I've always enjoyed watching Paula Deen on various food shows and talk shows. She is delightfully funny, full of Southern charm and I love her beautiful white hair. However, I've never been a big fan of her incredibly fat and sugar laden dishes. They always seemed like too much - too rich, too fattening, too heavy. I think the most outrageous thing I've ever seen her make was a bread pudding made from glazed Krispy Kreme donuts, drizzled with a sugary butter sauce. Just watching her prepare the dessert made my blood sugar spike.
So the news that the Southern cooking goddess has Type 2 diabetes shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, judging from the types of foods she's been promoting for years. Let's face it, years of serving up and eating recipes laden with butter, sugar and cream most likely were strong contributors to the condition she hid for three years.
About 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They estimates another 79 million Americans over age 20 have pre-diabetes, or elevated glucose levels.
And while it's true that there are many contributing factors like stress, genetics, age and other lifestyle conditions, watching what one eats clearly is the easiest aspect to control. I would hope that Paula Deen would use her celebrity and television forum to encourage others to develop healthier eating habits, perhaps even show how to modify her signature dishes into something more diabetic-friendly. I'd love to see her stand up in that way, to take a leading role in creating healthier lifestyles through nutritious and lower fat and lower carbohydrate foods.
I don't know for a fact, but I would guess that her doctor has her on a diet that doesn't include many of the foods she's been preparing on television. I find that a little hypocritical. Deen told one interviewer that she's "the cook and I'm not your doctor." It's hard to make the right food choices when we are constantly bombarded with fast food commercials and increasingly sedentary lifestyles spent in front of computer and TV screens, smart phones and electronic tablets. Have you ever been to a restaurant and watched a family surfing on their phones, not talking or interacting. I'm guilty of that and I know many others who are too. Given that scenario, it's entirely too easy to eat without realizing what's going into your mouth.
Deen said that she's always preached moderation on her TV show. That may be true, but with the exploding obesity and diabetes rates in the United States, obviously moderation is not fully understood by those of us who need it the most.
So, come on Paula. Put down that butter stick. Now that we all know about your health struggles, be a role model and help set your fans and viewers on a healthy eating path.