January 20, 2012 – Open Season on Paula Deen

Pre-breakfast blood sugar:  154

Pre-dinner blood sugar:  168

Breakfast:  English muffin, scrambled eggs, bacon

Lunch: Last night’s leftovers (ate 2 hours later mthan my normal lunch time)

Dinner: Slow cooker cheesy chicken, rice, and green beans

For those of you who don’t read news like these pieces, who have taken the SOPA/PIPA protests way too seriously and haven’t caught up, and those of you who live under rocks, Paula Deen has finally come out to say she’s diabetic with her promotion of the medication she takes to manage her condition.  Since this is the first day I’ve had a chance to gather my thoughts about it since the SOPA/PIPA protest (two little ones will keep you busy), I feel I should really throw in my two cents now.

There’s plenty of shame to go all around this story.  Yes, Mrs. Deen should have promoted healthier eating in her work.  Yes, the timing of her decision to announce her diabetes and her new paid promotion of Victoza seems pretty sketchy.  Yes, her age and weight may have contributed to her situation.  Yes, for diabetics who have the disease running heavily in one’s family, it may even seem a little dramatic to go on the Today Show and make a big to-do about it.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, pot, kettle, black.

However, the open season of fat jokes and snark about all of that is uncalled for.  There are plenty of old, fat, non-diabetics as well as young, skinny diabetics; take the time to learn and educate yourself about the disease before you open your mouth in schadenfreude – genetics, activity level, quality of care (I know people whose doctors neglected the care of their patients’ diabetes issues until some big, money-making, issue came along), etc. also play key factors.

About what she cooks:  Did we all seriously think that’s all she eats?  No – just because you like to cook and can throw down doesn’t mean you have to and want to every single meal.  Let’s say she eats a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and some celery.  How entertaining would a cooking show be if we watch someone smear some peanut butter on bread and slice up an apple and celery?  Unless you feature a purple singing dinosaur and direct the show toward preschoolers, that ain’t going to sell.  The novel is what sells, and often that means indulgent for many people who love to cook.  Any TV cook with some sense knows that not every recipe is going to appeal to every viewer; for example every time dear Paula throws in mayo in a recipe, I know I can’t bring myself to make or eat it; when Rachael Ray sends me shrimp recipes, I don’t bother looking at them.  This industry is not meant to dictate what you should eat at every meal, but to inspire unique dishes for special moments.  Are cooking celebrities forbidden to occasionally eat food that isn’t exciting to watch being made?  I must be confused.

In regards to her timing, who says other factors weren’t into play around this time?  Just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t mean every thought and emotion she experiences has to be out there for us to soak in and comment.  If we respect Beyonce’s decision to rent out an entire floor of a hospital, keeping hospital beds and service from women and newborns who might have needed it, to delay other parents seeing their own babies in NICU because her daughter was there, then darnit we should let Paula Deen disclose her medical information in her own time, and allow her to disclose what she wishes.  Anthony Bourdain et al.,  until you open up a free, open source to your medical records, ALL OF IT, as well as a continuous feed of your thoughts and feelings, and I mean even if you are thinking about holding in a fart you tweet about it, you have no room to attack.  Get back to your own show, buddy, and stop using her condition to booster your own publicity and franchise.  Atleast some of her compensation is going to charity.

Most importantly of all, so many people are missing the important lessons she is trying to impart to the rest of us:  that diabetes “is not a death sentence” unless you let it and that eating in moderation is important.

Partly due to many diabetics from over the decades, there are plenty of horror stories of diabetics having lost limbs or use of an eye, risk problems with their newborn children if they’re “allowed” to have children in the first place, very life-restricting limitations, whining on commercials about how painful testing one’s glucose level is, etc., and many people use those stories as their heuristic of diabetes, a guideline as to what is and isn’t in store for them.  Guess what?  Research and awareness has increased, medicine and medical techniques have improved, and patients are more empowered to not make it the evil overlord of their lives.  To make this happen, some of your habits have to change, you have look at what is currently going on, and you have to allow yourself to not wallow in self-pity over your diagnosis.  However, if you continue bad habits, if you continue to allow old diabetic folk tales of yore and self-pity to limit your life, it will be a death sentence even with the best of health care, because you allowed it to be, you allowed yourself to not live.

Ah, moderation.  This reminds me of a unit in my high school philosophy class when we discussed the differences between the original Greek version of Epicurean hedonism and the Roman version.  (Note to philosophy experts:  I may be oversimplifying or not being 100% accurate, but this was about 13 years ago, a 50-minute, 5 days a week class for a semester covering all of the history of philosophy using the Socratic method of teaching, so please pardon my explanation if it is not up to your standards.) To sum everything up, pleasure is the greatest good.  Originally it meant overall pleasure, not just the pleasure of the moment.  Have those six chocolate kisses on Christmas and not worry about it – eat, drink and be merry in moderation – enjoy that little bit of life but not to the extent to harm yourself or others.  However, the Romans essentially twisted it, eating all the time between visits to the vomitorium (maybe those spaces weren’t really used like that, but you get the point), drinking until one passes out, and being merry until their genitals bleed, and much of American society follows suit.  We either extreme diet to fit into a size 0, or we eat five of Paula’s infamous donut burgers a day; we either are all quiet about human sexuality or we let it all hang out; we either don’t play Skyrim at all or we are on it every practical waking moment; we expect all new mothers to breastfeed directly from the tap or to stock up on formula before the baby even arrives; either way we then wonder why we’re sick, troubled, and unhappy.  Diabetes is not an allergy to sugar – everyone needs some sugar to survive; however despite what my grandparents among others have been taught to believe, you can’t just eat 10 trips worth of food at the buffet, take your pill and be okay either.  It is that fine balance between the two extremes that all of us should live by, diabetic or not, and not just in our health-related habits, either.  Our choices of hobbies, relationships, parenting decisions, how we spend our money/time/resources, how we view people alike ourselves and those who are differ, etc., could all stand a little bit of balancing among extremes.

Life is not so much just black and white, but many wonderful shades of gray.  A good, fulfilling life is grey, or rather, silver.  🙂