Raising A Baby On The Paleo Diet – Good Or Bad Idea?

Published on 10/18/2018
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Shannon Cooper, who is a health and wellness coach, decided to raise her newborn in a rather untraditional way. Cooper made the decision not to feed her newborn, Grace, any sugar or carbs in order to raise her in the healthiest possible way. As would be expected, the internet had a lot to say about that, with some medical experts weighing in to give their opinion on the matter. As a serious health advocate, Cooper made a very interesting observation about the effect this particular lifestyle had on Grace.

Be Careful With What You Eat

Living in Brisbane, Australia, Cooper is a big believer in the old saying ‘you are what you eat’. For much of her life, she had tried to figure out how different foods affect the body. As Cooper believes, food can act either as a poison to our body, or fuel it properly. This belief is one she lives by, which is what lead her to make the decision to raise her daughter on the Paleo diet.

Be Careful With What You Eat

The Natural Food Chain

As a continuation of sorts to the familiar phrase ‘you are what you eat’, there is an ending to it, saying ‘you are what you eat ate’. Meaning it isn’t just what we ingest that affects us, it’s also what the animals we eat have eaten. One example is a free-range hen produces eggs containing up to 19 times the Omega 3 than caged hen eggs. The same goes for free-range cattle.

The Natural Food Chain

A Non-Traditional Decision

With lots of experience in healthy eating and food, Cooper got into the field at a young age, pursuing a degree in agricultural science. Once she had her baby girl, Cooper had some parental decisions to make about how she was going to raise her daughter. Cooper’s first priority was raising her baby in the healthiest possible way, leading to an eyebrow-raising decision.

A Non-Traditional Decision

A Health And Wellness Expert

Working as a health and fitness coach, Cooper is an expert in her field. When it comes to food, she knows exactly what she’s doing. She is very aware of what she eats, as what we put in our body can have such a serious effect. Since she gave birth it only makes sense she wants nothing more than to take care of her baby and keep her healthy and happy. The best way Cooper knows how to take care of her family is with the right foods.

A Health And Wellness Expert

A New Mother

In addition to her main profession as a health and wellness coach, Cooper was now also a new mother to a baby girl. Naturally, she wasn’t going to give her baby any harmful foods like preservatives and sugars. Cooper made the choice to keep to a rather strict diet, keeping a careful eye on the foods she would feed her daughter.

A New Mother

A Gut Health Enthusiast

Cooper put her baby on a diet simply as a healthy choice rather than to lose weight since Grace was by no means overweight. Going by the well-known paleo diet, Cooper eats according to the diet herself. A self-proclaimed ‘gut health enthusiast’, Cooper didn’t want to feed her baby jarred baby food as they tend to be heavily processed and preserved. Instead of the commercial baby food, Cooper opted for healthy and natural foods to give her daughter.

A Gut Health Enthusiast

Not A Diet, A Lifestyle

Known as the caveman diet, the Paleolithic diet advocates eating food that Paleolithic people were able to gather and hunt on their own naturally. It includes lots of meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Back in 2010 Cooper learned about the diet and gave it a try. The effect it had on her was incredible, resulting in her adapting the diet to a lifestyle change rather than a temporary thing.

Not A Diet, A Lifestyle

Food Allergies

Since Cooper suffered in the past from health issues and food allergies, she struggled to find the foods that worked for her in particular. Once she tried the Paleo diet, it became a lifestyle for her as it made her feel better than any other food had. In the past, any food she would eat would make her feel unwell, which is why she decided to make the drastic lifestyle change. As with many things related to health and fitness, what works for one person may not work for another.

Food Allergies

No More Sugar

The paleo diet has worked amazingly for Cooper. She had more energy and generally felt much healthier. Part of the diet is avoiding sugar, carbs, preservatives, processed foods, and additives. Along with these things, dairy, grains, and legumes are to be avoided as well. Speaking with the Daily Mail, Cooper said, “I just got sick of not feeling great. That had become my normal, and [I decided] that it wasn’t going to be normal anymore.” The next question to ask is, what do experts think about this diet?

