It’s All Good, Gwyneth

I recently bought Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, “It’s All Good” for my mom, and I couldn’t resist flipping through it before I gave it to her.

Gwyneth has received so much negative press about this book that I just had to see what all the fuss was about.

One article I read claimed that she’s starving her kids by forcing them to avoid wheat and dairy.

The truth: She had her entire family tested and they all tested positive for wheat, dairy and egg intolerances, which makes sense as these foods are some of the most popular allergens. I think any good mom would cut these foods out of their kids’ diets if they were making them sick.

Other critics are giving Gwyneth a hard time for being so strict with her diet, and say it’s extreme and unhealthy.

The truth: She starts the book by explaining the situation that caused her to change her diet. One day as she was serving lunch to her family, she started to shake and almost fainted. She had had a severe migraine and panic attack.  These were reactions to her food intolerances. She was tested and it turned out, “I was severely anemic; I was vitamin D deficient, my liver was very congested, my stress levels were sky-high…there was a lot of inflammation in my system and my hormones were off.”

These are all symptoms of food intolerances, and built-up toxins in the body. Many people live with this all the time, and may not experience extreme symptoms like Gwyneth’s, but instead always feel sick, enervated or “off.”

Her doctor put her on an elimination diet (good doctor!): no coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deepwater fish, no potatoes, no tomatoes, no bell pepper, no eggplant, no corn, no wheat, no meat, no soy, nothing processed at all.” These are common foods to eliminate when one has severe food intolerances as they are all common allergens. Foods are then re-introduced one at a time to see which ones are causing symptoms.

This is exactly how I would help a client who came to me with a story similar to Gwyneth’s. I wouldn’t consider her diet unhealthy or extreme, and it’s strict because it has to be. Do we criticize the diets of people with celiac disease? It’s a healthy diet that works for her, and she now feels great.

While I really enjoyed the book I have a few criticisms of my own. (Sorry Gwyneth):

Too much soy

At the beginning of the book, she includes a section on soy, stressing the importance of buying non-GMO. (Soy is one of the top genetically modified foods in the world, and it’s in everything!) She also talks about how soy contains phytoestrogens or plant estrogens, which can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. This can lead to hormonal imbalance, which can affect fertility and increase risk of certain types of cancer.

After reading this preface and considering the fact that soy is a very common allergen, I was surprised to see quite a bit of soy in her recipes. She frequently includes soy sauce, soy milk and “Vegenaise” (a soy-based version of mayo).

Soy does have some health benefits and if you enjoy it I would recommend organic/non-GMO and fermented soy products such as Miso. Consume it in moderation, no more than once per week.

All gluten-free

Avoiding gluten completely is not necessary if you don’t have gluten sensitivity. That being said, gluten can be difficult to digest since it’s a sticky protein, so it doesn’t hurt to avoid it from time to time. It’s also a great way to experiment with some great gluten-free food, such as coconut flour, brown rice pasta and quinoa

What this book provides:

– Recipe ideas for people who struggle with food allergies.

– A great guide for anyone who wants to try a detox for a short period of time. For the most part, the recipes don’t include red meat. (Gwyneth doesn’t eat red meat, but the co-author does.) While goat and sheep milk are included, as they have smaller protein particles and are easier to digest, cow dairy is not. Refined sugar, gluten, processed food, alcohol and caffeine aren’t included either. Eliminating these foods for a period of time decreases the body’s toxic load, and can result in weight loss, improved mood, clear skin, healthy digestion, increased energy, improved sleep, and increased libido.

– A great assortment of healthy recipes ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks and dessert.

– Awesome information about an assortment of healthy foods for those who want to start making changes to their diet. (It even includes sample meal plans at the back!)

What this book isn’t

– The holy grail of how to eat healthy. It’s what works for Gwyneth Paltrow. Nutrition is completely individual. Everyone has different body chemistry, likes, dislikes and schedules. This cookbook has great ideas for healthy recipes if you want to cut back on red meat, gluten, dairy and sugar, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut these foods out completely if you’re not intolerant to them.

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