This Baby Never Had Refined Carbs or Sugars and You Won’t Believe the Results
The following article tells the story of Shannon Cooper and her child. When she had her baby she decided to raise her with no sugars or refined carbs, on a fairly strict diet by most peoples taste. Keep in mind that Shannon is educated in nutrition and made these choices based on her own knowledge. What you read here should not be used as medical advice or a guide to raising your own child in this way as the results may not be the same for everyone.
The choices that Shannon made for Grace were controversial but the story is fascinating and tells us a bit about how we treat our bodies. Of course, it is key that you work with your doctor to make sure you are raising your child in the healthiest way possible. Take this story as inspiration, but not a guide. Instead, let it make you think about the choices you make for your little ones and the results that may come from those choices.
Shannon Cooper is the picture of health. She has spent most of her adult life studying how food affects the human body and used that to make sure she is as healthy as possible. It shows, too, as one look will make you wonder just what it is that makes her hair, skin, and features all so ideal. Ultimately, it comes down to what she eats. She says that food is fuel or poison, and she follows that motto daily. But, when she became pregnant and had a child, her views were scrutinized by people from all walks of life.
Going Deeper Into What We Eat
While Shannon strongly believes that we are what we eat, she also believe that we are what we ate. For example, depending on the type of eggs you eat, you could see 19 times more Omega 3 content when comparing a free range and a caged hen. With this idea, she started down a path that would put her thoughts to the test.
A Choice for Grace
Shannon had plenty of experience keeping her own body healthy through eating. Much of her knowledge came from her agricultural science degree. Once she had her baby girl Grace, she decided to do something that would spark a controversy that she likely had no idea was coming.
As a health and wellness coach, Shannon spends her days helping others understand food. When she decided to start a family, that expertise continued to that of her newborn baby. She wanted to make sure that she brought her daughter up as healthy as possible. The science wasn’t there to support her ideas though, and no one knew how this would impact her daughter going forward.
Restricting the Diet
Shannon already lived on a fairly restrictive diet by today’s standards when she become a mother. No sugars, no carbs, and no preservatives entered her diet. Like it or not, Grace was about to live, at least for now, by the same restrictions as her mother. An exclusive diet that is unlike anything you would expect for a baby.
Keeping it Paleo
Shannon lived most of her adult life on the Paleo diet and she decided that that would be the path she followed for Grace. As a self-proclaimed “gut health enthusiast” she felt that baby food out of a jar went against everything she believed in. The jars are heavily processed and filled with preservatives, something that she was completely against. So it was time to go all natural foods for Grace.
What is Paleo?
scribol.comBefore going further, it is important to know just what the Paleo diet actually is. Paleolithic diets are diets that can be most closely associated with what a stone-age diet would include. This is food that could only be hunted or gathered, which leads to a great deal of meat and fish, and a whole bunch of fresh fruits and veggies. The diet has been a huge hit with many people, but no one knew how it would affect a baby or child.
noteabley.comSo what made Shannon Cooper become a Paleo fanatic in her adult life? She was fighting many food allergies and constantly felt bad after eating. She wasn’t fueling her body, she was poisoning it, she felt. So, she decided to switch what she ate and focused on things that would improve how she felt, increase her energy and help her feel like she wanted. But our bodies all work differently, so what worked wonders for Shannon may not for others.
See Ya, Sugar
While she didn’t know it at the time, Shannon Cooper would soon learn that the Paleo diet worked wonders for her. She felt significantly better, and while it was an adjustment, she embraced her new lifestyle.
“I just got sick of not feeling great,” Shannon candidly told the Daily Mail. “That had become my normal, and [I decided] that it wasn’t going to be normal anymore.”
So what does the medical community think about the Paleo diet in general? That can get tricky.
Doctors Weigh In
Medical experts point out that the Paleo diet has pros and cons. While the idea is that we eat like our ancestors, something more pure, we have evolved a great deal since then. For example, they ate three times the amount of produce that a typical American will eat. They ate less fat and sodium, and they got more minerals and vitamins from their diet. While the medical community is still studying the diet, how would it work for a baby in this day and age?
Everything sounded pretty good from the medical community, but the cons had not been discussed yet. While the Paleo diet points to the natural way that it feeds us like we were meant to be fed, it skips over some of the health issues that our ancestors faced. Parasites, hardening of the arteries and infectious diseases were just a few of the issues. So, when you aren’t able to eat grains, or dairy, are you actually hurting yourself, or your baby, in Shannon’s case?
It Can’t Be All Bad
Obviously the diet worked well for Shannon. She was full grown when she went onto the diet and her body had time to grow naturally. But now that she was putting her daughter on the restrictive diet, what would her daughter say about her choice?