No More Sugar

A Second Opinion

As medical experts explain, the Paleo diet has its pros and cons. The idea behind it is to stick to natural foods, just like our caveman ancestors did. There are many experts that agree with the sentiment than our ancestors did eat healthier than we do nowadays. They ate roughly three times more produce than the average American does, eating more fiber, protein, omega 3, unsaturated fat, and vitamins and minerals. Their sodium intake was also significantly smaller than the modern day intake.

A Second Opinion

The Downside

As with everything, the diet has a downside to it. For one thing, paleo enthusiasts tend to overlook the fact that our ancestors weren’t in the best of health in their time. The suffered from infectious diseases, parasites, and hardening of the arteries, to name a few. While we all know full well that overly processed foods are damaging to our bodies, the paleo diet also cuts out grains, legumes, and dairy, which can have health benefits too.

The Downside

Doing Something Right

Even as experts vary in their opinions about the diet, it seems to be working rather well for Cooper. Due to the success of the diet with her, she decided to raise her baby in the same way. While eating healthy is a great habit to have, how good is it for a baby? Is there any research showing how it can affect a child on the diet?

Doing Something Right

Being Careful

Just to be on the safe side, Cooper made sure to consult with a doctor about diet first and whether it would be safe for a baby. Not much information exists about the topic, so her doctor cautioned her about putting her baby on the diet. Cooper decided to raise her baby on the diet, only allowing herself one exception to ensure her baby will grow up in the healthiest way possible.

Being Careful

The Exception To The Rule

While Cooper decided to put her baby on the diet, she decided to make one exception to ensure her baby is fully healthy. For the first few months after giving birth, Cooper breastfed her baby girl. As babies aren’t capable of eating raw vegetables or meat, Cooper allowed this exception. Aside from this, Cooper went to her doctor in order to be notified of other risks that the paleo diet may cause.

The Exception To The Rule

Homemade

There are many paleo recipes for baby formulas you can make at home. Although, there are experts who say not all those recipes are safe for newborns. For instance, one formula recipe by celebrity chef Pete Evans was deemed unsafe by a nutritionist who said it can “cause permanent damage and possibly result in death.” As a result, chef Evans had no choice but to change the recipe before his book was published due to the fact that the recipe did not meet legal standards set for a baby formula. Originally, the recipe contained high levels of nutrients that babies cannot digest at such a young age.

Homemade

Make-Your-Own Baby Food

Generally, once a parent weans their baby off breastmilk they turn to mass-produced jars of baby food. Cooper refused to feed the jarred food to her baby. Instead, she chose to make her own food for Grace. Cooper wanted her daughter to receive the right nutrients from a natural source rather than processed foods. Making homemade baby food is by no means anything new, as many parents do the same for their babies. The question is, will the paleo food Cooper makes be good for baby Grace?

Make-Your-Own Baby Food

The Diet

Even before Grace was weaned off breastmilk, Cooper had fed her healthy foods such as vegetables and organic chicken. Once Grace was eating solids, Cooper prepared meals according to the Paleo diet guidelines. This included foods that were free of unnatural processing, sugars, and preservatives. As a whole, those foods are much healthier than commercial baby foods you can find in the supermarket. Cooper still wasn’t sure how the diet would affect her daughter Grace.

The Diet

One-Of-A-Kind

Cooper uploaded photos of Grace and the meals she prepared for her on a regular basis to her Instagram. In one image, Grace is eating a piece of broccoli happily, a food a lot of kids tend not to like. At 13-months-old Grace was eating healthier meals than most adults do. Yet one question was still unanswered, was Grace getting all the nutrients she needed?

One-Of-A-Kind

Unconventional Snacks

By 13-months-old, Grace was eating things like sauerkraut, quinoa porridge, and chia pudding. A lot of these foods are typically ones that children don’t like much. What’s more impressive is all the foods Grace hasn’t eaten. Grace has never eaten carbs or sugary treats children tend to love. What we’re still wondering, is how does Grace feel about the food she eats? According to Cooper, “she loves it.”

