Family Matters

It’s All Good…Or Maybe Not. Gwyneth Paltrow Limits the Carbs Her Kids Eat

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Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / WireImage

Paltrow reveals her latest diet decisions in her new cookbook. And they don’t include some of children’s favorite comfort foods.

Feeding children is a weighty topic. On one hand, there are too many kids who are now overweight or obese. On the other hand, plenty of tweens and teens develop eating disorders. As parents, we’re urged to feed our kids good food, and we all think we know what that means: whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and lean protein.

But there’s more to life than quinoa and kale. Take bread, rice and pasta, for example. In most kitchens, they’re not considered archenemy edibles. Yet actress Gwyneth Paltrow recently stirred up a flurry of controversy by suggesting in her upcoming cookbook It’s All Good that she’s limiting the number of carbs in her kids’ diet .

The reason, according to the Daily Mail, is that her family can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in grains.

Her decision was based on the fact that everyone in her house — including husband Chris Martin — is apparently intolerant of gluten, dairy and chicken’s eggs.

Miss Paltrow’s comments are an admission that her habit of going for the latest fad diet is filtering down to how she behaves as a mother.

It’s not clear whether Paltrow’s family has celiac disease — in which gluten can inflame and damage the lining of the gut — or whether they’re simply jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon. In recent years, gluten-free diets have become popular even among those not affected by the condition as a way to lose weight, eat healthier and “cleanse.” Plenty of experts have cast doubt on the effectiveness of such an approach, however.

Regardless, it looks like mac and cheese won’t be on the menu much for Apple, 8, and Moses, 6, according to their mother, who appears to acknowledge in the cookbook that it’s tough to cut carbohydrates: “Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains like white rice, we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs.”

MORE: It’s the Calories, Stupid: Weight Gain Depends on How Much — Not What — You Eat

Without a doubt, Paltrow is sure she’s doing right by her kids. But is she? According to licensed dietitian Shelly Summar, the answer is probably not. 

There’s no reason to avoid carbohydrates completely; they are one of three energy-containing nutrients, along with protein and fat. They’re packed into undeniably healthy products such as fruits, milk, whole grains and vegetables. But cutting out highly processed carbohydrates — cookies, cake, candy, brownies – does make some healthy sense. “When you talk about eliminating carbs, that’s a very general statement,” says Summar. “It’s hard to figure out what they’re doing, but if Gwyneth Paltrow says she’s eliminating all carbs, that means she’s cutting out things that have a lot of nutrition in them.”

If she’s kissing junky pastries goodbye, however, it might be something everyone should consider.

As with so many diets, however, people can go to the extreme. I cringe at serving white rice to my kids when brown rice can provide them with more fiber and protein. But my son flat-out refuses the brown stuff. Summar pointed out that it’s not that white rice is unhealthy; it’s still nutritious, but just doesn’t pack as much good-for-you ingredients as brown rice. And it’s still better than potato chips. So “one thing we should do is try not to get caught up in fads,” says Summar, who is weight management program coordinator at Children’s Mercy Hospitals in Kansas City, Mo.

(MORECalorie vs. Calorie: Study Evaluates Three Diets for Staying Slim)

Why do many kids prefer white over wheat in the first place? Is it a taste issue? Possibly, but it might also have something to do with a baby’s first taste of “solid food,” which is, typically, white rice cereal. In 2011, Stanford pediatrician Alan Greene called for a “WhiteOut” — a farewell to white rice cereal and a hello to better replacements. Babies get the bulk of their calories in their first year of life from processed white rice baby cereal; he advocates subbing brown rice cereal or actual food, such as mashed avocado or sweet potato.

wrote about Green’s idea in a Healthland post:

Greene worries that introducing babies to refined food as their first foray into the world of solid food will anchor their taste buds in the processed-food camp, dooming them to a life of unhealthy — or not-as-healthy — choices.

