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Paula Deen on Her Diabetes: "I Don't Live in Secrets"

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[Photos: Eater]

In the "first extensive interview since announcing that she has type 2 diabetes," grease queen Paula Deen talked to Prevention magazine (the article is not online). In the interview, Deen explained her decision to wait three years to tell the world she had type 2 diabetes ("It was not my intention to hide it forever... I don't live in secrets") and addressed the "haters" that "judged [her] unfairly." Deen barely answers any of questions, and instead she mostly spins the same hyperbole and rhetoric she's used in the past. She also admitted to having consumed "1 cup of sugar a day just in my sweet tea."

On why she hid the news for three years: "... I knew that one day I would share this, when I felt I had answers and solutions. 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."

On whether she was surprised by the "firestorm in the media": "Oh my gosh, yes. But my fans, my loyal supporters, were incredible. I got so much love and supports 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."

On what "part of the criticism hurt [her] the most": "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 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 — 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."

On giving up sweet tea after learning she had diabetes: "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. I figured I was just consuming 1 cup of sugar a day just in my sweet tea."

On the cons of announcing the drug endorsement deal: "I felt like the reaction from people might be 'Well, of course she's diabetic — look at her food.' They would want to blame it on my heritage and the kinds of meals that I cook. To me, that was serious. I didn't want to be criticized or apologetic for who I am or where I came from."

On "developing Southern health food": "I feel like I have been defending Southern cooking ever since I first stepped in front of the TV. I think the South really gets a bad rap, and it's unfair. I don't know anybody here who eats fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy every day. In the last ten years, I've been able to travel to all parts of the United States.... I haven't been anywhere that eats more vegetables than we do in the South... I've tried to figure out why we get such a bad wrap, and I think it's because the food that totally represents the South has the word fried in it — fried chicken, fried pork chops, country fried steak."

When asked if she would have done anything "differently in making the announcement": "No. When I made my first public appearance after the hubbub, I was a little anxious. But I walked out to a theater filled with 2,500 people, and I got a standing ovation. I said, 'Oh my goodness, I did not realize how badly I needed to be here with y'all.' If I ever had any doubts about whether I was doing the right thing or not, they have me my answer.... 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 comes to mind is not butter but the word hope."

· Prevention Magazine [Official Site]
All Paula Deen Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All PaulabetesGate Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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