Unconventional Snacks

The Effects

The effects the diet has had on Grace were amazing, according to her mother. Cooper claims that Grace has only gotten sick once, and it was just a mild cold. Considering children tend to get sick often when they’re young, this feat is incredible. Speaking with the Daily Mail, Cooper said, “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 continued and said that Grace’s immune system and health were great thanks to the Paleo diet.

The Effects

Exceptional Health

People speculate that the reason Grace hasn’t gotten sick is because Cooper is just an overprotective mother who shields her daughter from getting sick. In regards to catching illnesses, Cooper says, “It’s certainly not because I’m not shielding her from any of that stuff,” she continues, “I absolutely think a nutrient-dense diet is giving her a strong immune system.” Cooper feels very strongly about the diet, to the point where she wrote several cookbooks with Paleo recipes.

Exceptional Health

A Long-Term Decision

Although she’s serious about her and her daughter’s health, Cooper isn’t as strict as she may sound. She says she isn’t “vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, carb-free or any other food ‘denomination’ in its entirety.” Cooper prefers to take bits and pieces from various options in order to create the best possible meals for her and Grace. “I take what I like from different food approaches and recipes and adapt it to suit what makes me feel good,” she said. Even though having kids not eat certain foods is very tricky, Cooper is prepared to stick with the diet long-term. What we want to know is if Cooper is prepared for when Grace will break the diet at places such as birthday parties.

A Long-Term Decision

Staying Realistic

Even while raising Grace on a  relatively strict diet, Cooper is aware that she will eat other foods every now and again. This fact doesn’t upset Cooper, as she acknowledges that eventually, Grace will eat sugary foods. On this matter, Cooper says, “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”. This is all well and good, but what Cooper still didn’t take into account is what will she do once Grace is old enough to make her own dietary decisions?

Staying Realistic

Healthy Choices

Believing she is raising her daughter in an educated and healthy way, Cooper plans on letting Grace decide for herself what she’ll eat once she’s older. Cooper admits that there probably come a time where Grace comes home from a friend’s party not feeling well after having eaten too many cupcakes or sweets. She hopes that will be a learning experience for Grace, that maybe the next time she will eat less sugary foods. As is with everything in life, there is always a positive and negative side, as Cooper clearly saw by all the criticism she faced online.

Healthy Choices

The Response

While Cooper fully stands behind her parenting decisions, once the word of her method reached the internet, a lot of people had something to say about it. Even though there was positive feedback from some, a lot of responses were critical of the choice to put such a young child on a strict diet. This feedback was difficult for Cooper, and with good reason.

The Response

Confused

What confused Shannon Cooper the most was the fact that most parents are completely fine with their kids eating fast foods and other foods with no nutritional value, but they criticize her for feeding her own daughter nutritional foods. “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”, Cooper said.

Confused

Online Attention

Cooper’s parenting method soon gained a lot of attention online, and people from all over the world were giving their feedback to her decision. There were several experts as well who commented on the topic. Dr. Rosemary Stanton, a dietician, spoke up about the topic to caution parents against raising their kids with such strict diets, saying “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”. The dietician also recommended to include grains and legumes like alfalfa and chickpeas in Grace’s diet.

Online Attention

Normal Food

With all the criticism Cooper has received online, she believes Grace is as healthy as she can be and loves the food she eats. Cooper claims the food she and Grace eat is perfectly normal and nothing that other people wouldn’t eat. “[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.” Cooper said. There was still one important thing that Cooper was aware of that even the people against her method just couldn’t ignore.

Normal Food

What Is Important

What is most important to Cooper is that Grace is as happy and healthy as she can be. Now three years old, Grace still has only gotten sick once in her life. One thing is certain: Cooper must be doing something 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,” Cooper explained to the Daily Mail.

What Is Important

Spreading The Word

Living in Australia, Cooper works as a food, health, and wellness coach. She runs her own site named ‘myfoodreligion’. Cooper works to make people’s quality of life better with food, as she has a background in science and animal health which aid her in this goal. In addition, Cooper offers private classes and workshops to help people learn how to prepare healthy foods. She teaches people which foods are best and which to avoid.

