By now, the world has heard that Paula Deen, the queen of southern comfort food, has Type 2 Diabetes. The media has been swirling with suggestions that she brought this on herself with all of her high-fat, high-caloric cooking, not to mention assertions that she’s responsible for bringing diabetes to others with her unhealthy cookbooks and recipes. In defense of Paula Deen: I think that’s all a bunch of rubbish. She didn’t give herself (or anyone else) diabetes.
Firstly, there’s no hard proof that her diet directly caused her Diabetes. As she stated on the Today show this morning, there are many factors that go into this disease including genetics (a major factor according to some experts), lifestyle, stress and age.
Linda Siminerio, director of the Diabetes Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says food isn’t the real culprit in Diabetes. She told MSNBC:
To my knowledge no particular food has been linked to an increase in the risk of diabetes. Itâ€™s being overweight and inactive.
And Today show contributor, Dr. Roshini Raj stated that being overweight is probably the “most defined risk factor” for Diabetes, although she does believe that diet and a lack of exercise can also increase those risks.
What’s more, it’s unfair to lay blame by saying “you are what you eat” when, outside of her shows, we don’t know enough about her lifestyle and nutrition to criticize her for it.
So, could Paula’s high-fat, high-cholesterol diet have contributed? We just don’t know, to be honest.
If you ask her, she doesn’t eat like this every day:
I’ve always eaten in moderation. You know, people see me TV two and three times a day and they see me cooking all these wonderfully southern fattening dishes–that’s only 30 days out of 365, and it’s for entertainment.
And entertaining she is. I’ve watched Paula Deen for years simply because I like her. I find her personality–and her syrupy accent–fun and entertaining. But I’ve never made any of her recipes, because I don’t eat like that.
Which brings me to the point of personal responsibility. Yes, Deen is in the public eye and has the capacity to influence what Americans cook and eat, but at the end of the day, it’s not her who’s serving dinner; it’s you. Pointing fingers at Deen–or any other celebrity cook–and blaming them for our nation’s obesity and diabetic epidemic is not only unfair; it’s not going to solve the problem, ultimately. We all choose what we cook and what we put in our mouths. And even if Paula does tempt you with her mouth-watering fried chicken and grits, it doesn’t have to be your everyday food.
Paula said it best on the Today Show this morning:
I have always encouraged moderation. On my show, I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people, in moderation, in moderation you can have that little piece of pie.
People have to be responsible. Like I told Oprah, ‘Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.’ You have to be responsible for yourself.
Agreed. Personally, I wish Paula the best in her battle with diabetes.