Monday, January 23, 2012

Paula Deen

In the last week I've been taking a lot of flack for something I never foresaw.  ( mind you I'm used to taking flack for just about everything in life - normally it doesn't bother me - but it is irritating me right now) I've found myself defending Paula Deen.  I'm not defending her recipes mind you- or saying you should be able to eat solely or even mostly out of her cookbooks and live forever.  I have been defending Paul Deen the person.  I also am irritated that I am also defending the point of she is getting judged more harshly because she is female.

Apparently 3 years ago, Paula was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  There are a lot of American's with type 2 diabetes - and a large percentage who are undiagnosed (if you aren't diagnosed - you can't manage it - and will have more health consequences)  What you eat is a part of the risk factors.  Age (can't help that - except you know - by dying)  genetics (don't pick your parents)  stress (the American way of life leads to high stress levels - and I am sure she has plenty) weight (just guessing visually she appears like she could lose a few pounds) and exercise level ( I really don't know her activity levels)  Now granted food and weight are closely tied -but not the sole risk factors.  She didn't tell anyone. Lots of people seem to have an issue with her not announcing it.

I don't think a person, even a celebrity like Paula Deen has a responsibility to announce her health issues to the world.  I am guessing as she is in her late 60's (and seriously a lot more vibrant than a lot of people her age I meet) she has gone through menopause as well.  Did she need to announce that??  If she develops a bunion from being on her feet in restaurant kitchens all day - does she need to put up a warning so other people don't get one?  Does she need to tell us if she gets an ingrown toenail fixed?  It's her health and she has a right to privacy about it.  I might feel differently if it were Dr Oz or Denise Austin, or the Tae-Bo dude, or Dr Atkins.  These are people who have achieved celebrity status BECAUSE  the general public looks to them for health advise.

Paula is a cook.  I don't think she ever went to a culinary institute.  I think she learned to cook from her mom & grandma and has a lot of talent on her own, and has used those skills to build a very successful restaurant business.  She used her personality and her ability to teach people how to cook to create quite the brand of herself.  Does she tell us, we should be picking up 8 pounds of butter every week when we shop?  NO.  Does she tell us the only way to eat meat is cooked in butter slathered in gravy?? NO. As a matter of fact - I had been noticing that in her more recently taped shows she makes a point of saying she does not eat like that on a daily basis.  She also has been taking to stressing that moderation is the key.    When her son Bobby comes on her show - he cooks his own take - which tends toward a lighter dish. He's done this enough that now he's getting his own show - of Not My Mother's food or dishes I don't recall. (and am too lazy to open a Google tab - you can look it up if you want.)

Paula entertains us.  Most of the time when I watch her show it's just better than the crap that's on regular tv.  I don't run in the kitchen after the show ends to make those dishes for dinner!  I might make one of Paula's recipes maybe 2 or 3 times a year.  As comfort food, or as "company" food.   Seriously - the only contribution her show has to my overall fatness - is that I tend to watch it as I am on the computer or knitting - both sedentary activities.  But I could be watching the boston marathon - and if I'm on my ass on the couch - it's not making me any healthier.

Now - the "BIG" brewhaha - that she has announced it (and that seems to be because a morning show host came out and asked her - because the tabloids had run the story) is that she is going to be working with Novo Nordisk  as a spokesperson or something with one of their diabetes medications. ( on a side note - I pass by their Princeton location when I come back home from Philly - and wondered what they were.  They looked medical. Apparently they use recombitant dna technology for diabetes drugs & insulin) ) People are calling her a hypocrite becuase she has a butter based cooking show and is  taking pills to manage her diabetes. 

Seriously?? Make up your mind - is she wrong for not speaking out and encouraging awareness - or is she wrong for being a spokesperson?  It's because she is a spokesperson for big pharma - that the outcry comes up.  As a planet and especially as a country we are getting fatter everyday.  (Ok maaybe not so much January with all the resolutions)  If Paula Deen pulled or changed her show - would the trend go the other way??  I really, really doubt it. We live in a world, where Lipitor, sleep aids, and erectile dysfunction commercials work there way into just about all the shows except Sesame St!  The problem is with us as a society.  Nobody wants to put forth a ton of effort - they want an easy "pill" to solve their problems.  I mean - do we really believe that everyone taking e.d. pills really need them??  Or is it the older middle aged men who have the fantasies (or realities) of banging the hot 20 year old who really should just go out and buy a sports car to deal with their crisis?  Have you listened to some of the side effects for pills to solve problems that are not nearly as bad??  (The truly sad thing this says about our society is we are willing to throw time, talent and money at some old guy's junk - but we still have cancer, and MERSA and measles and polio might be comng back)

So - first - we don't know if/what lifestyle changes Paula has/is/will be making  - and it's not our business.  Second- when people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure are sedentary and overweight and have bad diets - we don't say lose weight, stop the salt and fat, get some exercise and if that doesn't work we'll give you some pills - no we give you the pills - so you don't have a heart attack or stroke or something while you are trying to make lifestyle changes.  and if lifestyle changes works - we'll take you off or reduce the pills.   I don't pretend to know - but I will be willing to bet that a lot of high profile business execs and politicians have high blood pressure.  And a lot of them are fat& sedentary not to mention stressed.  Do we condemn them because they don't come out  and announce it?  And that they take their meds to try to control it instead of diet?

And here's my other gripe - that this whole thing is making me sound like a femanist ( I can't even spell that)

Can someone tell me Guy Fieri's blood pressure, sugar or cholesterol numbers??  He's  a lot younger than Paula - he can't blame age.  Can someone tell me what those numbers are for the Man vs Food (Adam somebody) How about Ina's husband jeffrey??  Mario Batali is a pretty big boy.

Why isn't there a public outcry about Diner's Drive Ins and Dives??  Some of those dishes have got to be 2 or 3 THOUSAND calories.  ANd there are people who eat at these places daily for real!  Why aren't we beating up Guy for taking us to these places??  Why aren't we pissed of at Adam for eating an 8 pound burrito??  Why isn't there a public outcry to take the extreme dessert shows off the air??

Paula is a woman.  Paula makes people think of mom or grandma or great aunt Sue.  Paula is no more responsible for your health than they are.  Paula doesn't "owe" her audience her health records any more than they do.  Paula is less of a puppet for Big Pharma than all the male celebs endorsing "male enhancement drugs" .  She can lose weight, she can exercise, she can never eat butter again - and she may still need help with her diabetes.  There are a lot of people out there that can't or won't fix their risk factors - or they did and it didn't help enough.  They should have an option for a pill - if it will keep all the other diabetes health side effects at bay.  Cause I've seen her with some of those male guests - I don't think they'd need that pill.


  1. Thank you so much you put everything I have been feeling into words!!

  2. I agree with you. She is a great person and she never said it like this everyday. In my family we have things that we only eat during holiday's. She has the right to eat what she wants to eat. If she wants to have a cheeseburger once in a while why not. I think a lot of people are upset because she has been able to make a lot of money.


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