Paula Deen gave an interview on the Today Show with Al Roker this morning about her rumored diagnosis…that was reported by National Enquirer earlier last year, but with no response from her or her team.
Queen of comfort cuisine Paula Deen confirmed to Al Roker Tuesday that she has type-2 diabetes.
In her first broadcast interview discussing the disease, Deen said she intentionally kept the diagnosis secret after discovering she had it during a routine physical three years ago. “I came home, I told my children, I told my husband, I said, ‘I’m gonna keep this close to my chest for the time being’ because I had to figure out things in my own head,” she told Roker on TODAY.
Rumors that the 64-year-old Southern cook suffers from the disease have been persistent. The National Enquirer first reported the diagnosis in April 2010. Deen neither confirmed nor denied the reports – until now.
“I’m here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence,” said the Food Network star, who is now being paid as a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that supplies her diabetes medication. Coinciding with her announcement, Deen and her family are appearing in a new ad campaign for the company this month.
The news puts a spotlight on Deen, who has been criticized for promoting the type of high-fat, high-sugar diet that leads to weight gain – a major factor believed to cause type-2 diabetes. Deen says her reputation wasn’t the reason she kept the diagnosis under wraps.
“No. People are not going to quit eating; we quit eating, we’re all out of here,” Deen said. “I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward.”
When asked about whether she will make a change in how she cooks on her show, “Paula’s Best Dishes,” Deen didn’t give a direct answer, instead encouraging viewers to practice moderation.
“Here’s the thing, you know, I’ve always encouraged moderation,” she said. “On my show, you know, I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people ‘in moderation… You can have that little piece of pie …'”
Deen told USA Today that since the diagnosis, she walks on the treadmill and quit drinking sweet tea. “That’s a big trick for a little Southern girl,” she told the paper. “I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering. I would start drinking tea at lunchtime and drank it all the way to bedtime.”
When asked by Roker about changes to her own diet, Deen emphasized her moderation mantra.
“I have always eaten in moderation,” she said. “You know, people see me on TV two or three times a day and they see me cooking all these wonderfully Southern, fattening dishes. That’s only 30 days out of 365,” she said. “And it’s for entertainment. And people have to be responsible. Like I told Oprah a few years ago, honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself.”
Deen, who told TODAY.com last year that she couldn’t do without butter or a deep-fryer, was called out by fellow food personality Anthony Bourdain in a TV Guide article for being “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” who “revels in her unholy connections with evil corporations” and is “proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.”
Deen responded, telling the New York Post, “Anthony Bourdain needs to get a life.” Positioning herself as relatable to the home cook, she added, “Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”
Bourdain, who says he was flooded by requests for quotes after news of Deen’s announcement leaked, shared his reaction with Eater.com. “When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got type 2 diabetes… It’s in bad taste if nothing else.”
While Deen will continue cooking her fatty comfort meals on her show, her son Bobby has been promoting lower-calorie versions of his mom’s recipes (sans the butter and heavy cream), with his new Cooking Channel show, “Not My Mama’s Meals.”
I’ve said everything I have to say about this. I did want to follow up with this and the video because when I wrote about it, it was only rumored, and I was fully prepared to eat my hat. You don’t wish this on anyone, and I would’ve rather ate my hat than have to watch this video of her admitting this… and quite frankly, I couldn’t even watch it all. I stopped it a minute and 15 seconds in.
“You are a paid spokesperson, though…”
“Absolutely, I have been compensated just as you have been compensated for your work.”
I’m gonna go grab a barf bag. Your thoughts, though?
I wonder if she’s quit smoking? As far as I’m concerned that’s just as bad for you as eating those deliciously unhealthy meals she cooks up! And I will say that her soon has shown some wonderful alternatives to her unhealthy meals but for me his stuff is nothing new 🙂 I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been learning to make healthier versions of the foods I loved for a while now! Common sense tells us that 2 sticks of butter (especially if you’re using 60%vegetable spread) isn’t good for you! And there are tons of websites available to find substitutions.
This is one of my favorites! Love your site Erika! I was wondering something – How do you feel about low or slow carb diets? Or have you already posted that somewhere on here?
Erika- I have been reading your articles for a few months now, and I really enjoy them. I had to say something about this one though! If Paula Deene says her food can be eaten healthfully in moderation, and she herself stated that she eats in moderation, HOW did she get Type 2 diabetes? From sweet tea? That pisses me off. Don’t insult my intelligence! I would respect her if she said that she has profited by showing America how to prepare the foods she loves, and now those poor choices have caught up with her and damaged her health. She said it herself, she is a cook, not a doctor! To not acknowledge that her food choices put her in this situation, and that her style needs to change in order to better her health, just shows that she is trying to continue to play America stupid! I guess people are just supposed to keep eating her slop and just take this medication she is pushing, so she can keep getting rich. She would have been better off keeping her business to herself.