Regardless of how you feel about Shannon’s choices so far, she did consult with her doctor about the safety of the diet. She, of course, wanted to ensure that she was doing what was best for Grace. The doctor, unfortunately, could not give any concrete answers as there is little research on the diet and young children available. Shannon wanted to stick to the diet for Grace, but she had to make a concession.
While the Paleo diet doesn’t allow for dairy of any kind, Shannon needed to ensure that her daughter was able to take in breast milk. While this seems a no-brainer, considering our ancestors likely breast fed as well, many parents that put their babies on the Paleo diet decide not to breast feed. Shannon’s doctor also gave her additional warnings about some of the risks she would be putting on Grace. Would she listen though?
Many Paleo-Parents decide to go with DIY infant formulas instead of breast milk. Chef Pete Evans was about to release a book with a DIY formula that nutritionists studied and said could “cause permanent damage and possibly result in death.”
Evans was forced to change the recipe as it would not meet the legal standards required to be classified as a formula, but more importantly it wasn’t safe due to some of the nutrients that babies cannot digest.
Ass little Grace started to wean off breast milk, she needed an alternative to traditional baby food. Shannon decided to make all the food her daughter would eat (a significant undertaking). Since she was in charge of everything that would go into little Grace’s body, the concern would be if the Paleo diet would work for a child. The answer wasn’t clear yet.
The Rules of the Diet
The Paleo diet is strict and has many guidelines. To ensure they were all followed, Shannon would have to make sure that her daughter only had natural foods. As she started to wean off of breastfeeding she would introduce Grace to plates of veggies and organic chicken, all natural and without any processing, preservatives, or sugars. This was a healthier choice in her mind as it was not a commercial product, but something that was natural and fell within guidelines. She was in for a surprise for how it affected her daughter.
The Difference of Grace
If you have a child you know how hard it is to get them to eat their greens. That wasn’t the case for Grace. At just over a year old, many images were posted to Shannon’s Instagram account of Grace eating broccoli, and other foods that every kid avoids. Grace was eating foods that many adults avoid. But was she getting everything she needed for her rapidly growing body, and what would the long term effects be?
A Sweet Tooth
With meals like quinoa porridge, chia pudding, and sauerkraut, Grace was eating unlike any kid most of us have ever met. Many parents can say they didn’t introduce sugar to their children until they were over a year old, but Grace went even further. She had not had any carbs or sugary treats by 13 months, and she loves the foods she eats, says Shannon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.
The Initial Results
According to her mother, Grace has been amazingly healthy, only getting a mild cold once. Children generally get sick often in their youth as they start to build up their immune system.
“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,” Shannon told the Daily Mail.
This is all due to the Paleo diet, according to Shannon.
So, is the diet really working, or has Shannon been keeping her locked away from sick kids to make sure she stays healthy? “It’s certainly not because I’m not shielding her from any of that stuff,” Shannon says in regards to catching illnesses, “I absolutely think a nutrient-dense diet is giving her a strong immune system,” she added. Shannon has even written a number of cookbooks to help others create healthy meals.
A Mishmash of Food
To keep things interesting, Shannon tries her hardest to make the diet less restrictive. Shannon says she is not “vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, carb-free or any other food ‘denomination’ in its entirety.” She just goes with what works. “I take what I like from different food approaches and recipes and adapt it to suit what makes me feel good,” Shannon added. But with a child in the picture, things can get difficult. What about when friends are over. What do they get to eat? Parties, gatherings, going to school? How will that all work for Grace?
The Reality of it All
When confronted with the very strict diet and the fact that her child would become more independent, Shannon replied, “If she eats a piece of bread, I’m not going to have a conniption. I’m not going to not let her go to kids’ parties. She’s going to go to kids’ parties and eat what’s there.” The big question stands, though, what will Grace decide to eat when she is free to make her own choices?
A Simple Education
Shannon has stated that her goal is to educate her daughter. If she can teach her how food impacts her body and how she feels, than when her daughter tries new foods that may make her feel sick, she will be able to identify that and adjust her eating accordingly. As with all decisions though, there are positives and there are negatives, especially when others start giving feedback. Everything was smooth sailing, but Shannon was in for rough waters.
The Beginning of the Feedback
Once Shannon started to show up online based on her choices for Grace she got a mix of feedback. While she saw some positive feedback from a large group of people, just as many, or more, were critical of her parenting choices and felt that she was doing something wrong. Shannon wasn’t sure how to respond.
You’ve Gotta Be Kidding
Shannon didn’t understand why other’s were so critical of her, when they were pumping their children full of high fat, fried foods, that had no health benefits at all. A bit shocked by the feedback, Shannon had this to say; “If you want to feed your kid one of the most nutrient-void pieces of [nonsense] ever, knock your socks off. [But] people think that it’s offensive to eat a plate of vegetables [over] a piece of bread. That’s bizarre.” But the media caught wind of this, and things were going to get worse, fast.
