In her diet book It’s All Good, Gwyneth Paltrow promises to show you the secrets to look good, feel good and lose weight, all with some easy recipes. Does it live up to the promises?
Deadly French Fries
Let’s tackle it from the beginning: the book starts with Gwyneth Paltrow telling us how she was almost killed by french fries. According to her, it were these little sticks of doom that brought her to the “brink of death,” which apparently means she had a migraine and panic attack.
I’m not sure we can classify this as “better order a coffin” or how french fries can cause a panic attack, but no matter what, it was this life-changing event that had her get more medical tests done on her than the guys who signed up for the Apollo program had to go through.
The results apparently showed that she is allergic to pretty much everything, while also having a thyroid problem, anemia, vitamin D deficiency and a congested liver. To complete the devastating picture, she on top learned that her hormones were “off,” that she had an “inflammation” and “high levels of metals and a blood parasite” in her system.
Dr. Alejandro Junger
The doctor who came up with this nerve-wrecking diagnosis (I wonder if it sent her to the “brink of death” again) is one Alejandro Junger. His solution to Paltrow’s predicament was that she had to “cleanse” her body with an “elimination diet,” which meant saying no to meat, potatoes, soy, sugar, dairy, eggs, coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, wheat, peppers, corn, aubergine – you name it.
All that were ok were lettuce and quinoa. We can only hope that oxygen wasn’t restricted, although that may explain what is still to come.
I have no idea what any of these restrictions have to do with Junger’s original diagnosis. A blood parasite doesn’t give a freaking thing about what you eat, blood poisoning from heavy metals has to be treated with chelation therapy and a congested liver is an indication of heart failure.
That Junger never cares to name the heavy metals or the blood parasite (and their list isn’t that long) smells of the same detox quackery that we have seen tons of times before. Or, as Yoni Freedhoff told MacLeans, Junger’s treatment ideas “at best can be described as non evidence-based hope, and at worst, as plain old malpractice.”
But Gwyneth felt better afterwards and in her book she now wants the rest of the world to share the goodness with a nutrition style modeled after Junger’s guidelines, modified by what she deems ok and fitting.
Let us give her the benefit of doubt and say that – despite an absence of even the slightest glimmer of scientific evidence that any of the diagnosis and treatment really had something to do with what she suffered from – she really found the solution to “look and feel good.”
Unfortunately, even if it works, most people won’t be able to afford it. The “easy” recipes the book’s subtitle promises carry names like “Hummus Tartine with Scallion-Mint Pesto” or “Salmon Burger with Pickled Ginger.” They require ingredients like “organic manuka honey” ($24.95 for 12 oz.), Cup4Cup gluten-free flour (~$35 for 3 lbs.) and Maldon Sea Salt ($10.20 for 8.75 oz). The gossip queens over at Yahoo! Shine calculated that without a problem you can spend $300 / day following Paltrow’s recipes.
To be fair, not all the recipes are expensive or complicated. There also is one for salted popcorn (pg. 243, ingredients: corn, oil, salt), as well as for a hard-boiled egg (pg. 279, ingredients: an egg), with detailed instructions on how to boil it.
Deciphering the reasoning behind choosing this mixture of recipes and ingredients is up to you. Paltrow doesn’t go through the trouble of explaining it. At best you’ll get an “Alejandro says…” which leaves you as clueless as before. I still try to find out why “vegenaise” (Paltrow gorges in the vile stuff) is better than regular mayonnaise.
Poor Rich Girl
I admit, it’s very easy to make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow. Very many have already done it and I couldn’t entirely say no to the impulse either.
Yet I don’t think she knowingly misleads to cash in, like many other diet book writers, who do know better and don’t care. It’s much rather that she apparently fears food yet fetishizes it. The entire attitude spells out orthorexia. When a person like that writes a tome on nutrition, the result is something like It’s All Good, that makes no sense to anyone outside the writer’s head.
As you aren’t in Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, you are better off looking for another diet book. This one likely only works for her. Her, that is, and the good “Alejandro,” who successfully put an insecure woman on course and now rides in the wake of her fame.
Picture courtesy of Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias.