Why Paula Deen Makes Me Sick

Remember the kind things I used to say about Paula Deen? Yeah, I’m taking them back.

If you’re not aware, Paula Deen, the Food Network celebre-cook of the high cholesterol, calorie laden recipes, has found out she has Type II diabetes.

Let me be clear – this isn’t the part that makes me upset, or wants to call her out. All of us, every single person who lives a life upon this planet, make choices in each of our individual lives, and make decisions that affect our long term health. We get older. Our bodies break down. We live with the results of choices made years ago. This includes the people who are fans of Ms. Deen. They watched her show, they made their choices to eat Deep Fried Lasagna, Deep Fried Stuffing on a Stick, and the classic Lady’s Brunch Burger, the sandwich consisting of eggs, bacon, and hamburger placed between two slices of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. That Paula Deen likely came to have diabetes through her diet is ironic, tragic, and no different than the health problems we all deal with as we get older. When I first heard she had diabetes, I was willing to leave it alone.

However, the news came out recently that her diagnosis occurred three years ago, and that she waited(!) to tell the rest of the world until she was able to leverage her disease into a sponsorship from Novo Nordisk that includes a promotional campaign that has its own website, and recipes that heavily promote Deen’s own product line.

That, my friends, is unconscionable.

Wanting to help those with diabetes is a laudable action.

Profiting from your own diabetes, as well as the diabetes of others is sickening.

To profit by offering advice where the primary solution is to “take medicine”, but “lose weight” and “get more exercise” appears secondary, is appalling*.

Profiting off of the diabetes of others that she may have had a hand in help creating? I don’t believe that an adjective yet exists that can adequately describe such a whorish money grab.

There is a line somewhere out there. We who work in Food Media know we are, at heart, entertainers and lifestyle coaches. Informing people of the risks surrounding food? Well, there’s even less money in that than there is in food writing. But in our roles in food media, there’s a line. I don’t know where it is exactly. But I do know that Paula Deen not only crossed it, she purchased a house over there, probably selling her soul for the down payment.

* Note: The Mayo Clinic’s recommendation for Type II Diabetes Management is as follows:

  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy

In other words, medication is not the primary response to Type II diabetes. Yet here’s Paula Deen, partnering up with a pharmaceutical that comes with its own FDA safety warning. That woman makes me sick, sick, sick.