That being said…Do I think Paula’s history of fat-laden, unhealthy recipes and its subsequent effect on her weight may have played a part in her diabetes diagnosis? Yes, at least to some degree. Type 2 diabetes is multifaceted, being caused by a multitude of factors. Overweight and obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise are a few of these factors. Genetics and family history are also factors too, though.
Do I think her view of moderation and mine are a little different? Yes, I do. A bacon cheeseburger stuffed between two glazed donuts is not a food that should be enjoyed in “moderation.” That’s a once a year dish right there. But Paula’s not a dietitian and not a doctor, so should we have been looking to her for guidance on how to eat? No. She’s a chef, and hasn’t ever claimed anything more.
Do I think the timing of her public announcement of her diagnosis has anything to do with her being paid as a spokesperson for Noro Novodisk, a prominent diabetes pharmaceutical company? Yes, probably. I understand wanting to wrap your head around a big health diagnosis before sharing it. And honestly, it’s a personal decision whether to even share it with the world. However, it does seem very coincidental that there was already a paid promotional opportunity lined up. But Paula, and all of us, are in a business world. If you were offered money to talk about a health issue you had, would you take it? Maybe or maybe not - but it’s not surprising that some choose to. When the cast of the Jersey Shore is making money getting trashed and sleeping around, I’d say Paula’s decision to accept an offer to be the face of diabetes is less reprehensible.
At the heart of all this talk, I think it brings to light an important issue - at some point, each one of us needs to take an honest look at our personal choices and assess whether it may impact our health. Personal responsibility is an essential component of diet and lifestyle. We can sue McDonald’s all we want for making people obese, claim that restaurant’s oversized portions are causing us to gain weight, or pick brownies over fruit because it tastes better – but we are the ones stepping in the door to those places, ordering those foods, and choosing those snacks. Some of us are in situations where it is more difficult to make healthy choices (lack of money, lack of affordable fresh foods, unsafe neighborhoods, etc) – but all of us have some control and willpower over our health.
On a final note - I am always one for empowering people. I’m a supporter of healthy choices, positive body images, and increasing self-efficacy for making healthy choices. Let’s pause from knocking Paula, and acknowledge that she brings the issue of personal responsibility to light. Let’s take a look at our own behaviors and choices. No one is perfect, myself included. Let’s encourage Paula to change her lifestyle while we work to do the same.