The only surprising thing about celebrity chef Paula Deen's announcement on the "Today" show this week that has diabetes is that she didn't do it with a fried stick of butter hanging out of her mouth.
But she might as well have.
For more than a decade, Deen has been touting “down home" Southern-style recipes on her various Food Network shows, at her restaurants, and in her cookbooks. Nearly every dish is replete with lard, sugar, bacon, heavy cream, salt, ground beef, or some disgusting combination thereof.
Barbara Walters has accused her of telling kids it's okay to have cheesecake for breakfast, and meatloaf and chocolate cake for lunch. Deen claims she's not telling kids to eat like that every day. She is the enemy of healthy cooking, and with a bully pulpit to boot.
My problem with Deen preceded her Type 2 diabetes, a condition that afflicts millions of people in this country, and can usually be prevented and treated by way of diet and exercise. In her very public role as a "celebrity chef," Deen has pushed harmful food on this country with energy and zeal.
Her lack of responsibility has been so glaring that it shocks me little that she waited until striking a sleazy deal with the drug company Novo Nordisk to disclose her three-year old diabetes diagnosis.
What's more, Deen claims she's always preached "moderation," -- as if Americans have a long history of self-control.
Deen embodies this country's glaring gluttony, and rather than reverse her diet and her message, she has said only that she now walks on the treadmill and has given up drinking sweet tea. Bravo, Paula.
I don’t mean to imply that when you become a television personality with your own cooking show you also sign up to be an ambassador of healthy living. But Paula Deen’s cooking style has been so over-the-top unhealthy that she might as well have stuffed a lit cigarette into people’s mouths, too.
Regardless of whatever money she is making from Novo Nordisk, regardless of what percentage of that money she keeps or gives away, Deen has knowingly advocated that an already obese populace eat the exact foods that have made her and countless others sick with diabetes and other serious ailments. There are no excuses for this kind of behavior, but she’s making them anyway.
Paula Deen has enjoyed the kind of international renown and financial success most people can only dream about. Being diagnosed with diabetes, or any other chronic disease, is doubtless scary; but it can also be a call-to-action, a time for soul-searching and self-improvement. That Deen went in the opposite direction and only confessed her diagnosis after striking a lucrative drug deal speaks volumes about her character.
Let Deen serve not as a spokesperson, but as a cautionary tale.
She contracted type 2 diabetes after years of eating and cooking the unhealthiest of foods, and becoming overweight as a result. Almost anybody with this condition or on the borderline can lower their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise.
Paula Deen’s diabetes might be making news this week, but now she has to live with this disease and learn how to manage it for the rest of her life.
Deirdre Imus, founder of dienviro.org, a website devoted to environmental heal. She is president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™ at Hackensack University Medical Center and co-founder/Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel. 'Like' her on Facebook here.