These days, diets could almost be split in two camps: those who are gluten free and those who aren’t. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, “The Hunger Games” actress Jennifer Lawrence puts herself firmly in the bread-and-pasta crowd, telling writer Sam Kashner she ate spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast the day of their interview. She goes on to describe gluten-free as “the new cool eating disorder, the ‘basically I just don’t eat carbs.’”
Her stance could be seen as throwing shade at Gwyneth Paltrow, the ex-wife of Lawrence’s rumored boyfriend, Chris Martin. Paltrow is almost as famous for her healthy eating as she is for her acting and recently published a cookbook of her favorite gluten-free recipes, It’s All Good. "Everyone in my family is intolerant to gluten and cow dairy," Paltrow told integrative physician Dr. Frank Lipman of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York when the book was released. "We had the food sensitivities test and the doctor told us to avoid these foods and sugar as much as possible.”
Willow Jarosh, RD, who runs C&J Nutrition in New York with Stephanie Clarke, RD, tells Yahoo Style that Lawrence may have a point, but it’s incorrect to characterize everyone avoiding gluten as having an eating disorder. “Cutting out any large category of food can be a red flag that someone may be headed towards disordered eating or an eating disorder,” she says. “However, we’d say that the reason for cutting out the food category matters more than the actual category, in this case. For instance, if someone is having digestive discomfort but has tested negative for celiac disease and is now experimenting with cutting certain foods from their diet — but is still eating enough overall and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet — that wouldn’t indicate a potentially dangerous relationship with food. If someone is slowly cutting out various categories of foods without replacing them with alternatives, then that would signal a potential problem regarding their relationship with food and potential disordered eating.”
Jarosh also cautions that going gluten free “isn’t a golden ticket to weight loss.” That might happen in the short term — starchy foods tend to be the easiest to eat too much of — but there are so many gluten-free versions of cereals, breads, cookies, and cakes that, once you discover them, could also make you overindulge. “A better approach would be to cut out highly processed or refined carbs and focus on getting your carbohydrates from fruit, starchy veggies, whole grains, and beans,” she says.
Ironically, anyone who gets too healthy with their diet could also be putting themselves at risk for developing a different eating disorder: Orthorexia nervosa. It's an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy or, literally, "fixation on righteous eating." The term was coined by Steven Bratman, MD, to describe his own experience, but is not yet officially recognized disorder in the DSM-V.