Celebrity chef Paula Deen is certainly stirring things up right now and diabetics all over the country are angry and calling her a hypocrite. In a battle that’s heating up to kitchen stadium proportions, Deen suggests that Bourdain should “Get a life,” after he called her the most dangerous person in America. Bourdain, “No Reservations” star, was equally scathing to her fellow Food Network chefs Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri and Sandra Lee. It appears the knives are drawn!
What seems to have everyone bashing the Southern “Buttuh Queen” is she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, three years ago, even as she continued to promote such dishes as “Chocolate Cheese Fudge” and “Sausage Pancake Egg Sandwiches” on her program. And, she went public with her condition while at the same time announcing her latest venture—a partnership with diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk.
But surely people do not think they can eat the kind of foods Paula cooks on a regular basis and not suffer some dire health crisis—or do they?
There is certainly no lack of information on diabetes and how diet plays an integral role in bringing about the disease. There is a healthy recipe popping into my inbox every day, and yes, I might want to have an egg, bacon and cheese roll much more than I want a bowl of berries, but come on, I’m an adult I have to make responsible food choices.
So, is Paula Deen, and her celebrity chef friends at the Food Network, to blame, or do we just want to shift our responsibility to someone else?
While I think chefs like Paula should come with a government health warning, at the end of the day, we are the ones that are putting the food in our mouths. We have come to think that we can eat and drink what we want and not pay the consequences. Have you seen people at the Las Vegas casino buffets? Their plates piled high, stuffing food into their mouths and going back for more. I mean really, not all of them have emotional eating disorders, many of them just have no self-control.
My grandmother, God bless her, would always feed me if I was a little down or disappointed and when I was growing up, fats and sugar were high on the menu. However, so were fresh fruits and vegetables. Soda was never a part of our lives and snacks, potato chips and candies were a treat and not a daily one either. We did not have a car until I was in my teens, so I either walked or rode my bike. I played outside until it got dark and it was time to go to bed. We ate a lot, but we were far more active than most kid’s today. I have had to watch my weight all my life. I was a fat kid, I did not inherit my mother’s slender frame, but took after my father’s side of the family, the big-boned heavy side! My mother knew nothing about nutrition, she tried to put me on a diet when I was around eleven, but didn’t have the heart to deprive me of my favorite foods.
But, I was determined to be thinner and worked hard to eat right and exercise even though my younger brother was eating nothing but fries, chocolate and peas—his staple diet. He was such a skinny little thing, I really did hate him for a while, well about twelve years actually! In a way I think I was lucky, I have always known that if I eat a lot of the wrong things I will put on weight—pretty simple really. Back then I did not connect weight and health, but, I did know I felt better when I weighed less—not exactly brain surgery!
I love to cook—not always healthy—and I love to eat, but I know my limitations. If I choose to have a 1000 calorie cupcake, I know what will happen, so I choose not to. The kind of food Paula cooks is not my thing, but I have my own favorite foods that I will indulge in from time to time. The difference is they are an indulgence, not an everyday food choice.
I do understand that many people feel let down by the way Paula handled this, but I do not feel she is responsible for other people’s bad eating habits.
According to Food, Inc, “Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits formed during youth frequently continue into adulthood. As a society, we’ve dramatically altered the way we live, eat, work and play—creating an environment that fuels obesity.”
Paula may have added fuel the flames, but she didn’t start the fire!
She has, however, got a lot of people talking and what is getting everyone so fired up is that Deen appears to be advocating that it’s OK to eat really unhealthy foods, then simply pop a pill to make the symptoms disappear. The Deen-endorsed drug has a slew of side effects and like most pharmaceuticals prescribed for diabetics, the drug treats the symptoms not the disease. Deen has a real opportunity to use her celebrity status to advocate a real change in the eating habits of America. I hope she does.
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