The Internet is abuzz about Gwyneth Paltrow's low-carb, gluten-free diet, but not because she and hubby, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, are on it. It sounds like their children could be on it too — and they may be hungry.
“Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains … we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs,” the actress writes in her new cookbook, It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, set for release April 2.
Paltrow’s latest diet, according to the book, contains nothing processed (and, if you ask us, nothing fun): no coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, no soy. From what we can tell, it's not a strict, full-time diet, but rather one Paltrow turns to whenever she feels she needs it," according to the publisher's description of the book.
I’ll admit, my first reaction was to think about poor Apple and Moses, 8 and 6 respectively, never having the joy of cramming cake and ice cream into their mouths at a birthday party or giggling while sucking down crazy-long strands of spaghetti. Or worse, I pictured them curled up in a ball in bed night clenching their stomachs and dreaming of pizza.
Then I came to my senses: Gwynnie’s kids aren’t starving. They’re just eating seafood and vegetables for dinner some nights. Her cookbook includes recipes for salmon burgers, banana “ice cream” and brownies.
And then I thought, hey, maybe she’s onto something. She says in her book that “Every single nutritionist, doctor and health-conscious person I have ever come across … seems to concur that (gluten) is tough on the system and many of us are at best intolerant of it and at worst allergic to it.”
Here’s what I found out about gluten and carbs and kids:
Truth #1: One in 133 Americans likely has the gluten-allergy celiac disease and as many as 1 in 20 Americans may suffer from a gluten sensitivity, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many parents with children on the autism disorder spectrum have eliminated gluten (along with casein, a protein found in mammals’ milk) from their kids’ diets, and at least one study shows that it may help. However, putting children on a gluten-free diet could deprive their growing bodies of a wide variety of nutrients, particularly folate and iron, and that could lead to long- and short-term health issues, low energy and bad behavior, leading nutritionist Karen Ansel tells Parenting.com. If you do go gluten-free, you'll need to swap in foods that contain the nutrients that are missed, she says.
Truth #2: Carbs are the body’s most important source of energy. Without them, we'd all be listless and lethargic. "Parents should absolutely not put their children on a low-carb diet," Ansel says. "That said, carb quality is key." All carbs are not created equal. There are simples ones (like those found in fruits and come with names like fructose, glucose and lactose) and complex ones (grains, starchy vegetables, breads, etc.) Some carbs are healthier than others, for instance: whole grains, brown rice, fruits/veggies, beans and low-fat dairy. "These food groups can easily supply all the high quality carbs children need, it's just a matter of making sure they are on the table at every meal," Ansel says. "Parents don't need to feel guilty about limiting highly processed refined carbs from foods like chips, pretzels, cookies, cake and cracker."
Truth #3: Our kids shouldn’t be overloading on carbs. A day fueled by sugary cereal for breakfast, PB&J for lunch followed by mac and cheese for dinner, is not doing our kids any favors. A bit of good news: The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that kids are consuming fewer carbs now than back in 1999. The kid-health experts at Nemours say that healthy diet for children ages 2 and up should include 50 percent to 60 percent of calories from healthy carbs. Healthy carbs are the ones mentioned above, not added sugar or processed foods. "While sweet treats or processed carbs are OK for special occasions, they don't deliver the nutrition tha kids need," Ansel says.
So, what do you think? Is Gwynnie cray-cray or clever? Do you monitor your kids’ carb intake or have you eliminated gluten? Share your story.