Update: Obviously, Deen made it official this morning. Turns out Deen has been diagnosed for 3 years. Wow! After three years, you should be making a lot of progress, though not everyone does. Also, the rumors are true that she is endorsing a diabetes medication. Her Web site is Diabetes in a New Light.
Depending on where and when you read this, Paula Deen may have admitted by now that she has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Deen appeared on the "Today" show to talk to Al Roker. The blogosphere has certainly known about the speculation for some time. The reaction to Paula Deen possibly having Type 2 diabetes was a little more joyful than one would expect.
As much as I follow the food scene, especially the TV food people, I know very little about Paula Deen. I know she loves butter and cooks high-fat Southern dishes on television. But I don't watch her shows and never gave much thought to her, pro or con.
Here's what I do know. Anyone who has suffered from Type 2 diabetes knows they wouldn't wish the disease on their worst enemy. Full disclosure: I know of what I speak, though my numbers have been excellent since then.
Getting the diagnosis throws your world in a rainbow of directions. Being a public figure who deals with food getting the diagnosis? Can't even imagine.
If the speculation is true, Deen has had the diagnosis for at least 9 months, and she reportedly has made changes to her diet. If so, good for her.
That sentiment is not universally shared. Sentiments of "I told you so" and "I knew this would happen to her" flow across the Internet sky.
The sad truth is that Type 2 diabetes does hit people who are thinner than Deen, eat better than Deen, and are younger than Deen. And some people are heavier than her, eat worse than her, and are older than her and don't get Type 2 diabetes.
"Serves her right," is the ardent cry.
In the bizarro world that is the U.S. health care system, if you have a fasting blood sugar of 800, you are "healthy" as long as you are not diagnosed. If your fasting blood sugar is 180 (normal fasting blood sugar is between 70-110) and you are diagnosed, you are branded with a scarlet D for diabetic. At least with the scarlet A, you supposedly had sex.
Since few very people come forward about the diagnosis, having role models would help newcomers to Type 2 diabetes to show them that you can get better, you can improve your life. Whether Paula Deen wants to be one of those role models remains to be seen.
Changing one's life after a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis requires strength, determination, and support. Since Deen isn't getting much help from the modern food community, she can look to the past for a similar scenario.
Graham Kerr was on our TV sets as the Galloping Gourmet who didn't do as much galloping as he should as he suffered a heart attack. The heart attack changed his life and his TV career, coming back years ago with lighter recipes.
Kerr got a lot more sympathy for his heart attack than Deen has for Type 2 diabetes. We think we know heart attacks: family history, diet, stress, hypertension, weight. What do we know about Type 2 diabetes? People eat badly, people don't move around well enough, people get Type 2 diabetes.
Bobby Deen, Paula's son, is hosting a show on Cooking Channel ("Not My Mama's Meals") that foreshadows what may be a new direction for his mother. Changing Southern cooking is an arduous task. I also know from experience: I have a lot of Southern relatives with a history of all the bad stuff.
Having Type 2 diabetes is a stigma, a way to look down at you for your behavior. So what if you eat the way you do because of emotional eating or a reaction to anorexia or mindless eating? Get more exercise, eat less and healthier and you'll be fine.
That advice is true, regardless of whether you have Type 2 diabetes. This is the fastest growing disease over the last decade or so, and our sympathy levels are still near zero. Even children who suffer from the disease are left to wonder if hiding the diagnosis is the better strategy.
Whatever we think about the disease and those who suffer from it, they need to be told that they can do certain things to reduce the impact of the disease. Portion control, be smarter about carbs, lose 10% of your body weight, move, move, and move. They should also take their medication, as needed. Kicking someone when they're down? How about holding out a hand to say, "Hey, we can help."
Paula Deen may not have many friends in the food community with the news that she reportedly has Type 2 diabetes. At BalanceofFood.com, she has a friend in us because she needs help. We don't care how many butter recipes she has served up on TV. She needs help, love, and support. For the moment, her TV career be damned; Deen needs to see the way to get better is out there. Paula Deen needs to find her own Balance of Food.