Baby Has Been On The Paleo Diet Since Birth — Here’s What She Looks Like Today

An Unorthodox Parent

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Countless people had told her she was wrong. That what she was doing to her child was harmful and misguided. She received messages from all over the world, chiming in on her parenting choices. Even so-called experts came to her with unsolicited advice. But she remained steadfast and stayed the course — even as her life seemed to fall apart. Now, a couple of years into this adventure, we get to see how her child is doing.

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Kid Cuisine

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Mom Shan Cooper recently enrolled daughter Grace into kindergarten. However, Grace was nothing like the other kids. From birth, Grace had been raised on a paleo-based diet. Grace had never touched sugar in her life. Unlike conventional baby food, Grace was fed an unprocessed, natural diet from the beginning. Shan never thought anything of it, until now. Grace looked incredibly different to other kids her age, making the other parents wonder.

Changing Her Eating Habits

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Shan herself adopted the diet long before she had Grace, after she read a book on the subject. She had been suffering from ongoing problems with food allergies for years. “I just got sick of not feeling great,” Shan said. “That had been my normal and (I decided) that wasn’t going to be normal anymore.” So she started avoiding dairy, gluten, and eventually all processed foods — especially sugars. It was a game-changer for her. But what about for her daughter?

A Controversial Decision

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After becoming pregnant, Shan decided to raise her daughter on a Paleo diet since birth. This diet —which includes meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and limits dairy, legumes, and grains — has been around since the 1970s. But it’s never really been monitored on infants before. However, Shan was headstrong in her decision. Grace would be Paleo. Whilst people scoffed and thought her to be crazy, the determined mom continued. She really believed in her choice, until she visited the doctor.

Making An Exception

Eat Drink Paleo

Despite the paleo diet’s restrictions on dairy consumption, Grace’s pediatrician convinced Shan to breastfeed her daughter to improve her nutritional intake. Shan was willing to be a bit more flexible for the sake of Grace’s health. But there was one thing she put her foot down on: sugar. Excess sugar in the diet can rot your teeth, overload your liver, and increase your risk of diabetes. Too much sugar can even contribute to certain kinds of cancers developing. Luckily, Shan’s background helped her figure out how to avoid this.

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She Knows What She's Talking About

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Though people deemed her crazy, there is actually a method to Shan’s alleged ‘madness’. She has a degree in agricultural science and is an avid contributor to the healthy lifestyle scene. She has written an e-book of healthy recipes, and maintains her popular healthy-eating website, “My Food Religion.” It seemed as she had all the tools at her disposal to succeed in her quest to feed Grace a healthy diet. Then life threw a wrench in the whole plan.

The Day That Everything Changed

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When Grace was 8 months old, Shan was working part-time teaching healthy-eating workshops. Then, out of nowhere, she found out her husband of six years was having an affair. As she dealt with the fallout of this discovery, she had no time to grieve or process her feelings. Suddenly she was the single mother of an infant, with a mortgage and no steady income. It seemed as though her plans to keep her daughter on a strict diet would have to take a back seat.

Weathering The Storm

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Instead of succumbing to desperation, Shan decided to buckle up and barrel through. She threw herself fully into the health and wellness space, confident that her knowledge and expertise would help her business flourish. All the while, she continued her commitment to raising her daughter as healthily as possible. All the pain and the hard work eventually paid off. “It has created avenues for my business that would have never been possible had I stayed where things were ‘comfortable’,” she wrote in her blog. And what about Grace?

The Paleo Palette

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What does Grace — who is now a toddler — actually eat on the Paleo diet in a day? Shan said that breakfast usually starts with a couple of eggs cooked in coconut oil. For lunch, she feeds Grace organic roasted chicken and leftover vegetables from the previous night’s dinner. Speaking of dinners, they usually consist of things like spaghetti Bolognese prepared with organic beef and zucchini noodles taking the place of traditional grain pasta noodles. Desserts are basically nonexistent — no sugar. So what are the benefits?

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Healthy And Happy

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Shan claims that Grace’s immune system has been strengthened thanks to the diet and that is has prevented her from getting sick as frequently as other children whose parents feed them a more conventional diet. According to Shan, Grace has only been sick once in her life, and that even then, it was a minor cold that passed quickly. "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," she told the Daily Mail Australia.

What Happens When She Gets Older?

My Food Religion

But the question remains — what happens when Grace gets older? There's no question that she will be more exposed to sweets and temptations when she goes to school, gets more friends, and is invited to things like parties. In spite of the fact that she spends a lot of time — and money — preparing this restrictive diet for both her and her daughter, Shan said that she’s not too worried about when Grace is exposed to non-Paleo foods.

Not Sweating It

Now To Love

Despite the strict diet, Shan actually has a pretty relaxed approach. “I’m not going to not let her go to kids’ parties,” she said. “I’m never going to go to Grace, ‘You can’t eat anything at this party — but I packed you some kale. Here you go.’” By the time Grace is old enough to go to parties, “she’ll be old enough to know she can choose whatever she wants to eat,” she continued, “She’ll probably come home all 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.”

Growing Pains?

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Even though it sounds really strict and regimented, Shan said that it's not quite as inflexible as it might seem. “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," 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.” But not everyone agrees with her choices, and as you can imagine, she has her detractors.

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An Opposing Viewpoint

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Dr. Rosemary Stanton, a respected dietician, said, "It’s really not usually a good idea to put a child on such a restricted diet, particularly when there’s no grounds for it. Depriving her child of grains and legumes will make it much more difficult to achieve a balanced diet," she said. "I’d certainly sound a note of caution to other people considering following her.” She also emphasized that parents looking to feed their children according to a diet as restrictive as the Paleo diet should first consult with an accredited dietician.

Her Comeback

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Shan really doesn't understand why people are so interested in what she feeds her daughter and is frankly kind of confused as to why anyone would have a problem with it. “Why eating real food is such a scandalous topic is just bizarre,” she said, questioning why those who feed their children fast food aren’t subject to the same criticism. “If you want to feed your kid one of the most nutrient-void pieces of crap ever, knock your socks off.”

Eating Your Words

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"I'm not going to internet troll you," Shan added. "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." Others would argue that it's bizarre to deprive your child of certain food groups, so it's really a matter of balance. Nutrition is a complicated issue, but the most important thing is that you consult with a doctor so your child can grow up healthy and strong with a healthy attitude towards food. Hopefully, that works out for Grace.

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