Meet Shan Cooper
Parenting is extremely difficult, but rewarding. Unfortunately, people love to give their unsolicited parenting advice to you, whether it’s about; education, discipline, or religion- people will give their opinions no matter how unqualified they truly are. For this mom, Shan Cooper, the unsolicited parenting advice she received from around the world was about starting her baby on the Paleo diet- and it went viral. Shan never gave in, and now years later, we get to see the effects this decision had on her daughter.
Meet Baby Grace
It was the exciting time for Grace to start kindergarten, but she was different than the other kids. Grace has never experienced processed foods or sugar her entire life. This is a very foreign concept in most households. Shan always knew that her decision to put her baby on the Paleo diet, would benefit her. She never realized how much it would benefit her, until she saw how different Grace looked from her classmates.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet refers to the Paleolithic Era. The diet follows the guidelines of only consuming foods available to humans during this period. The guidelines cut out a lot of popular foods such as; processed foods, sugar, legumes or grains, and dairy. This diet is full of vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, and lean meats.
Shan had adopted the diet long before Grace was born, in hopes to cure health problems related to certain foods. Shan explained how much better she felt after eliminating processed foods. “I just got sick of not feeling great. That had been my normal and (I decided) that wasn’t going to be normal anymore,” according to Life Buzz. Once she noticed the benefits the diet made for her, she knew instantly that’s the lifestyle she wanted for her child- when the time came.
What’s Best For the Baby?
The famous Paleo diet has been around since the 1970’s, every few years it would jump in and out of trend. There are a lot of people who live by this diet, but it’s never been tested out on an infant. Despite not having any data, Shan knew this is the route she wanted to go down for her child. She got a lot of backlash. Some people told her she was crazy, and some even told her that she was harming her child, but Shan stuck to her guns. Unfortunately she went to the doctor, and received some information she didn’t see coming.
Grace’s pediatrician was a little worried that she wasn’t receiving enough nutrition in her diet, due to the diets restrictions- even though he didn’t have any proof. Grace was a healthy child, because Shan had always fed her a healthy diet while breastfeeding her. Shan never gave her any sugar, because she knew it would raise the risk of certain diseases. The brain reacts to sugar the same way as it does to stimulant drugs, and Shan knew that wasn’t the lifestyle she wanted for her daughter. Yet, people still criticized her- saying she was in the wrong.
Things Got Personal
Shan’s health and lifestyle career took off, even though it was a lot of hard work, took up a lot of her personal time, and a ton of dedication- she tried her best to balance both worlds. While she was expanding her career, she unfortunately found out her husband was having an affair. She was now on her own with an eight-month-old. Trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle became a challenge.
Shan discussed on her blog, that all of the hard times actually brought new opportunities in her life, “It has created avenues for my business that would have never been possible had I stayed where things were ‘comfortable’.” As time went on, and as Grace got older- Shan realized her daughter had a pallet that other children didn’t. These results reassured Shan that all of her hard work was paying off.
Grace loves the foods she consumes, because that’s what she grew up on. She doesn’t cry or breakdown when it comes to eating broccoli or spinach- which seems to be the normal for most children. Shan shared what she gives to Grace most days, based on their healthy diet. Shan discussed, that for breakfast Graced will eat eggs cooked in coconut oil. For lunch, she will have things like organic chicken and vegetables. For dinner, her favorite is spaghetti with zucchini noodles and organic fed beef. They don’t skip the dessert, either. They usually will eat sweet fruits or healthy smoothies, instead of usual traditional desserts.
An Education to Back Her Beliefs
Shan has an education to back her theory. She has a degree in agricultural science, has written her own e-book about the matter, and she has her own website- called My Food Religion. On her website she is constantly updating her followers on new recipes, new information, and personal experiences.
Shan discussed with Newsner, that when Grace gets old enough to go to parties- She will allow Grace to make her own choices on what to eat. “She’ll be old enough to know she can choose whatever she wants to eat. She’ll probably come home jacked up on sugar and cake and say, ‘Mum, I don’t feel very well.’ And next time instead of eating 12 cupcakes she might only eat three. I want Grace to eat what makes her feel good.”
Grace has only been sick once in her life, says Shan. She praises the diet for her daughter’s strong immune system. Shan discussed with The Daily Mail, “She spends a lot of time around other kids who are sick all the time — who have snotty noses, coughs, colds — but she just doesn’t pick it up.”
A Sensible Way Of Life
Shan lives a decently relaxed lifestyle, in spite of her diet restrictions. She has a way to deal with the reality of being on a strict diet in real life. She told The Daily Mail, “I don’t think eating a piece of bread is going to kill me. When I go out to dinner with friends, I’m just going to eat what’s on the menu. I’m not going to be a jerk about it,”
An Essential Reason
Shan has another reason why she doesn’t want to restrict Grace when it comes to her diet, as she becomes older. She said “I don’t want there to be any disordered eating around here. Females particularly have enough problems with eating disorders. I want Grace to eat what makes her feel good.” Shan just wants her daughter to be healthy and happy; however, there are still people who question this lifestyle and continue to voice their opinions about it.
Dr. Rosemary Stanton
Someone who disagrees with putting a child on such a restrictive diet, at such a young age is Dr. Rosemary Stanton, a well- known dietitian. She discusses that, “It’s really not usually a good idea to put a child on such a restricted diet, particularly when there are no grounds for it. Depriving her child of grains and legumes will make it much more difficult to achieve a balanced diet.” She even advises people to not follow Shan’s decision, but Shan didn’t let her get the last word in.
Shan went on to fire back on such harsh criticism on her blogs, saying, “Why eating real food is such a scandalous topic is just bizarre. If you want to feed your kid one of the most nutrient-void pieces of crap ever, knock your socks off.”
No Bullying Here
Shan knew a parent needs to do what’s right for their children, and always have reasoning behind it. She stated, “I’m not going to internet troll you. You do the right thing you think for your kid. Why people think it’s offensive to eat a plate of vegetables over a piece of bread — that’s bizarre.”
Doctor Ramsey may disagree with Shan’s decision; however, other doctors have other opinions about the matter. The New York Times published an article about childhood nutrition, basically supporting Shan’s theory about her daughter’s healthy lifestyle. Doctor Elsie M. Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, discusses that introducing children early to healthy eating is exceptionally important, “Our early taste preferences, particularly for fruits and vegetables, and on the flip side for sugary beverages, are lasting.”
Rainbow Paddle Pops
These are Graces favorite dairy- free “ice cream” pops. They are there to carb when she has a sweet tooth, or when Shan has to say no to other sweets she can’t have. Shan discussed, “I was at a cafe the other day with G and there was a big sign advertising all the ice creams they had available. In standard 4-year-old style, she asked for pretty much every item on the sign which was consistently met with the same answer, negative Ghostrider. The negotiation for not embarking in a full-blown meltdown (because 4) was that we could make some ice blocks when we got home. Of course she asked to make rainbow paddle pops, *facepalm*, and of course, I had to oblige because asshole parent wouldn’t let her eat the other junk from the shop so this was my alternative.”
On her blog, Shan shares some of her healthy but amazingly delicious recipes. One recipe she shared that is delightfully sweet is, “Figs roasted in truffle honey & pink muesli.”
Shan also shared this incredible spinach pie. This pie is vegetarian, low- carb, and paleo. She gives the details about the recipe, and discusses how you can modify it to your lifestyle preferences.
Another recipe, she shared is this cauliflower soup. This soup is a great alternative to the dairy and heavy version of clam chowder. For all of these recipes and more, make sure you check out her page at: My Food Religion.