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Celebrities and the Cleanse Diet

I’m not sure what it is about celebrities and cleansing but it has become quite fashionable to “detox.” Celebs are doing everything from the Lemonade Diet to the Maple Syrup Diet to the Cayenne Pepper Diet. Recently, 2 major stars prescribed eliminating gluten as part of their cleanse diets. Upon further inspection, however, both their diet plans actually contained gluten!

Oprah wrote a blog describing her 21-Day Cleanse in which she attempted to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products from her diet. According to her blog and the blog of her coworker who also did the diet, they ate seitan, which is pure wheat gluten, and Morningstar veggie sausages, which list gluten as the first ingredient, and also have egg and milk (while they were supposed to be on a vegan diet also). I say this not to come down on Oprah — she did the diet as directed and stuck with it for 21 days as planned. I just think it’s strange that as much as her diet planners and chefs probably get paid, and as much publicity as this got, they didn’t even get the diet right! Next time hire me, Oprah! (And by the way, O, you should probably be gluten-free given your weight fluctuations, thyroid disease, and exhaustion — I’m just saying.)

And then there’s Gwyneth Paltrow. She publishes a pretty cool website and newsletter called GOOP in which she shares her ideas on what to MAKE, where to GO, what to GET, what to DO, how to BE and what to SEE. Nice ideas and you kind of feel like Gwyneth’s friend-in-the-know. This month in her MAKE newsletter she talks about her detox diet and includes menus to follow. Here are the rules of the diet: “remember that there can be no dairy, grains with gluten, meat, shellfish, anything processed (including all soy products), fatty nuts, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant), condiments, sugar and obviously no alcohol, caffeine or soda.”

Upon inspection of Gwyneth’s very-detailed diet and recipes, I found that gluten was on the menu 5 of the 7 days in the form of barley miso. I don’t get it — do they not know that barley is gluten? Also, there was supposed to be no dairy on the detox diet, but it was on the menu every day in the form of whey-protein fortified powder added to smoothies. Whey is dairy. Again… if you need help creating an elimination diet plan, Gwyneth, I’m only a phone call away!

Detox or cleanse diets are “in.” It’s no wonder that people feel better when they do a diet that happens to eliminate gluten as part of it. The Low-Carb diet used to be popular, and guess what you cut out when you cut carbs? Gluten! I have known so many people who did the low-carb or no-carb thing and rave about how much better they feel. To me it is clear that it is because they are eating less gluten, to which a lot of people are intolerant.

For some reason it is easier for people to accept and admit not eating carbs than not eating gluten. If you don’t eat carbs, people are impressed that you are on a weight loss kick and they are even a little jealous of your discipline not to eat muffins. If you don’t eat gluten, people think you are a weird health nut freak and wonder why you would impose such a horribly restrictive diet upon yourself. Maybe the word “gluten” just isn’t cool enough for people. Maybe we need to start calling the gluten-free diet something else… it would go like this:

SOMEONE:  “Why can’t you eat that?”
ME (in the voice of Tina Fey):  “Cuz I’m doin’ this no g-carb thing.”
SOMEONE:  “Cool.”

So go ahead and cleanse, detox, go low-carb, or call your elimination diet whatever you want. The important thing is to pay attention to how your body feels once the foods are removed. If you feel a whole lot better, you may have an intolerance to something that you probably eat every day. Add the foods back in one at a time, slowly, not all at once, and see if you can figure out what is not agreeing with you. Be highly suspect of some of the most common problem foods: gluten, dairy, soy. And if one of these diets leads you to an answer and to better health, then I guess they’re not so bad after all.

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