I admit, I am not a fan of Paula Deen's style of butter-laden down-home cooking. I have always watched her show from the safety of the high horse of the treadmill, getting a perverse motivation out of watching her take too-big bites of heart-stopping culinary messes to run harder, faster, longer. I am most definitely not her target audience. Yet, even from that comfortable distance, I noticed a change in her.
In December, her program featured clips from previous shows to showcase her favorite holiday recipes. And the differences over the years was remarkable. Just a few years ago, she was a pleasantly plump Southern matron with a sparkle in her eye. As each season's recipe was aired, I watched as she got progressively bigger. But I also noticed heavier makeup as the ruddiness in her cheeks diminished, and that twinkle in her eye dimming. So, I was not surprised by her announcement that she has Type 2 diabetes.
I am surprised by her decision to medicate and to not alter her trademark lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes is directly related to lifestyle and can very often be treated (and eliminated) through some basic lifestyle changes. She has built a reputation and a following on dietary excess, and there's probably a percentage of her fanbase that finds themselves in her same condition. This places her in a prime position to perform a much-needed public service.
Paula Deen is unarguably a kitchen diva. Whether you cringe at her food like I do, or swear by her recipes, she is engaging and entertaining. And trusted. I believe she has something unique to offer in the growing arena of down-home cooking with a healthy make-over. Watching her restore her health through updating her favorite recipes for our obesity-prone era would make for interesting viewing, too.
But, she has chosen to partner with Novo Nordisk and has become a spokesperson for their diabetes medication. Granted, these medications are a godsend for many who are unable to reduce their weight and reverse the damage that has already been done. And maybe Paula Deen falls into this camp. Maybe it will take a decade of lifestyle changes for her to get healthy. Even so, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
Diabetes can have some debilitating consequences. My thoughts and prayers are with Paula Deen, her family, and her staff as she starts down the long road of healing. I'll be tuning in to her show - probably a little more often - to see how she's doing. Hopefully she will address her lifestyle. Both her and her fans would benefit.