To Paula Deen

Hey Paula!

It’s true I’ve never watched any of your shows or tried any of your recipes, but I saw your picture on a magazine cover or two at the supermarket. Now that you’ve announced that you have type-2 diabetes, I feel like we’re definitely on a first-name basis.

Type-1, type-2, LADA, gestational—no matter the kind, diabetes sucks. I’m sad to hear that you joined our club. It’s a bummer, but there’s a really big supportive group of people online and in real life who are here for you.

I know there’s a brouhaha brewing about the how/why/when of your announcement, but I frankly don’t care. . . .

Except I will say this: You owe us.

You have a high profile because of your pre-diabetes life. And you have partnered with Novo Nordisk to promote pharmaceuticals, putting you squarely in the diabetes community. You best be using your influence to help people with diabetes. Here are some ways:

  • Promote understanding of the differences between type-2 (which you have) and type-1 (which I have), since so many people in the US think there’s just one kind.
  • Encourage healthy lifestyle choices for everyone, whether touched by diabetes or not. T-2 is more than diet and exercise, but we have to be honest about their role. There’s no guarantee one way or the other, but every little thing we do (within reason) makes a difference.
  • Help people with diabetes in your audience understand that they are more than their disease, that there will be better days and worse days, and that they can do this.
  • Work with CDEs (at Novo and elsewhere) to develop a message of empowerment that people with diabetes can use to improve their own self-management as they make choices and work with their family and healthcare providers.
  • Stress that there’s more to diabetes than Novo’s drug-of-the-day. Be holistic.

Remember that a bunch of people are watching you. The diabetes online community is watching, too. We’re nice people, but we look out for our own. Based on what I’ve seen in the past, we will cut you like a piece of pecan pie if we think you’re using diabetes for your own benefit and aren’t giving back.

Diabetically yours!

This entry was posted in Diabetes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To Paula Deen

  1. mary says:

    i was wondering when you were gonna comment on this. i’ve seen her show a few times, and, as someone who knows very little about T-2 diabetes, her announcement came as no surprise! i truly do hope that she uses her name and fame to do all of the things you’ve noted up there, but also hope you’re not getting your hopes up…

    do most americans really think that there’s only one kind of diabetes?

  2. Jeff Mather says:

    I’ve never seen her show, eaten at her restaurants, or made any of her recipes, but the impression that I get is that her food is not very healthy . . . for anyone. Of course, I like to eat some unhealthy foods, and I’m suspicious of people who claim not to eat any themselves. Whichever side you come down on, though, having diabetes involves trade-offs and managing risks and indulging carefully and/or accepting consequences. (This is why I’m kind of worried that her stated approach to diabetes management is one of moderating the quantity of the same high-fat, high-carb recipes—presumably along with taking Victoza—rather than choosing different foods or a more comprehensive lifestyle message.)

    I’m not going to draw any links between her cooking (and presumably her eating) and her diabetes. T-2 is much more involved than that. (And yes, I do think that many Americans—T-2s among them—think that T-1 and T-2 are basically the same disease.)

    Nor am I going to suggest what she should eat. It’s not my place to judge. On the other hand, her professional/celebrity role entirely revolves around presenting food choices and how to prepare them. Based on what she said in her “NBC Today” interview I agree that it doesn’t seem likely that she’s going to advocate much for healthier options. That’s too bad. But it’s too early to say whether announcing that she has diabetes—three years after he diagnosis—is a cynical ploy to expand her brand and bank account or the start of something more constructive and community-oriented.

    I have my hopes, but I’m not holding my breath. And while I feel for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, she’s on notice.

  3. victoria says:

    For one… fantastic post. But more importantly, “brouhaha” is my favorite word of all time!!! Seriously, it is! I learned it in high school vocab, and I’ve loved it ever since. Good job! I knew we were kindred spirits. LOL.

  4. Amy says:

    I don’t know why you feel a burger whose buns are made of donuts would be reason for concern.

    The other day, I met a type 1 who was on top of the world. He had lost 60 pounds, shrunk his ratios tremendously, and felt great. He looked at my son–8 years old, also type 1–and said, “You need to know something. All these choices you have to make, these sacrifices–they’re what everyone should be doing anyway. We should all be eating healthy.” Something about this guy, his exuberance, even the fact that he’s had to have eye surgery, has stuck with me. Everyone should be watching those carbs and trying not to spike their sugars, just as diabetics do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>