At an age when babies can’t talk back and demand cookies instead of cauliflower — they’re essentially culinary prisoners in their high chairs — why not offer them food with more nutritional value?

Meanwhile, researchers have found that Paltrow may not be alone in her quest: kids are eating fewer carbohydrates than they used to, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that doesn’t mean they’re shunning pasta or toast; they may be cutting back on sugar-sweetened drinks, which are high in carbohydrates as well.

(MOREStudy: Does Eating White Rice Raise Your Risk of Diabetes?)

Still, that’s an encouraging trend. The key to promoting healthy eating habits in children, say experts, is not to teach them to avoid or cut out certain foods, but to preach moderation. “What’s bad, especially with kids, is when we get too rigid and start eliminating foods or food groups,” she says. “Kids are growing. If you become too rigid, you run the risk of creating nutritional deficiencies and stunting their growth. It’s a fine line and you have to be careful about that as parents,” says Summar. Maybe Paltrow had it right in the title of her book: It’s All Good.

35 comments
KittyReum
KittyReum

what happen to eating right, you know common sense. moderation on sugar, carb, and other stuff. it don't make you bad parent if children have a treat like  cupcake or mac n cheese once in awhile. parent need tell the child the difference when its ok to have a treat and when not too. parents want a healthy child of course. i know a mother,it drives me crazy how she feed them. they eat somewhat good, about 20% and 80% not so great. lots of salt, sugar,caffeine, dyes, and process foods. they get fast food 2-3x week as well. ugh when i say dyes it can trigger some behavioural issues, not all dyes it red, yellow, and blue. if we just eat sensible, i don't mean go on diets but life style change like getting recommended sleep, eating right like eat breakfast, that start metabolism,  then eat small portion rather then big, exercising according to you not what others do what might work for them may not work for you.the problem is every1 so worry what others are doing and how they feed their child, dont just focus on your needs and your children. last thing  gluten intolerance is a real condition i know i have troubles eating gluten foods. in the end just eat right by common sense.

Larab83
Larab83

when did we all become gluten intolerant? I guess I didn't get the memo.....

BrianaBriseno
BrianaBriseno

The truth of the matter is, that while Paltrow can control what her children eat while they are under her supervision there will be times in which they are out of her sight and out of her control. When this time comes her children will be faced with larger food choices than what she is currently presenting to them. These food choices may have no carbohydrates, may be low in carbohydrates, or have very high carbohydrate content. What I find most concerning is, "What will happen when her children are placed into a situation where they are able to eat the foods that have a large amount of carbohydrates?"

In a study presented by “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” two groups of children were either given palatable foods or restricted from the palatable foods. The results of this study displayed that the children that were restricted from eating palatable foods had all their focus and attention only on the restricted foods. They also showed an increase in the desire to obtain and consume the palatable foods.

Research shows that when restriction occurs with certain foods the person will have cycles of binging. The binging will bring on large amounts of excessive calories and in the case of Paltrow’s children excessive calories as well as carbohydrates. So much that it might exceed double or maybe even triple the amount of carbohydrates if their food intake were being regulated. With this I find it very worrisome to imagine what might happen when the children have the opportunity to eat the Mac and Cheese, blueberry muffins, waffles or even ice cream.

Paltrow having her children on a low carbohydrate diet is not the correct way of raising her children. With binging on the high carbohydrate foods, something that they are destined to do, it may bring forth future consequences. The consequences are likely to be high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. These health outcomes, I am sure, are what she is trying to avoid by having them on a low carbohydrate diet. However, as research shows restriction of foods have the opposite outcome of what she is striving for with her children.

