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  • By Janet Helm, MS, RDN

Let’s Rewrite the Brand of Wellness

It was the podcast interview heard around the world. Or so it seems.

In case you missed it, Gwyneth Paltrow joined The Art of Being Well podcast with Dr. Will Cole to talk about her daily “wellness routine.”

Gwyneth Paltrow Diet Controversy

With an IV drip hooked up to her arm, Gwyneth said she drinks only coffee in the morning, followed by bone broth at noon, and then lots of vegetables for dinner to fit her Paleo diet and to support her “detox.”

She praised the benefits of intermittent fasting to Dr. Cole,” a chiropractor who runs functional medicine telehealth centers. He’s also the author of “Intuitive Fasting,” an oxymoron-sounding book with a forward written by Gwyneth.

Almost immediately after clips of the interview began circulating on social media, people were outraged – including me. Media outlets widely criticized her dangerous diet, comparing it to preparation for a colonoscopy.

The interview went viral on TikTok, with many people calling her the “mother of all almond moms,” a derogatory term that refers to a parent who is prone to body shaming and is emblematic of a culture obsessed with beauty and thinness.

My registered dietitian colleagues were out in full force on TikTok -- stitching the clip with warnings of this restrictive diet that was romancing an eating disorder.

I especially liked the TikTok of Julian de Medeiros (@julianphilosophy) who brought a psychoanalyst’s perspective on the Goop founder’s interview.

He said Gwyneth’s diet was the perfect example of negative identity, or when you stand for all the things you don’t do. The risk of denying the body is that you can become what French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called “denial embodied,” he explained.

In Julian’s TikTok, he said it was painful to see that this is being advocated as a form of wellness because wellness shouldn’t be saying I’ve reduced my life to a kind of marker of denial. It shouldn’t be viewed through the lens of what you don’t do or don’t buy. Even “healthy” food doesn’t feature what it has, but tells you all the bad things that are not in it, he says.

Instead, Julian says life should be about what you do, what you believe in, and what you embrace. He wants people to move away from this repressed idea that we think we’re being good by means of denying ourselves the very things that make life beautiful, joyful, and worth living.

That’s an approach to wellness that I can support.

Janet Helm, MS, RDN

Janet Helm, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist, global food culture analyst, and food and travel journalist.

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