There’s a peculiar irony in naming a cookbook It’s All Good and including recipes that deny the use of ingredients most of us would describe as “good”.
You know, sugar, dairy, wheat, alcohol, red meat, and so on. Gwyneth Paltrow, that great patroness of self-denial, has produced the aforementioned It’s All Good. The Hollywood actress, it has been said in the past, eats naked in front of a mirror, follows a strict macrobiotic diet and has kale shakes while all around are guzzling down lattés. If we take the usual measurement of 70 per cent of what’s written about celebrities being hokum, she’s a bit of a foodie control freak. But then, if I was being filmed in high-def, from all angles, wearing a swimsuit, I might put down the glazed doughnut, too.
In diversifying her career to take in movies and (that nebulous thing) lifestyle, she writes and blogs about food. And now, in efforts to publicise this new cookbook, Paltrow has been quoted as saying that she denies her family carbohydrates and, as a result, “we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs”.
She might as well have said that she encourages little Apple (9) to do the 5:2 fasting diet, or gets Moses (6) to slip a honeyed mouse down his throat after every meal, to judge by the reaction. “She’s starving her children!” bellow the headlines.
Let’s hold that thought.
The full quote starts with the word “Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains like white rice…” but that’s been conveniently sidelined. It’s undoubtedly true that children need carbohydrates – just like all the other food groups – to help them grow. They need to replace the energy they expend Tiggering around. But do they need white bread, mountains of pasta pesto and bags of crisps? No. Do they need a Chinese ready-meal with dazzlingly white rice? No.
Obesity, let’s remember, is far more prevalent and damaging than this so-called “starvation” – even if that’s what it were, which it’s not. We all know that children – even the ones belonging to movie- and rock-star parents – eat pizza and burgers and the like when they go to parties. They seek out junk food – we did, didn’t we? – and a responsible parent provides balance. Note her use of the word “sometimes”, too.
A cursory glance at Ms Paltrow’s recipe output reveals that there is stodge, it’s just the starry kind that most of us buy, sigh over, and never cook, such as red rice, sweet potatoes and cannellini beans. Oh, for a private chef.
So, not that she needs it, let’s cut Gwyneth some slack. Dieticians and doctors advise us to start eating only when we identify hunger (more usually it’s thirst) and stop eating when we feel satiated. It sounds more palatable coming from a bloke in a white coat than a star in a white designer dress, I guess.