The Waters Get Worse
Experts were chiming in on Shannon’s “extreme” parenting, with one dietitian speaking loudly. Dr. Rosemary Stanton said that, “It’s not usually a good idea to put a child on such a restricted diet, particularly when there are no valid grounds for it.” She also advised that Shannon add things such as alfalfa and chickpeas to the diet as grains and legumes would be important.
Turning the Other Cheek
While Shannon did listen to what was said, she didn’t buy it. “[What Grace eats now] is not weird, or anything that normal people wouldn’t eat. She loves it. I don’t feed her toast or cereal or anything like that. [But] I think, ‘That stuff is not going to kill her.’ If she eats a piece of bread, I’m not going to have a conniption fit,” Shannon Cooper firmly stated. And Shannon was about to start fighting back with proof.
The Most Important Thing
For Shannon, her only concern is Grace’s health and happiness. At three years old, Grace had only been sick once. So something was going right. “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,” Shannon told the Daily Mail. It seems that Shannon’s goal is to get Grace started, and let her know what feeling good feels like. From there, she will be an advisor and help Grace as she grows.
Shannon now runs a site called myfoodreligion, where she spends her time helping others learn how to live better through healthy eating. Her full-time job is that of a food, health, and wellness coach in Australia. In addition, workshops and private classes are offered where Shannon will teach others how to make healthy food that is enjoyable to eat.
Grace Growing Up
In August of 2018, Grace headed off to Kindergarten. The moment was shared with Shannon’s followers. She points out how healthy her daughter looks, and how great she feels, and she attributes it all to their eating habits. “Slow down bebe. How is my baby girl almost off to Kindy. As much as she drives me nuts some days I know this time will be gone in the blink of an eye,” Shannon wrote. Now that Grace was on her own, would she stay the path?
Fun and Sun
Shannon has no intention of forcing Grace to continue her diet as she grows older. She should make her own choices. On concern was sticking to the diet while travelling. In Mykonos, Greece, they were able to easily stay on their diet without issue and Shannon shares just how that can be accomplished on her blog and social media.
A Love of Food
Shannon’s switch to the Paleo diet wasn’t a switch to hating food. Just the opposite. It was a switch away from foods she felt were making her sick. Now, she looks at ways to create amazing dishes that are crave-able and a way to let her keep snacking without having to worry too much about what she is getting. Many of the foods, such as these Quinoa Bars are bake-free, which is perfect for someone that doesn’t love hanging out in the kitchen.
Expanding to Mind
Shannon’s change wasn’t just for what she ate, it was for how she lived her life. She has move into meditation and trying new products that promote a healthier lifestyle, such as products that help with sleep. She openly shares what she discovers with her followers on her Instagram account, and has conversations about what she discovers.
Keeping Things Close
Now that Grace is getting older, Shannon keeps an open dialogue with her about why she made the decisions that she did. This lets the two bond over the choices that were made, without making Grace feel that she has to do what she was raised doing. Everything is shared, and Grace is a big part of trying new things with her mom. They have even started to get different product boxes to try, where they share their opinions of what was included. But that isn’t the end of Shannon sharing her story and talking about Grace.
Shannon has become an advocate for many health brands. But she isn’t just selling her personality. She makes sure she only promotes the things she truly believes in. Things like PrimalThenics and Cleanse Skincare are part of her list, along with a number of other products that she has tested and approved of. While she could probably make a significant amount of money based on her fame, at this point, she sticks to her roots of making sure she educates others in the best way to get, or stay, healthy.
The Might of the Pen
In addition to her regular blogging, Shannon has turned to writing as much as possible. So far, she has three Paleo recipe books on the market. It seems that she is doing this because of how it changed her life and she wants to offer that same advice to others. While she is passionate about what she loves in her own life, she seems to be more passionate about sharing it with others.
As mentioned earlier, Shannon hosts workshops to help others learn how to live on the Paleo diet without feeling too restricted. She travels through Australia speaking about what she learned and working with other professionals in her field to discuss and push the ideas of the Paleo lifestyle. While she still has her critics, it doesn’t stop her from continuing to show the world what she has learned.
An Unbreakable Bond
Grace and Shannon are still extremely close. They do so much together, including pajama parties, and cooking together. She wants the world to see how close they are, because so many critics have said that the restrictive diet that she put Grace on when she was a baby was a form of abuse. Shannon wants the world to see that it was just the opposite, it was to make sure that she gave her daughter the healthiest life she could.
The Positives of Her Lifestyle
Putting yourself out there can be hard. When you share your life choices with the world, including how you raise your child, the anonymity of the internet will bring out the worst in people. The other side of the coin, though, is that it also gives people without a voice a place to support someone that had a positive impact on their lives. Testimonials from her website prove that she isn’t doing this alone.