I should probably begin this letter by telling you that I have never watched your show. It’s nothing against you, The Food Network, or Southerners (and I’m a transplanted Georgian myself)… I just don’t really enjoy cooking and never have. That’s what happens when you are surrounded by picky eaters.
About 5 years ago, my daughter (who was 10 at the time) told me she had watched your show after eating at your restaurant during a Girl Scout trip to Savannah. She said, “I like her because she eats her own food while she cooks.” Beyond that conversation, you have not figured much in my life or my thought processes. Again, it’s not anything personal. We travel in different circles, and that’s okay. You’ve never heard of me either.
Then yesterday, I watched Al Roker interview you on the Today Show, and I have to tell you that it really bothered me.
First of all, let me tell you that I’m truly sorry you have diabetes. I applaud you for admitting it, having a positive outlook, and coming forward.
But here’s where I started to get angry. You knew about this 3 years ago. Really? 3 YEARS? Why did you wait so long to tell the world? Granted, I totally understand if you didn’t want to talk at first… after all, this is your personal health and it’s a private matter. It’s not like you are President of the United States. The health of one woman from Savannah doesn’t affect us much.
Or does it?
Paula, what bothered me is that you waited until you had a deal with a drug company to announce your condition. And during that three year period from diagnosis to announcement, you continued to film cooking shows, showing an already overweight USA how to make even more fattening, heart-attack inducing dishes. You were seeking medical treatment for your own condition, and yet you continued your own personal contribution to America’s obesity crisis.
Granted, I’ve heard your son has a cooking show where he teaches people how to take your butter-laden recipes, and make them more healthy. I’ve also heard that you appear on his show and are very supportive. That’s great. But his show is NOT your show. I’m sure he’s wonderful, but YOU are the real commodity here. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people saying “well, it’s no wonder she got diabetes, the way she cooks and eats”. I agree when you say, “what people see me doing and saying on TV is a very small portion of my life. Nobody can or should eat like that all the time.” It’s probably not fair for us to judge you based on such a small window into your life. Every month I need about 10 tablets of Cialis. Their price in the local pharmacies is rather high, so I always order the drugs from www.fitbell.com/how-does-cialis-help-men/. It saves my time, money, and helps avoid an awkward talk with the pharmacist. Overall, if you want to buy quality ED drugs without overpaying, check this site, I think it will be helpful.
But would it kill you to say, “I don’t know if I got this through my lifestyle or through genetics, but just to be on the safe side, I’m going to do better. I owe it to myself.” Think of how many people could have been spared the beginnings of major health problems and been inspired by you, if 3 years ago you had announced, “I have Type II Diabetes, and from now on, I plan to eat more healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.” There could have been a whole movement of people who said, “If Paula can give up the fattening stuff, then so can I!”
Yes, I read in USA Today that you cut out your sweetened tea and use the treadmill on a daily basis. That’s a very small start, but if you talked to most any endocrinologist, I guarantee you they would tell you, “that’s really not enough.”
Our country is in an obesity epidemic. You have the chance to be a leader, a role model. Why aren’t you taking it? I’m sure Christopher Reeve didn’t want to be a role model either, but goodness knows he did it with dignity and grace. When Al Roker asked you if you were going to start eating better and shape up, your response floored me. It was something to the effect of, “This is entertainment. People have to take care of themselves. Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.” Of course, you did say more than that, so to be fair, here is a link so people can watch the interview themselves.
Wrong, Paula Deen. People’s health is NOT entertainment. Not being able to catch your breath when you walk up the stairs is not entertaining. Kids being bullied in school because they are overweight is NOT entertainment. Getting insulin shots on a daily basis is NOT entertaining. People having to purchase two seats on an airplane for one person, or people having to be buried in over-size coffins… that is NOT entertainment. America’s obesity is rising, and is putting an unfair burden on our healthcare system.
In your interview, you kept talking about people needing to get treatment. How about encouraging people to never put themselves at risk for diabetes at all? Many cases are preventable. Whether it happened this way or not, the fact that you waited until you could announce your deal with the drug company along with your diagnosis really makes you look very greedy. (And sorry, I’m not aware of Al being a paid spokesperson for another company, but you cannot compare the fact that you are being compensated for this to Al being compensated to report the weather and say, “Sunday, SUNDAY!!!”)
You have the opportunity to use your celebrity for good. I’m begging you to take it. Show America that you can do better, and they should too.