The 64-year-old star of Food Network's "Paula's Best Dishes" was in New York Monday to promote her new role in the Diabetes in a New Light campaign, USA Today said.
"I made the choice at the time to keep it close to me, to keep it close to my chest," she told the newspaper. "I felt like I had nothing to offer anybody other than the announcement. I wasn't armed with enough knowledge. I knew when it was time, it would be in God's time."
Now better-informed about the disease, she is participating in an ad campaign in partnership with Novo Nordisk, a maker of diabetes medications, as well as modifying some of her signature high-calorie Southern comfort dishes healthier.
"It's about heredity. It's about age, lifestyle, race. I'm the only one in my family who has it. My grandmother cooked and ate like I ate, and she didn't have it."
Deen went on to say her healthier new lifestyle includes taking medication, walking a mile or more a day on the treadmill and staying away from sweet tea.
"That's a big trick for a little Southern girl. I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering. I would start drinking tea at lunchtime and drank it all the way to bedtime," she said.