Gwyneth Paltrow’s former right-hand woman has spoken out against the “toxic” wellness culture promoted by Goop.
Fans of Gwyneth’s wellness empire will be familiar with Elise Loehnen who, as part of her role as Goop’s chief content officer, cohosted TheGoop Podcast and also made regular appearances on its Netflix show, The Goop Lab.
However, after seven years working as second-in-command at Goop, Elise made the call to step away from the company in October 2020, citing a forthcoming book deal and new podcast pursuit.
In a statement after the news of her departure, Gwyneth said that Elise was "like a sister" to her and said that she looked forward to "proudly" watching as she entered the next "monumental stage in her professional life."
But despite seemingly parting on good terms with Gwyneth and the Goop empire, it now seems that stepping away gave Elise a new perspective on the company’s “toxic” practices.
In a short video shared to her Instagram followers on Tuesday, Elise opened up about how years of restrictive diet cleanses during her time at Goop actually led to her developing an unhealthy and “distorted” relationship with her body.
She began the video by saying that after leaving Goop, she made the decision to completely “forswear any cleansing,” noting that the practice had become counterproductive to her health.
“To me, it had become synonymous with dieting and restriction, and I felt like I was not in a healthy relationship with my body, where I was always trying to punish it [and] bring it under control,” Elise says in the video.
The Pulling the Thread podcast host went on to reveal that after she stepped back from Goop’s restrictive cleansing practices, she underwent a complete shift and began “eating like a teenager.”
“And I’ve been eating like a teenager for two years and enjoying it, to be honest,” she said of her complete U-turn in approach to wellness.
In the post's caption, she went on to say that allowing herself to eat an unrestricted diet was a healthier option in many ways because it helped her let go of “ideas of what my body should look like as a 42-year-old who has had two kids,” adding that during her time at Goop, she developed a “critical and punishing” attitude to her body and well-being.
“I needed to break a tendency to be critical and punishing. To chastise myself. All of it,” she wrote. “I stopped weighing myself completely.”
Elise said that after speaking with a friend, she was reminded that “wellness culture can be toxic,” but added that eating an unnourishing diet can also be harmful too.
“When I talked with my friend @ellenvoramd on PULLING THE THREAD recently, we explored diet and she reminded me that wellness culture can be toxic AND that eating an abundance of overly processed foods can also be toxic,” she said, reflecting on the realization that both extremes can be problematic.
In the latter part of the post, Elise revealed that, despite forgoing any kind of restrictive cleanses after leaving Goop, she recently made the decision to embark on a Kroma Wellness cleanse but said that she has adopted an entirely new approach to these practices.
“I thought I would hate the whole thing but I decided to do it differently,” she said. “I didn't weigh myself before, during, after, and I chose the version that lets you eat extra veggies and proteins as you want.”
She concluded by saying that her renewed approach to cleansing and health after leaving Goop prompted a newfound love and appreciation for her body.
“I refuse to punish myself with food, or hold myself under the weight my body seems to want to be anymore,” she said. “I don't have the energy or the interest, thankfully. (And more importantly, I've come to realize that I really like my body and am grateful it is mine.) Hopefully I've broken that cycle for good.”
A source with knowledge of the situation told BuzzFeed News that despite reports claiming Elise left her role at Goop in favor of new professional pursuits, the former CCO did not resign from her position.
The source went on to claim that shortly before Elise’s departure from Goop was announced in October 2020, executives at the company had been made aware of internal complaints alleging that Elise was a “toxic manager.”
They added that Goop staff are “surprised” by Elise’s recent comments on wellness culture, saying that she was a “proponent” for cleanses and “pushed forward” on the same kind of practices she condemned in her recent statement.
Elise’s comments come after years of criticism leveled against Goop and its extreme approach to wellness.
In February 2018, the company faced intense backlash after it published a Q&A article with Traci Mann, PhD, titled “Busting Diet Myths,” in which she encouraged Goop readers “to aim for their leanest livable weight.”
A few months before this, Goop was called out for endorsing toxic diet culture after publishing tips from celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who urged readers to “get off gluten and go very low carb” and eat meal replacement bars to lose weight quickly.
What's more, the company has previously been slammed for deceptive marketing, promoting health claims without sufficient evidence.
As well as its questionable health advice, Goop has also been accused of having a toxic work environment, too. Last fall, it was reported by the Business Insider that the company lost 140 staff members due to layoffs and resignations.
Shortly after this, former staff members said that they were paid low wages and experienced “fear-based management” and a “'mean girl' vibe” at the company. Others even called out the owner specifically, claiming that Gwyneth chose “favorites” in her staff.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to a representative from Goop for comment.