I’m sorry she has diabetes but who is she kidding? She didn’t tell because she didn’t want to “ruin her brand.” Maybe she needs to stop sucking those cigarettes. Come on Paula, it’s hard to quit smoking, but not impossible, I did it in 1989 and it was the hardest drug I ever had to quit, no kidding.
I don’t like the fact that she is only now announcing her diabetes because she is a paid spokersperson for a pharmaceutical company. I didn’t like watching her cooking shows because it looked so unhealthy. To me she just seems disingenuous.
Even when I was living an unhealthier lifestyle, I could not get with her cooking. Too much fat and sugar. No one in their right mind could have possibly thought it was healthy. But of course, we know people who cook this way every day. I feel for her on the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, but we all know that this is a money replacement ploy.
Though I’m not surprised to hear that she has Type 2 Diabetes, I am a little put off at the fact that she somewhat kept skirting the issue about the possiblity in changing her eating habits and what she is doing differently to address this issue on a personal level. I understand the need to bring something to the table after figuring it out in your own head (from a business and brand perspective), but, to me, this interview pretty much was a launching pad for an off-shoot of her new “product”, the drug company she is being compensated for and it’s “product”, and her children’s “product”. When Al tried to focus the interview on a professional medical level by introducing their medica coorespondant, Paula just basically steam-rolled right over that and kept talking about herself. To me, this was not a connectable or relatable interview, but rather a six-minute infomercial.
Boy, oh boy, I was waiting on you to address this. I can breathe, now! LOL
I think this is pretty shameful on Paula’s part. All she had to do was to admit that her cooking and eating habits caused her Type 2 Diabetes but no! Sweet tea? Come on now! We’re not idiots! I could never really get with her show too tough… Every show had at least one cringe worthy recipe. She capitalized on her bad food and she’s paying the price for it now! Soon she’ll need a drug to counteract the drug that’s counteracting the Diabetes drug… The vicious cycle never ends! Diet overhaul trumps all drugs!
Watching Paula Dean cook is like food porn-Entertaining-perhaps?.. But pure fantasy indulgence & if practiced regularly will DEFinitely kill you.
Well, anyone who pointed to Paula Deen as to why they would not have to change their lifestyle (“I love her, I love her food and she is so healthy!”) may have to reconsider.
I completely agree with you. I was appalled that she held on to the secret so long and continued to sell her way of life. As some of the comments suggest she must think we are all stupid or something. Yea I am going to moderately eat a corner of your donut bacon egg sandwich and forgo a wholesome breakfast FOH. On top of it all she is endorsing a drug company, like that is the first public solution! Instead of admitting her way of life caused her disease she is holding on to the old rhetoric. I just posted about this as well http://www.paparoxi.com/the-life/2012/1/18/the-price-of-being-paula-deen.html?lastPage=true#comment16613578
I’ve been following your blog for a while…. Love it. I had to comment on the paula deen thing.
I have type 1 diabetes and unfortunately so do 2 of my children, believe me it sucks. People are quick to point out that type 2 diabetes is genetic
( as is type 1 ) Both I guess genetics are a loaded gun. However with type 2 there are things that you can to stop the trigger. Eat well and exercise.
I am disgusted that she is now going to be the spokesman for a type 2 diabetes medication. WTF
Its a major lifestyle change … As she’s not changing her life including smoking ( worse thing a diabetic can do) She should NOT be the spokesperson.
I am all for healthy eating and taking care of self, but I think a lot of this anger directed at Paula Deen is misdirected. It is the responsibility of the individual to address and take care of their health. Does it help that she is in the public eye and endorses a method of cooking that is not ideea..no. However, my heart goes out to her as she has ro deal with and manage this medical condition. I hope that she moves towards a healthier way of cooking and eating, but if she doesn’t, that’s her choice. We all have free will to choose. I am glad each of you are choosing life but remember, it can still happen to any of us for a variety of reasons (something like diabetes, thatbis). Be mindful that we don’t let pride and righteous indignation cloud how we view others who are struggling with things. Take good care and good health to each of you!
Righteous indignation? Are you talking about in general, as in outside of this blog post?
Are we confusing complaints about a legitimate integrity and credibility issue with “personal responsibility and accountability?” I don’t care what she eats. I don’t care that she chose to keep her illness a secret. I care that she was busted for it, had the opportunity to come clean, and chose NOT to until she could get paid for it. I find that gross.
I still wish her all the best, but I want people to stop acting like they can’t parse out one issue from another. Yes, we all have personal choices we can make. But that’s not what we’re talking about, here.
This time I am going to hate the playa, not the game. This is all business to her and she was protecting her brand. I hope she gets smart real soon before its too late.
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