- Paula Deen, US Southern-style cook and cooking show host, has Type 2 diabetes.
- Paula Deen hasn’t exactly shared that information with the public. And she can’t eat her own meals anymore.
- She is going to make millions as a spokesperson for a diabetes medication, probably for drugmaker
Novartis.Novo Nordisk, according to the LATimes.
Here’s the thing that kills me: Paula Deen’s cooking has always seemed, to me anyway, to be a lesson in how to give yourself diabetes! Or coronary disease. Or other obesity-related illnesses, like colon cancer.
So she wins by teaching us to eat irresponsibly, and profits from it through her cookbooks and restaurant and Food Network show. Now she’s going to profit by telling us to take a pill that treats the resulting illness. Win-win for Paula. And frankly, a smart move on Novartis’ part too. Because most people aren’t going to care. They think she’s nice. They’re fans. She makes food they enjoy eating. And the poor woman was unfortunate enough to get diabetes, which really nobody can blame her for. It’s an illness.
Paula Deen has long been criticized for irresponsibility when it comes to food. Here are a few examples:
- Barbara Walters Says Paula Deen Makes Kids Fat — from The View, Sept 2009
- How Can Paula Deen Sleep at Night? — Huffington Post, April 2010
- Anthony Bourdain said of her in TV Guide this summer, “The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.”
Normally, I wouldn’t criticize the woman so much myself. Maybe she’s just ignorant about healthy diets and the implications of unhealthy ones. But she responded to Mr. Bourdain’s criticism last year by saying,
“You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills … It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to feed my family, too.”
I’m calling bullshit here. I grew up in the South, and I know how fond they are of their diets. Fried mac and cheese, fried green beans, fried donuts, fried Twinkies, chicken fried steak, etc. At no time have I ever thought that I couldn’t eat healthy because I couldn’t afford a $58 prime rib or a $650 bottle of wine. This is a false argument, and she’s catering to those Southerners who don’t like the prissy, elitist, crunchy granola vegan intellectuals who criticize the Southern diet.
Ever heard of quinoa? Or cous cous and grilled asparagus? Black beans and brown rice with a little sour cream & salsa? Or fish? There are some fantastic ways to make fish yummy. Here are some of my favorite healthy recipes:
- Quinoa Risotto with Arugula and Parmesan, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic (we skip the arugula and add extra mushrooms. NOM)
- Parchment Paper Salmon, courtesy of Whole Foods. The parchment paper technique really makes it hard not to serve the perfectly cooked filet.
- Broccoli and Brown Rice Skillet Dinner, from Cooks.com
- Tomato Stuffed Peppers, from Food Network. (Yeah, we like to melt a little guyere cheese to the top. But just a tad.)
- Black Beans and Rice, from AllRecipes.com
- Healthy Chicken Fajitas, from Epicurious
I’ll stop here. You get the point. Most of these meals can feed four folks for $20 or less.
I’m not saying you should never ever ever eat a pepperoni pizzza or a bacon cheeseburger. I love both of those things, and had pizza just last night. But I can minimize their negative health impacts by choosing slightly healthier options (grass feed beef, or less cheese, or turkey burger etc). Or, you can go ahead and eat that really terrible-for-you comfort food… but rarely, instead of regularly.
It’s not that hard to eat better. Last year, I started making a few substitutions, stopped eating out as much, limited table salt, and added fresh fruits and veggies as sides or “dessert” to most meals. That, and a little time at the gym, and I’m 35 pounds lighter. My cholesterol is finally good. I’m no longer “obese” and I’m about to fall out of the “overweight” category too. My blood sugar and metabolism and blood pressure are “optimal”… and I feel great.
I hope Paula Deen can, too.
And I hope all of us can begin to support a new health care paradigm, one that focuses on creating wellness rather than treating disease. But that’s another blog post for another time.