and grief when told, “You have diabetes.”
Instead of pointing fingers and speaking critically, I stand up and applaud Paula Deen for setting a new positive example for the 26 million Americans already diagnosed with diabetes and the other 79 million who have some form of prediabetes. They, like Paula, face the choice and the challenges of accepting to live with diabetes every day, to control the disease and control their lives. Paula believes that if she has been able to make some small, consistent lifestyle changes (she calls them “baby steps”) then anybody can. Can you just hear her saying, “I know you can do it, y’all!”
Brava, Paula Deen!