Stressing over hard to swallow celebrity diets has got to stop

We need to stop beating ourselves up that we don’t have the clinched waists of the A-listers. Writer Rebecca Harrington couldn’t stomach their eating habits for long says Arlene Harris

THIS week, we’ve been poring over pictures of the ‘impossibly’ thin and beautiful Amal Clooney at the Golden Globe awards.

Also on the red carpet was actress Sienna Miller who popped out a child and then popped back to her elfin self and actress Julianne Moore who, in her 50s, has a face and body for which girls in their teens would foresake their phone.

Celebrity-watching is a depressing sport — especially when we are all hellbent on starting the year with shopping trollies laden with fruit and vegetables, trainers back out of the wardrobe, and our gym memberships renewed.

So, how do celebrities do it? What do they eat to stay slim?

Well, one American author decided to eat what the rich and famous eat, and to find out whether their diets are remotely feasible.

I’ll Have What She’s Having chronicles the eating adventures of New-York writer, Rebecca Harrington, as she lives the bizarre, often inedible and illuminating diets of various celebrities, living and dead.

From Madonna’s sea vegetables to Marilyn Monroe’s raw eggs with milk, this brave (and ravenous) dieter reveals what the stars endure to maintain their allure.

Greta Garbo

Stressing over hard to swallow celebrity diets has got to stop

This Hollywood legend was renowned for wanting to be alone and, if her strict diet is anything to judge by, it’s not hard to see why — the poor woman must have been so hungry that she couldn’t function.

The first diet Garbo tried consisted of nothing but spinach.

For three weeks, Garbo consumed various forms of the legume, and Harrington, proving she is game for anything, followed in her footsteps (albeit for one day) — not having had breakfast, she devoured a large plate of spinach for lunch, which did little to sustain her until the bowl of sautéed spinach she had for dinner.

Garbo had many diets, so, in the name of investigative journalism, Harrington also tried her famous celery loaf.

Harrington’s description of the ‘green mush’ (which was produced after blending celery with vegetables and bread crumbs) is far from complimentary and it is hardly surprising that when the ‘loaf’ had finished baking, she was so repulsed — likening the smell to that of a ‘rotting body’ — that she slammed the oven door shut. She left the loaf there for several days, before she had the courage to remove it to the dustbin.

During her 10 days on Garbo’s diet, Harrington was so hungry that she looked forward to drinking buttermilk with yeast and to eating liver, which once disgusted her.

At the end of the trial, she had lost four pounds, but, by her own admission, looked ill.

Victoria Beckham

Stressing over hard to swallow celebrity diets has got to stop

VB is the modern ‘skeletor’ — managing to remain stick-insect thin after having four children.

She is permanently criticised for never smiling and if her dietary habits are anything to go by, it is hardly surprising. How determined must you be to forgo a cake for your birthday and opt for a fruit plate, instead? Surely, one day of the year she could let her hair down?

Apparently not, because if Harrington’s experiences of Mrs Beckham’s diet are to be believed, the secret to her super-skinny body is the ‘Five Hands Diet’. This bonkers method limits all your food intake to what you can fit in the palm of your hand — you can only do this five times a day, then you must ‘declare yourself full’.

I have no problem eating five handfuls of food a day, but this would be alongside three square meals, so I suppose it’s no wonder I don’t have Posh’s pins.

According to Harrington, she doesn’t have “Victoria’s stamina, willpower or ability to just pose while other people are singing”, so found it difficult to get through just three days of her incredibly strict diet.

The pop-star-turned-designer also believes that an alkaline diet is best and that to lose weight we should shun acidic foods.

But Harrington was perplexed by this as it seems that acidic foods are basically all fat, meat, eggs and most carbohydrates — Harrington says followers of this diet “pretend that fat is acid”, which, given that lemons are considered alkaline, “makes as much sense as the lyrics to ‘Spice Up Your Life’.”

After three days, Harrington seems to have been too stunned by hunger to bother weighing herself as she doesn’t document any weight-loss in this chapter.

Jackie Kennedy

Stressing over hard to swallow celebrity diets has got to stop

This woman is so alluring. She seemed effortlessly glamorous, and while she had a wonderful figure it wasn’t all sharp edges, as is the norm for most of today’s ‘stars’.

But it never crossed my mind that the enigmatic former ‘First Lady’ of the US had to curb her calories like the rest of us.

So it was with great interest, and the gentle shattering of an illusion, that I read of the dietary whims of John F Kennedy’s wife.

As with everything in her life, Jackie’s diet was nothing if not stylish.

According to legend, one of her trends was to eat no more than a daily baked potato, with sour cream and beluga caviar.

At €6,000 and €8,000 per kilo, it’s not something many of us will be throwing into our trollies on impulse, but it is possible to buy cheaper varieties and this is what the author did.

But even though it was still costly, Harrington was left famished by the single-potato diet, which helped her to lose three pounds in two days.

She moved on to sample some of Jackie’s other diets, which all, of course, involved a more select shopping list than Harrington was used to — mussels, scallops and mango sorbet dominated her culinary repertoire and, after 10 days, she felt “thinner and more refined”.

If a lottery win comes my way soon, I might try this one.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Stressing over hard to swallow celebrity diets has got to stop

What is it about wholesome Gwynnie that sets people’s teeth on edge? Harrington seems to revere the 42-year-old actress, and considers her not only hugely talented in front of the camera, but also an excellent lifestyle ‘guru’ — hmmm.

So, she embarked with gusto on a series of Paltrow-inspired diets. With lashings of kale juice, the premise of this eating plan is to only consume ‘good food’.

This involves cutting out everything we have been brought up to believe constitutes a healthy diet — namely bread, red meat, dairy, deep-water fish (don’t ask me) and a lot more besides, including most carbohydrate.

As anyone who knows her Goop lifestyle website will be aware, nothing in Paltrow’s world comes cheap so even the writer winced at spending €200 on a weekly grocery bill for one person.

But this was the only fault she could find with the diet which, over the course of the 10-day trial, included buttermilk pancakes, Goji berries, turkey meatballs, and broccoli soup — it is, she says “an awesome way to live”.

I’ll Have What She’s Having — My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting, by Rebecca Harrington, is published by Virago and costs £8.99


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