In the news…sugar and spice

Oh dear…Paula Deen, diagnosed with Diabetes three years ago and just now getting us caught up with her sweet self.

I’m not a fan of Paula Deen but then again I’m also not a detractor. I don’t hate Paula Deen, although I will admit that seeing her wide, semi-manical smile seated next to a beautiful albeit sinful dessert every single time I’m in the grocery store line makes me cringe. It just annoys me. I’m a little cranky that way.

I love sweets. I love southern cooking. I love to eat. The truth is that I feel like crap when I eat too much of that sort of food and so I try to reserve the really GOOD stuff (read: Wuthering Heights foods) to the occasional treat. I do this because when we make those foods our “staple” foods then not only is it hard on our bodies but it’s hard on our psyches too. What’s “special” if I eat like that every day, right?

But this isn’t about southern food or tasty desserts.  It’s about Paula Deen. Like most things I can see the different sides of this. I have friends who have gotten this sort of diagnosis. It turns your life upside down. It forces you to think differently, act differently, understand your motivations differently. It causes you to question your past and worry about your future perhaps a little more than you might have before. It’s a serious diagnosis that has long reaching implications.

Some fast stats on diabetes (thanks to NDIC):

  • Among U.S. residents ages 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9 percent, had diabetes in 2010.
  • About 215,000 people younger than 20 years had diabetes—type 1 or type 2—in the United States in 2010.
  • About 1.9 million people ages 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 in the United States.
  • In 2005–2008, based on fasting glucose or hemoglobin A1C (A1C) levels, 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 20 years or older had pre-diabetes—50 percent of adults ages 65 years or older. Applying this percentage to the entire U.S. population in 2010 yields an estimated 79 million American adults ages 20 years or older with pre-diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Now, if a person makes her living cooking sweet treats and getting us to buy her cookbooks, cookware, magazines, what have you, then a diagnosis of this kind would take on a new dimension. I cannot imagine the panic that comes with getting this news. It threatens your life AND your livelihood. I can understand on some level why Paula Deen needed some time to process all of this. If was any of us normal folk we could do that easily, privately, but as a celebrity who makes her living posing with cupcakes? Not so much.

Yet, as I read about the fallout of this announcement I see an awful lot of people complaining about the deceit, about the lack of integrity, the irony of her 6 word memoir composed after her diagnosis and appearing in Oprah’s book-

“Might as well eat the cookie.”

I don’t know if it was deceitful for Paula to keep working and promoting unhealthy eating after her diagnosis. It’s not as if she was promoting health and wellness before that. In reality, the harm she’s really done in all this is to her own body. In some ways, for this last three years Paula has been more in integrity with her self. She’s continued to be the person she always has been. The bigger issue now is how she will approach the future and the person she will HAVE to become in order to stay alive and well. I hope that she keeps her focus. I hope she finds ways to enjoy food JUST as much as she has in the past while still remembering that all of this media is just dust in the wind when all is said and done. What really matters is the quality of the life she lives with the family she loves. Godspeed, Paula Deen, I wish you well.


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