Paula Deen built her empire on a love of fried food, but the 64-year-old Food Network star made a shocking announcement Tuesday: she's suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
"I was diagnosed three years ago during a regular physical exam with my doctor," Deen revealed on The Today Show. "I'm here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence."
Deen chose to keep her condition private because she "had to figure things out in my own head...I had nothing to give with my fellow friends out there."
Now a paid spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, Deen is gearing up for the launch of Diabetes in a New Light, which offers "simple ways" to manage the disease.
"People are not going to quit eating. We quit eating, we're all out of here. I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward, and I've always been one to think that I bring hope, because I've had lots of obstacles in my life, y'all."
When Al Roker repeatedly asked Deen if her diagnosis was a direct result of her butter-rich diet, she admitted that it's "part of the puzzle" but not the only factor.
Citing genetics, lifestyle, diet, stress and age, Deen said that like many baby boomers, "there's a good chance that [Type 2 Diabetes] will be one of the issues you have to face."
"Here's the thing: I have always encouraged moderation. On my show I share with you all these yummy fattening recipes, but I tell people, 'In moderation. In moderation,'" Deen explained. "I've always eaten in moderation," she said, adding that the recipes seen on her show account for only 30 meals a year.
"It's like I told Oprah [Winfrey] a few years ago: 'Honey, I'm your cook, not your doctor,'" Deen said. "You are going to have to be responsible for yourself."