News Analysis

Thursday 2 October 2014

Gwyneth serves up a side order of smugness

Claire O'Mahony

Published 15/03/2013 | 05:00

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It's just too easy to hold Gwyneth up as an object of ridicule
Gwyneth has revealed how she's also now putting Apple, eight, and Moses, six on a carb free diet
Gwyneth Paltrow: ""Mealtimes should always feel happy. Not like a punishment"

Why liking her is becoming too hard...

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SOME celebrities really, really want us to like them. Take Anne Hathaway. The 'Les Miserables' star was said to be so concerned about the backlash against her over-emotional and slightly embarrassing Golden Globes and BAFTA acceptance speeches that it's alleged she practised hard for when the time came to collect her Oscar statue.

The same cannot be said of Gwyneth Paltrow – actress, rock-star wife, mother of two, wannabe lifestyle guru and now author of a new cook book peddling yet some more of the dubious dietary suggestions that have become her hallmark. In terms of likeability, her game is weak.

It's just too easy to hold Gwyneth up as an object of ridicule. After all, this is the woman who suggests on her lifestyle website goop.com (whose mission statement is that it nourishes the inner aspect and which at times is beyond parody) that $240 (€185) towels will make your life better and that chia seed pudding is an easy and nutritious start to the day. Because we all need really useful tips from a privileged, rich and famous celebrity, don't we?

The ways in which goop patronisingly offends – the gold brogue shoe for sale on the website for $750 (€579); the pictures of her getting ready for the Oscars with Cameron Diaz; her insider's guide to the Hamptons – are many. But she's been at this for four years now and appears immune to any annoyance that the sharing of her perfect existence generates.

Gwyneth's latest effort to improve the lives of ordinary folk is a collection of recipes called 'It's All Good: delicious, easy, recipes that will make you look good and feel great'. Its inspiration was a health scare last year, where she thought she was possibly having a stroke, but discovered that she was actually stressed, anaemic and vitamin D deficient.

As the 'New York Post' said in its eviscerating review of 'It's All Good...': "When we mere mortals feel faint and off-kilter and fear we're having a major health emergency, and really we've just gotten too much sun or had too little to eat, we file away our crazy little moment among our embarrassing stories shared only with close friends and family. But when Gwyneth Paltrow has such an episode, she writes a cookbook." Indeed.

The apparent solution to her health woes was to embark upon a diet eliminating coffee, alcohol, dairy, eggs, shellfish, deep-water fish, wheat, soy and anything processed. Concerned that this way of eating would make mealtimes interminably dull, she teamed up with her friend, Julia Turshen, to present to the world this collection of 185 recipes that followed her doctor's dietary guidelines. Essentially, this is a book about things that Gwyneth doesn't eat.

"Mealtimes should always feel happy. Not like a punishment," she writes, to the perplexity of those of us who never thought that breakfast lunch or dinner was ever meant to be treated as some form of penance. This is not the statement of an avowed foodie, which Gwyneth proclaims herself to be, having previously written a best-selling cookbook, 'Notes From My Kitchen Table' and made a TV series where she made a culinary trip around Spain.

The actress blames an excess of French fries and wine for causing her health problems, but it's very hard to imagine her ever horsing into Mickey Ds and vats of Pinot Grigio, no matter what she says. It's difficult not to question whether or not it was her supposed over-indulgences, or her previous hard-core eating regimes that have led her to this place. She followed a super-strict macrobiotic diet in her twenties and likes to start her year with three-week detox, although this year she couldn't actually face doing one and decided to focus on eating more superfoods (blueberries, cruciferous vegetables (lettuce to you and me), dark chocolate, spinach, walnuts, beans, avocado, wild salmon and chia seeds) instead, as you do.

There's no doubt that Gwyneth takes her crusade to make the rest of us thinner, more beautiful, healthier fabulous people seriously, so we must acknowledge that she is well-meaning if misguided. And if you would like your recipes for gluten- and dairy-free Korean chicken tacos and power brownies served with a side order of smugness, by all means go and buy the book, which is out early next month.

Irish Independent

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