"I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward."
After three years of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Paula Deen wants to bring something to the table. Still waiting …
Paula Deen was on Jay Leno recently and made a cheeseburger meatloaf (not to be confused with her bacon cheeseburger meatloaf). The other guest was Jonah Hill (nominated this morning for an Oscar), who just lost a bunch of weight. When Deen offered Hill some of the cheeseburger meatloaf, he recoiled and wasn't about to try any of it.
Hill had the look of someone who understood what was going on. Deen doesn't quite get it.
Paula Deen is proving to us that food is a powerful drug.
Television is a powerful drug, too. We tend to think that because Paula Deen is on television, she has all the right answers. She doesn't.
We did say last week that she shouldn't be met with scorn. Paula Deen has proven to be all too human, and even though she has had three years to deal with the diagnosis, she struggles to make significant changes. In that way, she is like a lot of us.
Her new Web site has information and recipes designed to get you to rethink the food process. If you offer that Deen wasn't a role model during his cooking show TV career, she won't be a role model now.
A defeatist attitude to being on meds. Slight changes to diet and a little more exercise. All of this after 3 years with the disease. Deen has brought so little to the table that a paper napkin folded in half could cover it all.
The first recipe on her site is an adapted lasagna dish. Better than cheeseburger meatloaf, but not by much.
Kudos to using no-salt versions of tomatoes and nice to mention whole wheat noodles for the lasgana. The alternative is "reduced-carbohydrate lasgana noodles," which isn't that big of a step.
On the flip side, the recipe has 7 different kinds of cheese, though 5 of the 7 call for fat-free or low-fat versions (parmesan is naturally low in fat and Gruyere is the other one). The cheese content is 6 cups and 3 tablespoons. And we have a ¼ teaspoon of Paula Deen's Seasoned Salt and a 1⁄3 teaspoon of salt in the ½ teaspoon of Paula Deen's House Seasoning. In just the seasoning, we have 1,342 mg of sodium; this doesn't count the salt in the cheese.
If this is what Paula Deen is bringing to the table, we'll have what Jonah Hill isn't having.
"I'm here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence," Deen said in her initial announcement. Type 2 diabetes is not a death sentence. If left untreated or undertreated, the disease can lead to a miserable life and eventually death. However, a big giant however, people with the disease can turn themselves around, eat well, and do better with the disease.
Small changes are a start. Deen recognized that Southern sweet tea was an issue, and cut back. A small change. One idea that Paula Deen should consider is not just adapting what she has done in the past.
On her son's "Not My Mama's Meals" show, Bobby Deen is talking to his mother to get her take on his modifications to her dishes. He baked a small apple pie instead of deep-frying it and used whole wheat flour. Paula Deen said it was good, but noted it would go perfectly with sugar-free ice cream.
I cringed as I heard her say the words "sugar-free ice cream." The calorie-reduction in sugar-free ice creams isn't that much, and the impact of sugar alcohols have its own price. A smaller portion of the real thing is a better option for most people, and tastes better, too.
You can have the apple pie with a small amount of ice cream. You can try to have the apple pie without the ice cream. Yes, just apple pie. Or if you want a cool treat, try sorbet.
The truth is when you get shocking health news, your instinct is to panic or think you can't do anything. We're human; these things happen. After a while, you learn that you can make adjustments to better find your balance of food.
Even after three years, Paula Deen is struggling to find her balance of food, and she may never find it. In that sense, Deen is a role model, as many others have similar struggles. The difference is that they aren't on TV and they don't have the pressure of being a role model.