For four weeks, PEOPLE reporter Maria Yagoda is committing her entire life to getting red carpet ready, using celeb-approved, beautifying tips and tricks, from extreme fitness classes to colon hydrotherapy to major diet changes. Here’s how week one went:
What Is It: A gluten-free and dairy-free diet
Who Tried It: Maria Yagoda, PEOPLE Writer/Reporter
Level of Difficulty: 10 — It’s very difficult and also socially isolating.
Despite having a lifelong intolerance to lactose, bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches are a fundamental part of my life. I buy one most mornings on my way to work, sacrificing a days-worth of intestinal well-being for two minutes of soft sandwich bliss. So when I agreed to embark on a month-long journey to get red carpet ready, inspired by the actual things actual celebrities do to tone up and beautify, I was devastated to learn that cutting out gluten and dairy is a common part of this process.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian and Alexander Skarsgard — my three body icons — have all gone dairy- and gluten-free, as have countless other stars who need to slim down for a shoot or red carpet. Maybe the diet would help me lose that pesky layer of fat above my knees, or clear up my skin? Maybe it would boost my confidence, presently at historic lows? I didn’t know what to expect, but I agreed to do it because I’m at a place in my life where I feel like I have nothing left to lose.
Ten days after ditching dairy and gluten, I can confidently say that it transformed my life. Truly. I lost a few pounds, and my skin cleared up. While I didn’t get more energy, as I’d been promised by, I feel like, hundreds of magazine articles, I reached new levels of insufferable. I couldn’t stop talking about it. Someone would say, “Hey, the snack area has Goldfish now,” not even to me, and I’d chime in, “It’s interesting you mention that because Goldfish have dairy and gluten, two things I’m not eating.” I talked about it on dates, at restaurants, and to myself, in bed, when I was fantasizing about spaghetti and meatballs but gnawing on pistachios and sucking on their shells for extra flavor.
Because the truth is this: Giving up any major ingredient or food item takes over your life. You have to put more thought into meal-planning because there are fewer convenient foods you can grab, especially if bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches make up a medically-unheard-of percentage of your diet.
While I grew accustomed to banana and peanut butter for breakfast and cafeteria salad bar for lunch, the nights were brutal. I don’t have the foresight or maturity-level to purchase the necessary groceries in advance, or do meal prep. I still haven’t beaten Candy Crush yet! I’m a busy career woman, and I usually want to eat the second I get home. So, after a long day at work talking about how Goldfish have gluten and dairy inside them, I would nibble on nuts and prepare a salad, or order Thai delivery of rice and salad, or order Mediterranean delivery of rice and salad and lamb. So much variety!
Because the diet is so protein-heavy, I found myself losing the impulse to snack on delicacies like Doritos at 4:02 p.m., the exact moment my body demands attention i.e. simple carbohydrates. I don’t weigh myself, but have noticed that my clothing fits a little bit loser, and my face has been punctuated with significantly fewer breakouts. But was it worth it? I don’t know. I really may have lost most of my friends.
Stay tuned for week two, week three, and final day of carpet prep, as Maria grows ever-more insufferable.