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WATCH: Paula Deen Speaks Up About Diabetes Backlash

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When Food Network star Paula Deen announced her diabetes diagnosis in January, the public reaction was not as positive as she probably hoped. “No Reservations” star Anthony Bourdain openly mocked her decision to keep her condition secret for three years, saying, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

It was reported that her fellow Food Network hosts did not support her, and celebrity foodies Hugh Acheson and Andrew Zimmern publicly criticized the way she handled her announcement. Even her publicist quit over the situation.

Now that the dust has settled, Deen is finally opening up about people’s reactions and explaining why she waited as long as she did to make her announcement.

She told Al Roker on “TODAY”, “I think it was from a few people that were kinda mean about it and hold it against me. But the people that care for me, Al, they came out like you wouldn’t believe, and they were the people that I care about.”

She said that she has “broad shoulders” and can handle the criticism, explaining, “I feel like God has given me a blessing, because my mother and daddy died very young, and I’m so proud that I lived long enough to be a member of the baby boomers and to have to deal with something like this.”

Her son Bobby also appeared on the show, where they were making a light version of a frittata, one of Deen’s new healthier recipes. He spoke about how proud he was of his mother, and blamed her critics for their negativity.

“It was tough,” he said. “I think that when someone comes out and announces that they have an illness and people pile on, it really says something about maybe who’s doing the talking.”

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the unkind comments. Bourdain immediately tweeted his reaction to Deen’s comment that some people had been mean, writing, “‘Some people were kind(a) mean..’ Some people were kind of greedy.”

The crux of the issue seems to be the length of time Deen took in announcing her diagnosis. Many of her fans felt betrayed that she continued to promote high-calorie, high-fat fare, even though she herself had a condition that might have been improved via a healthier diet. Deen finally opened up as to why she waited nearly three years to make her ailment public.

“It took me 20 years to come out and stand up and say, ‘Hey, my name’s Paula and I’m agoraphobic,'” she told the Associated Press. “I was so ashamed, so embarrassed. So to do it in two-and-a-half years, I thought it was pretty good.”

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  • Funnayface

    People kind of pickon people who think are perfect, Paula did not have to disclose anything, Your private life is just that. Private. If you have not walked in her shoes keep quiet. There is Always someone who has to give thier OPINION weather it is right or wrong or YIKES politically correct. Enough said.

    • Fchavez

      You don’t get. It’s not her privacy that the issue. It is the way she continued to make money from both her high sugar cooking show and her lucrative diabetic endorsements that angered people about her greed and hypocrisy.

      • Beckiejoedwards

        I am a proud Southerner as is Paula. The food that Paula cooks is our heritage. So when you attack her it is as if you are attacking a way of life here. So instead of criticizing her why don’t you just turn your channel. Its true what they say about southern hospitality but don’t think you can put us down without expecting a fight.

  • Steve

    It took Paula Deene years to get to a point where she was above poverty and was seeing that she could make a living doing what she does best…cook. I understand her taking time to think about how she would share her news and not jeopardize her very good living. She needed time to absorb what had happened to her and to accept the diagnosis. She is incredibly giving and so she lived her bigger than life personality while she developed a plan of action. Can’t imagine what I might have done had I been in her shoes. I love watching her and seeing the love she puts into what she makes. She doesn’t make me cook or eat it, and I am sure that if I made one of her dishes, like her son Bobby, I would lighten it up and serve it as a treat. I am not sorry about her not saying anything…she is a great lady, I am only sorry that she now has the disease that took my own father’s life.

  • Lunareclipse79

    She is disgraceful. 3 years of telling people eat full fat butter, use whole fat cream, lard is the only way to go and deep fry everything. Thankful I have never liked her.

  • She has spent years and made boat loads of cash helping people cook pure and total crap. Paula Dean, McDonald’s…same difference. It’s about choice. If people choose to eat crap, and we all do, the responsibility is their own.

    Only, Paula isn’t a corporation. She is one, very real human being. When she was diagnosed with a relatively serious health issue… she could have reached out to those who were fans and “loved” her. Supported her career both emotionally and monetarily. There was an opportunity for Paula to do something good for those who had helped her to get where she is. Wake up calls happen to all of us, and Paula could have been that call for many.

    At no point was Paula under the obligation to be a decent, caring human being. She didn’t have to tell anybody. Nobody’s business but her own.

    But don’t pretend to be a beloved or concerned human being uhmk? You kept your mouth shut to keep your money flowing. You kept your fans in the dark to make sure you could capitalize on every dime possible. When it became advantageous for you to announce it, you did.

    You don’t give a darn about anybody but yourself, and lying about that is causing the backlash. People thought your BS was real, and you have proven that you took them for a ride. If you want to pretend it’s because you have diabetes…whatever.

    Was never a fan of PD and never will be. I feel for the people who were though.

  • Dora Smith

    I think that maybe type 2 diabetes is being treated like the lifestyle and diet issue it is. Now, if she’d run into trouble for taking care of it, that would be another story.

    Clearly the bulk of her trouble is actually that she is evidently still selling products that cause type 2 diabetes. Now, those of us who have this condition run in our families have all watched people self destruct with their dietary problems, but this is taking it too far.

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