Food Glorious Food

Back up off me, y’all!

Wanna know what the big story was for me this week?

No, it wasn’t that Newt Gingrich allegedly asked his ex-wife for an open marriage so that he could have permission to continue to cheat on her with his current wife….

It wasn’t that Vanessa Bryant became the $75 million (and three mansions) Woman thanks to marrying a man too undisciplined to keep it in his pants and too stupid to get himself a pre-nuptual agreement….

And it wasn’t even finding out that President Barack Obama can carry a tune, something that’s probably going to give Republicans and every black man who’s tired of hearing “Why can’t you be more like Barack?” just another reason to hate him…

For me the biggest news of the week was the news that Paula Deen, the Southern Fried hostess of the only Food Network program that I can get my boyfriend to watch with me without hearing him complain about it, is a Type-2 diabetic…and has been for the last three years.

Deen made the announcement as part of the unveiling of a website from Norvo Nordisk, a drug company that has employed her as its spokesperson for the diabetes medication she takes, something called Victoza. The website includes recipes for healthier meals created by Deen, who is better known for things like the video above, which features her making a deep-fried cheesecake.

(Mad (political) Scientist’s Note: Her son, Bobby, has just started a show on the Cooking Channel called Not My Mama’s Meals, designed to take the creations that his mom made famous and make them healthier. Someone’s gotta think of the brand, I guess…)

Predictably, every nutritionist, chef and Paula Deen critic came out of the woodwork to call “Shenanigans!” on her for waiting until she was given millions by a drug company to talk about her illness and also for continuing to cook the kinds of food that everyone associates with giving you Type -2 diabetes, which can be caused by obesity among other things. Most notable among those critics is fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who took to his Twitter feed to proclaim that he should, and I’m paraphrasing, go into leg breaking so that he could make millions off of selling crutches.

Now do I think that Deen is just a tad disingenuous for tying the announcement of her diabetes to the announcement that she’s gonna get big bucks for telling people about her medication? Yeah. I’ve got my issues with that. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I had a doctor that I swear was in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. I felt like a lab rat by the time that I finally switched doctors, his unwillingness to take me off of Avandia, a drug associated with heart attacks in diabetics, being the last straw.

But do I think that she’s the anti-Christ because she refuses to say “I’m never going to eat another spoonful of macaroni and cheese ever again”?


You see, my hope is that Deen uses her bully pulpit on Food Network and everywhere else she goes to use a word that no one seems to want to use when it comes to the politics of food consumption in this country:


Now I know that to some of you who will read this blog, I’ve just said a bad word. You’re not supposed to practice moderation if you’re a diabetic. You’re supposed to want to eat nothing but salads, and fish, and sugar-free stuff for the rest of your life. You’re supposed to look at a chicken wing like it’s toxic. You’re supposed to think of your disease every time you even think about eating.

To those of you who feel this way, I have a simple and concise one-word response.


Now I recognize that my response may be perceived as harsh. I recognize that to those who love the diabetics they call family and friends this may appear unfeeling. I get it. While I think that you should focus more on whether or not we have health insurance than what we’re eating, I do, indeed, get it.

But here’s what you need to get when dealing with us when it comes to food: We know what we’re dealing with even better than you do. So we’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t stare down our throats as we have that occasional serving of macaroni and cheese during the holidays. We’d love it if you wouldn’t begin fretting the minute we take a bite from a Red Velvet cupcake.

In other words, we’d appreciate it if you didn’t treat us like we can’t control our impulses. We’re not Kobe Bryant…

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. If folks actually ate the stuff that Paula Deen (and if he’s honest with himself, Anthony Bourdain) cooked all day every day, you’d be able to pick their hardened arteries out of their arms within six months. Rich, fatty, deep fried foods aren’t generally included in the everyday meals of most people.

But when things like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, Red Velvet cake and Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream are on the menu, folks should be allowed to enjoy them without being made to feel like they’re going to die within an hour of consuming them.

As a nation, we have an obesity rate that’s kinda ridiculous. Our rates of childhood obesity are so outrageous that First Lady Michelle Obama has made reducing them her cause. Granted, Congress isn’t helping her much by saying that pizza is a vegetable (which it ain’t), but she’s trying to get more veggies into our kids.

However, I can’t help but think that some of America’s problems with obesity stem from our dysfunctional relationship with food. When you try and shame people into losing weight by making snide remarks, or chastising them whenever they so much as take a bite out of a piece of bread, you make food more important than it actually is.

That makes people self-conscious.

Which leads to their feeling ashamed of eating.

Which makes them eat in secret.

Which leads to depression.

Which leads to overeating.

Which leads to obesity.

Which can lead to diabetes.

See where I’m going with this?

So rather than condemn Paula Deen for being a diabetic who makes gooey butter cakes (I personally make chocolate chip cookies from scratch…I eat two and give the rest away), I’m hoping that her being a diabetic forces us to have a conversation about moderation….

because, as she often puts it, she’s our cook, not our nurse.

No, I’m not gonna eat all this butter! So back off of me, y’all!