Paula Deen has had it rough in the media lately. After rumors ran rampant of her having diabetes and partnering with a drug company the celebrity chef found herself in the spotlight, but not one that was favorable. Many media sources speculated on the rumors, commented on the foods that made Deen famous, and sought to confirm the gossip.
Once the rumors seemed to spin out of control, Deen announced that she did in fact have diabetes and was partnering with Novo Nordisk to promote new drug solutions and healthy eating to combat the disease. The announcement by Deen caused a backlash of commentary from media personalities, Food Network chefs, and was criticized in a Saturday Night Live skit.
Deen pushed back against all the “mean” comments thrown her way. She claimed she didn’t understand why none of her Food Network co-stars spoke up in support of her after her announcement. In an exclusive interview with Prevention Magazine, the first since the celebrity chef’s announcement, Deen opened up about all that went down after telling the world she had Type 2 diabetes.
Prevention Mag asked her why it took so long (3 years) for her to reveal her diagnosis to the world. Deen responded, “When I became agoraphobic, it took me 20 years to be able to say, ‘Okay, y’all, I’m a sufferer of agoraphobia.’ I was so ashamed that I, a reasonable person, had let fear literally stop me in my tracks. I could not tell people that. It took me 3 years to get to the point where I could stand up and say, ‘Hey, my name is Paula, and I’m type 2 diabetic.’”
Deen told the magazine that she knew she would share the information one day. “It was not my intention to hide it forever, because I don’t live my life that way. I don’t live in secrets, even though it was my right to keep this information to myself,” said the star whose older recipes often called for large amounts of fats and sugars.
When asked if she was suprised about the media’s reaction to her announcement, Deen replied, “Oh my gosh, yes. But my fans, my loyal supporters, were incredible. I got so much love and support from them. And of course, there were haters that judged me—unfairly, I think. I don’t blame myself for this. And I don’t want 25 million people out there with diabetes blaming themselves. This is not something we chose.”
She claimed that the criticism that hurt the most was, “Probably the accusation that I was just doing this for financial gain. That’s so, so untrue. I could not come out and say, ‘Hey, y’all, I’m type 2 diabetic,’ and turn around and walk off. I had to have solutions. And I saw Novo Nordisk as part of that solution, not part of the problem. They gave me the power to reach masses of people and bring information. Yes, I’m being compensated for my time and work—and I hope that you’re not doing this interview for free, either. If it makes any difference to those people, I’m giving a percentage to the American Diabetes Association.”
Deen told Prevention that she wouldn’t have made the announcement in any other way. In the conclusion of the first part of the interview she said, “I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles in my life. And it’s my hope that when my party is up and I’m no longer here, if somebody says the name Paula Deen, the word that comes to mind is not butter but the word hope.”
The first part of Prevention Magazine’s interview with the Food Network star can be found in the April edition. Part 2 can be found online.