Spreading The Word

They Grow Up So Fast

Grace already started kindergarten in August 2018. Cooper shared her emotions with her fans and followers online, saying how odd and amazing it was for her to watch her baby growing up. Of course, the thing that amazes her more than anything is how healthy Grace looks and feels, as Cooper credits the Paleo lifestyle for that. “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,” Cooper wrote.

They Grow Up So Fast

While On Vacation

So far, Grace is loving and sticking to her Paleo diet, even when vacationing in Mykonos, Greece. Cooper doesn’t want to force anything on Grace in any way. Snacking on fresh strawberries, they look happy as anything. Cooper believes that life can be enjoyable while on the Paleo diet. To prove it, she has countless recipes on her blog and social media and her dishes look amazing.

While On Vacation

A Foodie

While the Paleo diet may seem restrictive, Cooper believes that it still has room for indulgence. She shares delicious-looking recipes with her followers on Instagram. For instance, these “Nut Free No Bake Fig & Quinoa Bars” are a great and healthy snack to curb any cravings. While she advocates for healthy eating, Cooper isn’t much of a fan of standing in the kitchen for long periods of time cooking, which is reflected in these no-bake bars. She claims that healthy foods can be just as tasty if not better than sugary foods.

A Foodie

The Rest

Aside from the Paleo diet, Cooper explains on her social media platforms that healthy living is so much more than the right foods. She advocates meditation and plenty of sleep, as both those things can contribute to our health as much, if not more, than healthy eating. Cooper uses her Instagram account to share advice and hears friendly feedback from her followers. The means of communication, honesty, and openness is something she wants to pass onto her daughter.

The Rest

Mother-Daughter Bonding

Cooper shares her lifestyle and diet decisions with her daughter as she goes in order to teach Grace about health in the right way. This way, once Grace gets older, she will be able to make informed decisions for herself. This photo is a still from a video on Cooper’s Instagram where she lets Grace unbox a goodie box full of produce from Goodnessmebox, a brand that has a monthly subscription box sharing the latest organic and healthy foods. This subscription allows Cooper to try new products and share her opinions of them on her site.

Mother-Daughter Bonding

 

Only The Best

When it comes to skincare and lifestyle brands, Cooper only promotes only the best of them that she has tried for herself. These brands include PrimalThenics, a home workout brand, Cleanse Skincare, a natural skincare brand that doesn’t use toxins or chemicals in their products, and Crema Coffee Garage which is an organic coffee brand. These brands are just a few that Cooper swears by and uses herself on a regular basis.

Only The Best

A Woman Of Many Talents

Shannon Cooper has many talents and interests. Aside from being a mother, a self-proclaimed coffee lover, bacon addict, and a health and wellness coach, she also loves writing and sharing her own recipes. She’s written three books so far containing amazingly delicious Paleo recipes. Her goal is to show people that cutting out dairy, gluten, sugar, and grains can be attainable by replacing those foods with other whole foods to create great looking and tasting foods.

A Woman Of Many Talents

A Happy Gut

Cooper loves to travel all over Australia and spread the word about health and wellness with the Paleo diet. She often pairs up with other health bloggers and experts to chat with them about the diet and lifestyle. Cooper feels that Paleo had changed her life for the better, and cleansing her gut. While a lot of people have been negative about her message, she likes to clarify what being on Paleo is actually like without holding anything back.

A Happy Gut

Matching Mother-Daughter Duo

In a very sweet manner, Cooper and Grace love matching – with everything. From matching unicorn pajamas to healthy eating and cooking aprons, they love sporting matching looks. A reason Cooper shares adorable photos of Grace on social media is to let her followers see how happy Grace truly is. Lots of people criticize the diet and claim it is a form of abuse, but Cooper emphasized that Grace is happy and healthy, with nothing being forced on her in any way.

Matching Mother-Daughter Duo

The Bright Side

There are plenty of people who agree with Cooper about the means of maintaining the Paleo diet. As is seen on her site, there are many positive testimonials. Cooper doesn’t believe in forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to, but she knows full well that once people give her method a try, they get hooked almost instantly.

The Bright Side

 

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