Shannon Cooper is an Australian health and wellness coach known for her blog, My Food Religion. When she became a mother in 2014, she made up a decision to raise her daughter on a very particular diet without any sugar or carbs! That's quite controversial, but Cooper proved all the cynics wrong.
Copper is a real health enthusiast who loves to study nutrition, diets and what certain foods do to the body. She's carried out her health research for much of her adult life, and that led to a drastic decision that would eventually affect her daughter too.
Cooper decided to raise her daughter Grace on the Paleo diet from birth. This meant that Grace wouldn't be eating processed, jarred baby food like most babies. Countless people told her she was wrong, but Cooper wasn't going to back down.
A Paleo diet, aka "caveman diet," means that you eat only Stone Age men would eat, including meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. Cooper discovered the diet for herself in 2010 and it has completely transformed her life. But how would it affect a newborn baby?
Cavemen did have a relatively healthy diet, but that wasn't enough to say they lived healthier than people do today. The Paleo diet also insists on cutting grains, legumes, and dairy, which are essential in today's diet. So how did Cooper make it work for baby Grace?
Before Cooper went forth with the Paleo diet for Grace, she did seek out medical advice from a pediatrician. Cooper was given a fair warning and told to proceed with caution. But this didn't deter Cooper from raising Grace on Paleo since day one.
In the best interests of newborn Grace, Cooper made one exception by breastfeeding Grace for the first few months. It was completely fine though since Cooper herself was already on the diet. After all, you are what you eat. Still, there was quite a learning curve.
When it was time to transition from breast milk to formula and solids, Cooper didn't use the recipes that Celebrity Paleo chef Pete Evans developed, or jarred baby food sold in stores. Instead, she stuck to her Paleo ideals.
She filled her daughter's food with the wholesome nutrients she needed, and all the specially-prepared meals were free of sugars, preservatives, and were unprocessed. The only thing left to see was how it would affect little Grace.
Grace ate plenty of fruits and veggies, and has never in her life had the carbs and other sugary treats that kids love. On such a restricted diet, many people still questioned whether Grace was getting enough nutrients. Cooper would only see the results as Grace grew up.
Her mother claims that Grace has only ever gotten a mild cold once in the first few years of her life, and Grace doesn't catch anything even when she is around sick kids all the time. Cooper believes the Paleo diet has strengthened Grace's immune system.
Even though Cooper has successfully raised Grace on the Paleo diet so far, she knows that it won't be this way for Grace's entire life. There will inevitably come a time when Grace encounters foods that aren't allowed by the diet, and Cooper will let her decide for herself.
Cooper explains on her blog, "I take what I like from different food approaches and recipes and adapt it to suit what makes me feel good." She continues, "Females particularly have enough problems with eating disorders. I want Grace to eat what makes her feel good."
The idea that there is a set time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is really a human concept, but Cooper follows it quite loosely. "I feel like I can eat more intuitively rather than just eating because it's 'lunch time' etc. I listen to my body and hunger signals."
Cooper tries to have open and honest conversations with her daughter about their lifestyle practices. She involves Grace in many aspects of her career, and the knowledge Grace gains from Cooper will hopefully allow Grace to make conscious and informed decisions on her own.
Cooper's blog, My Food Religion, has tons of healthy recipes that incorporate aspects of various diets. Cooper has also made a living out of teaching private classes and workshops for people who want to learn how to prepare healthy foods and change their lifestyles.