Deen, author of a series of popular cookbooks and host of television cooking shows, has never been shy about cooking foods that are bacon- or cream-filled. In fact, "Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible" was listed among the worst of 2011 by the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, the Baltimore Sun's Picture of Health blog noted. The group, which promotes healthy foods and eating, said her cookbook and others on the list encourage Americans to fill up on high-fat, meat-heavy meals.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency, there is no direct line between diabetes and overeating, but there can be a relationship. NIH says, "Family history and genes play a large role in type 2 diabetes. Low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist increase your risk."
Deen defended her cooking style -- and her decision to keep her diabetes diagnosis a secret for three years -- to TODAY's Al Roker: "I have always encouraged moderation. I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people, in moderation... it's entertainment. People have to be responsible."
On her website, she says she'll continue to promote Southern recipes -- but with a lighter touch. She also will be "sharing with Americans an exciting a new campaign called 'Diabetes in a New Light.' It’s going to be a tasty journey, and I hope that y’all will come along with me." In her folksy way, she notes that she will be cutting back on sweet tea, and getting more exercise. (The new program is a partnership with Novo Nordisk, which makes Victoza, a diabetes drug.)
I wish her the best. And if I finally get to visit Savannah this spring, on a side trip from Charleston, I plan to head -- despite the Physicians Committee's warning -- for The Lady & Sons. I'm ready to pay my $21.99 for a plate of Shrimp and Grits: Hot buttered grits topped with tasso, peppers and onions, finished with white wine cream sauce.