Actress Gwyneth Paltrow appears to be the latest celebrity Migraineur lambasted by a public and media that tend to completely misunderstand the nature of Migraine Disease.
Paltrow recently released her second cookbook, It’s All Good, which features sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. The book’s recipes were developed during an elimination diet she followed at her doctor’s recommendation after experiencing a scary episode she thought was a stroke.
Paltrow was actually experiencing a Migraine attack, not a stroke. As a result, her doctor recommended she try an elimination diet, which is a common tool for trying to prevent Migraine attacks.
Paltrow cut out coffee, alcohol, dairy, eggs, sugar, shellfish, deep-water fish, wheat, meat, soy and processed foods during her elimination diet. While this list varies somewhat from the list of foods typically recommended for a migraine elimination diet, there is definitely much overlap. As many of us who’ve contemplated or tried elimination diets can relate to, Paltrow feared her diet would be boring and bland. So she started developing recipes to combat those challenges.
As a result of the elimination diet and testing, Paltrow discovered she is gluten sensitive. Gluten sensitivity has been associated with headache disorders in research studies. In one recently published study researchers found that 56% of gluten sensitive patients lived with chronic headaches, while 48% lived with Migraine attacks, the majority of which were categorized as “Very Severe.” She also learned she was anemic and Vitamin D deficient.
Lots of nasty articles and comments have floated around online, but the worst I saw was from the New York Post, which said:
“The book reads like the manifesto to some sort of creepy healthy-girl sorority with members who use beet juice rather than permanent marker to circle the ‘problem areas’ on each other’s bodies.”
How ignorant is that? Any attempt to research Migraine Disease and elimination diets would have informed this writer and her editors that this is a completely mainstream approach to management of Migraine. I am aware the New York Post’s tone tends toward the snarky, but the quoted passage is stigmatizing and disgusting.
As my friend so wisely said on Facebook (a non-Migraineur, by the way), no one would be criticizing this at all if the actress in question was curvy or full figured. They’d be thrilled she finally decided to make herself socially acceptable. But then it’s not exactly a surprise that our society has ridiculous body image issues. We hate the large girl because she doesn’t fit our standards and the thin girl because she does. And sadly, Migraine isn’t considered a serious enough condition to warrant a specialized diet.
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1. Kristene Quan, "Why Don’t People Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cookbook?", Time Magazine, March 14, 2013, http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/03/14/why-dont-people-like-gwyneth-paltrows-new-cookbook/#ixzz2PH7Hr0hx, accessed April 1, 2013. 2. 3. Zayda Rivera, "Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook reveals her kids’ low-carb diet that leaves them with ‘that specific hunger’," New York Daily News, March 13, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/gwyneth-paltrow-new-book-cooks-carb-controversy-article-1.1287713#ixzz2PHCxtZHw, accessed April 1, 2013. 3. Haley Eber, "Paltrow’s new dairy-, gluten- and sugar-free cookbook is a recipe for ridicule," New York Post, March 12, 2013, http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/food/starved_for_attention_CkQoljEkRWx1rnIQ6ObG7J, accessed April 1, 2013. 4. Gwyneth Paltrow, "It's All Good," (Grand Central Life & Style, 2013).