In her first interview since announcing on the Today Show that she has type 2 diabetes and has known for three years, Paula Deen told Prevention magazine that she did not intend to hide her health condition.
“I don’t live in secrets, even though it was my right to keep this information to myself,” Deen said.
The celebrity chef who earned her reputation on the Food Network show Paula’s Home Cooking said her “loyal supporters” have stood by her side through the media firestorm following her news and endorsement of the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. “And of course, there were the haters who judged me—unfairly I think,” Deen told the magazine. “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.”
What bothered her the most? “Probably the accusation that I was just doing this for financial gain,” she said. “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 the solution, not part of the problem. They gave me the power to reach masses of people and to bring information. Yes, I am being compensated for my time and work….”
Deen says she is making lifestyles changes to address diabetes, such as eating less starches and carbs, cutting her food in portions half and giving up her favorite southern beverage: sweet tea. “I would start drinking it at 11 o’clock in the morning, and it would be on my bedside table when I went to bed,” Deen said. “I figured I was just consuming 1 cup of sugar a day just in my sweet tea.”
In a separate article, Prevention encourages readers, “Diabetes doesn’t doom you to life of deprivation,” and recommends healthier versions of Deen’s signature southern recipes: chicken and dumplings, mac and cheese with potato chip crust, oven fried chicken, avocado chicken salad and chocolate bread pudding with rum toffee sauce.
Prevention asked Deen her opinion of Anthony Bourdain, the former chef and TV host of the Travel Channel show “No Reservations,” who has repeatedly criticized Deen in the media. “When your signature dish is a 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,” Bourdain told People.
Deen says her team has made her aware that Bourdain has publicly called her “the most evil dangerous woman in America,” she said. But Deen never forsakes her southern hospitality and charm. If Bourdain visited her house, as Prevention suggested, she would probably serve him “a salad with a rotisserie chicken on top.”
“I wish him the best. I just do,” Deen said of Bourdain. “I don’t wish anything bad on anybody. I know he’s had his demons, and I hope they’re under control.”