Saturday, March 3, 2012

Missing the Point (with Paula Deen and Diabetes)

I found a Time magazine opened to an article about Paula Deen in the bathroom today. I know the story of Paula's announcement about having Type 2 Diabetes has been all over the media since January, but after many frustrating searches, I feel like most of the media voices have missed the point. Or they're afraid to have an opinion about it.

I can completely understand Paula keeping information about her personal health private until she felt ready to bring it into the public eye. She deserves her privacy and personal life, as we all do. What bothers me, though, is that her very personal announcement was made simultaneously another about her new partnership as the spokesperson for diabetes drug-maker Novo Nordisk. Yes, I understand that it's another way to make money off of what life has handed her (and yes, she has also said she is donating an undisclosed portion of that profit to the American Diabetes Association) BUT is making another million on top of her millions more valuable than using her fame to really help spread the word about the true causes and roots of our diabetes epidemic?

"I will have a broader platform now, trying to do something for everybody," she said. "But you know, I'm Southern by roots. I was taught (to cook) by my grandmother and nothing I can do would change that."

I'm not asking you to change or stop loving and honoring your roots, Paula, only to examine whether the way we've been taught is the best way to live full, healthy and happy lives!

My work is centered on helping women who are struggling with sugar and our unhealthy food norms and ways to find an alternative way of eating and living that will make them feel energized, sexy and full-of-potential rather than out-of-control, confused, exhausted and dissatisfied.

It's hard for me to respect a response that embodies the American industrial way of making money off of both creating and then treating a disease. I realize she probably had no idea she was helping to fuel a food culture of disease, but upon being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes herself, I would have hoped she'd take the opportunity to learn (and then share what she'd learned) from her life journey, her grandmother, her own cooking and eating experiences and history.

Instead, she (and we) are continuing to ignore what is at the root of the problem of the obesity and diabetes epidemic which is dawning on us: our unbalanced way of eating and increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

The story of Paula Deen makes me sad, but it also revs me up knowing there is another way to fight diabetes that is cheaper, natural, doesn't involve drugs, and can save us from disease in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Alex,
    As someone who lives with type 1 diabetes and works with people with both type 1 and type 2 as well as pre-diabetes... I could not have said my feelings about Paula Deen as well as you did! I was infuriated over her cavalier attitude towards health and disease and her complete lack of responsibility for the position she holds as a media personality. But I must say it is a rather classic American approach... "hey, why should I change what I can eat when I can just take a pill or a shot and go on with my life!" "Why not support the food ins try as well as the pharmaceutical industry?"

    The drug approach only works to a certain extent... but does NOT work well unless you ALSO change up your diet and address the foods that are causing your high blood sugar and insulin resistance from excess weight.

    Much better to find yourself a health coach and learn how to eat in delicious ways to support your health... and happiness!