Reference: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Restricting access to palatable foods affects children's behavioral response, food selection, and intake1,2,3. Jennifer Fisher and Leann Birch 1999

NoahAbbey
NoahAbbey

I think that most people are not aware that gluten intolerance is a real condition.  It is not Celiac, it is non-celiac gluten intolerance.  The article says that it is "not clear" whether Gwyneth and her family are celiac or not.  She doesn't claim that they are Celiac...they are gluten intolerant!  I myself am gluten intolerant, so I understand the confusion that most people have about gluten.  We are not abstaining carbs and joining some sort of new health fad....this is REAL.   Also, I would not believe the words of a nutritionist who has been brain washed into her beliefs by the dairy, grain and meat industry.  There is a really good book out on the bestseller list right now called Wheat Belly...you will completely see why Gwyneth, like so many others, have made the choice not to consume gluten containing foods.

JohnGroft
JohnGroft

Why is it that, when someone says 'low carb', everyone assumes they mean 'no carb?'  Assuming the title and the first statement in the article are correct, all Gwyneth as said is that she's limiting the carbs her kids eat.  That is NOT the same thing as eliminating carbs completely.  Carbs from natural sources (not refined carbs like cookies, candies, cakes, pies, breads, etc.) can be healthy.  Just like fats and proteins, some are better than others.  How does this make her a bad mom?

mkb
mkb

Gwyenth is great she is a good scientist, why do we need carbs at all? do Carnivores eat carbs they do survive. No carbs means no obesity thats great. But only problem is the world is filled with variety of carb dishes and it is so intoxicating too can the kids control??

EddyDuryea
EddyDuryea

@TIME: Why Gwyneth Paltrow's extreme diet means no mac and cheese for her kids | ti.me\/1036DzCSQ0” it's ok gwyneth, I care

souzou_no
souzou_no

@TIME NO MORE MAC N CHEESE. Can we say mommy dearest in the making?

sarabarrow
sarabarrow

Starting new charity for her kids RT@TIME: Why Gwyneth Paltrow's extreme diet means no mac and cheese for her kids | ti.me\/1036DzCJAb

KarrieThorne
KarrieThorne

“%s: Why Gwyneth Paltrow's extreme diet means no mac and cheese for her kids | %sh%sors

dvarets
dvarets

@TIME By the way try real cheese instead of processed rubber.

dvarets
dvarets

@TIME If America would adopt a healthy diet instead of denuding the rainforest with its demand for junk food.No Mac for me.

SMichelleCline
SMichelleCline

No Mac n Cheese ?!? “%s: Why Gwyneth Paltrow's extreme diet means no mac and cheese for her kids | %sYZ%sror

miteshdesai
miteshdesai

“%s: Why Gwyneth Paltrow's extreme diet means no mac and cheese for her kids | %skH%sary

zaglossus
zaglossus

This is from a woman who in her most recent cookbook has a "recipe" for ONE hard boiled egg!!!

AbbyJ
AbbyJ

@BrianaBriseno There's not enough information in the article to determine if she's really severely limiting carbs, or choosing alternative sources. And also, the average American eats far more carbs than are required. 

In my household, we eat very few grain-based carbs. When we do eat grain, it's usually rice. We eat quinoa (which is NOT actually a grain), sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc. Those things are more nutrient-dense than grains. We do substitutes for a lot of things: Instead of pasta, we use zucchini & yellow squash.  Instead of bread crumbs, we use almond meal. Etc.

AbbyJ
AbbyJ

@IamCourtneyKay @SMichelleCline Not a childhood because she prefers to feed her kids healthier options instead of junk food? There are other "comfort foods" besides mac & cheese, for example, pho is a Vietnamese comfort food, and healthier than mac & cheese. Just because someone does something differently than you doesn't mean it's bad. Kids don't need to "kid food", they can eat the same things as adults. My sister's kids were raised eating many different foods, even before they were school-aged they would eat Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese, etc. cuisines; that's much more refreshing (and healthy!) than seeing kids living on mac & cheese and hot dogs. Sure, they occasionally got mac & cheese, but they would much rather have something like clams & mussels.

SMichelleCline
SMichelleCline

%s probably rice cakes or something terrifying! %s