Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Food Network star Paula Deen having Type 2 diabetes and the fact that she has kept it secret for the last 3 years. Along with her secret she has also revealed that she is now a paid sponsor of the diabetes drug Victoza.  
It goes without saying that Deen’s way of cooking is anything but healthy--for anyone--regardless if they have diabetes or not. However, the thing that stands out to me when I hear these reports can be summed up in one word: DENIAL.  As with any loss in our life there are certain stages of grief that one goes through. And, the way I see it Paula is still in the first few stages of grief. Yes, I said grief. Grief over over the bad news of having type 2 diabetes and a betrayal of sorts by the very thing that made her famous, her Southern cooking. 

Kubler-Ross identify five stages of grief:
  • Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
  • Depression (I don't care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes) 

Food addiction is not unlike any other addiction, where one must come to terms with how it is impacting your life and then make the necessary changes to gain control. It seems to me that Paula just hasn’t done that. She hasn’t processed the real implications of this disease or figured out her future except that she will be taking Victoza. As the old saying goes she’s “between a rock and a hard place.” Even if that hard place includes a hefty endorsement deal. 
Actually, Deen is in a great position to help, inspire, and promote change in regards to the diabetes epidemic in our country. Too bad she hasn’t grasped that fact. Instead her attitude seems to be that because she is taking diabetes medication she can continue to eat the way she has for years. Not a good example Paula!
In an interview with Al Roker on the Today Show, Deen down played the severity of the disease when she commented, There are many other things that can lead to diabetes...Certainly genetics...your lifestyle...what you eat.. stress...and last but not least is age.”  
What?! Age? This so screams denial. Poor Paula! Clearly she doesn’t understand the disease, how to prevent it, and that we do not have to fall prey to it as we grow older
Later, in the same interview, she reports “I’m going to stay true to my Grandmama Paula’s way of cooking, as Southern cooking is part of my heritage. And the recipes I cook on my show are part of my Southern heritage.”
There you have it. Denial stage and bargaining stage at the same time! Just today, I saw the following statement posted on Facebook from the Forks Over Knives Executive Producer: “We request that Paula Deen...carefully consider the evidence that a whole-food, plant-based diet can oftentimes reverse type-2 diabetes.  A person suffering from this disease can usually become free of or significantly reduce the need for diabetes medications. We hope Paula will follow this course, become healthier and use her unique position to educate thousands of people on the power of food as medicine.”–-fok-executive-producer-releases-statement/
I wish the best for Paula Deen, but more than anything I hope she will come to terms with the severity of this disease and start making plant-based choices to reverse it. I hope she will use her influence and popularity to become an advocate of whole foods vs the latest diabetes drug. 

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