01/31/2012 05:30 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2012

Is Paula Deen a Victim Like the Rest of Us?

The news that Paula Deen, the queen of the Southern-fried kitchen announcing that she has Type 2 diabetes got me to thinking.

She has built her empire on deep-fried, buttery, sugar-laden foods that look like fun, but rob us of health. But who is really to blame for her penchant for deep-fat fried... anything?

Is Paula a victim just like the rest of America... or an accomplice in a crime against humanity?

Marketing has pulled the wool over all our eyes, but does Ms. Deen contribute to it or has she been fooled like the rest of us with health halos, checkmarks and packaging claims?

We live in a time of rapid change that pull us away from our center of being, our grounded sanity. We live in a flood of conflicting information on how to live, how to be healthy, how to define our values... even how we should view our personal well-being.

This culture, seemingly bent on self-destruction, has left us exposed as well as physically and emotionally bankrupt. How can we live lives that are more personally fulfilling, physically healthy and environmentally conscious?

The issue of health spans every aspect of human life. Our very biology, intellect and spirit are animated by health. Creating personal health may be the most important action in saving ourselves and our planet and in building a world that is safe, fair and works for everyone from every walk of life. Choosing food fit for human consumption links us back to nature and allows us to see more clearly our reliance on the health of each other and the planet.

This modern time is one of great danger and risk... and yet, is also one of great potential. There is a need for new thinking. There is a need for a new way to live life. We need to begin to see that disease, economic strife, social injustice and environmental degeneration are all connected to a common cause. Life has lost its value. We struggle for material comfort and gain, at the expense of the less fortunate and for the gain of the privileged few.

Ms. Deen exemplifies this better than anyone I can imagine. From humble beginnings as a struggling single mother, she pulled herself up and created an empire that has given her fame and fortune. But what is this empire built on?

Cooking food that makes us sick.

Now that she has fallen victim to her own lifestyle, she has chosen to become the paid spokesperson for a diabetes drug. Giving up "sweet tea" and walking on her treadmill will not allow her to change her health. Her diabetes drug will only mask the root of the problem. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, people 60 and over who change their diet and lifestyle can reduce their risk of diabetes by more than 71 percent. It can even, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, be reversed... in as little as one to eight weeks with lifestyle moderation.

What is the solution for Ms. Deen -- and the rest of us? In my view, the only solution is to live as though all life matters... to challenge complacency and take action that supports all life.

With the cultural influence Ms. Deen has, she is in a position to affect change and make a difference in her own life and health and in the lives of those who respect and admire her. With legions of fans who hang on every sizzle from her deep-fat fryer, she could wield her whisk and spoon in new ways that could help change the health of people just like her.

Of course, it would mean no lucrative deals with Novo Nordisk, Smithfield Meats and her own line of sugary baked goods in a number of Walmarts. It would mean the end to nonsense like you will find on the "Diabetes in a New Light" website (Novo Nordisk) with a recipe for a lighter lasagna that contains seven different cheeses. (Low-fat or not, that's a lot of cheese to be considered healthy in any way.)

But it would mean that she could become a positive force in the world, a force for change that could benefit people and their health.

She might be less wealthy for it... but she would be one of the richest people on earth.

For more by Christina Pirello, click here.

For more on diabetes, click here.