Mothers spend their entire lives trying to figure out what is best for their children. Unfortunately, this can be a bit difficult, especially because of the incredible advances in technology that we’ve made. People on the internet tend to have an extremely strong opinion about what others are doing, particularly when it comes to how other people choose to parent their children.
The woman in this story knows about people’s persistent opinions all too well. When she happily posted her feelings about her lifestyle and diet on the internet, she was met with resistance. Because she was raising her child differently than other people, this woman received a lot of negativity from trolls on the internet. Does that sound a bit familiar to you?
Any time you put something on the internet you have to expect the possibility of backlash from people that think differently than you. Whether it’s a picture you posted on your social media account or something that you wrote on your blog, there’s going to be people that disagree with you. It’s silly, but that’s just the way of the world.
Sadly, people can’t seem to simply disagree and just go on with their day without making sure that everyone knows that they have an opinion. They just have to make sure that you know that they think that’s wrong and how they would live your life better. This woman, who was just trying to share things about her life with the public, was force fed other people’s opinions at an incredible rate.
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.
Imagine being told that everything that you believed you were doing right for your child was wrong and neglectful. A lot of people in that type of situation would rethink their choices and reevaluate their life, but not this mama. This mama had a completely different path for her daughter in mind.
Instead of wavering in the face of criticism, she stood strong in her convictions and continued to raise her daughter the way that she believed her daughter should be raised. Hopefully, everything turned out well, because the effects of this situation could be disastrous if things went sour.
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.
There are an extraordinary amount of different diets that people can choose from. Some people are vegan and others choose to eat vegetarian. There are some people that choose to go on a low-carb diet but eat as much protein and fats as they’d like. And others choose to eat a raw food diet. You see, there are so many different diets out there, so why did this woman receive such harsh criticism from people that she had never even met?
Typically, people agree that children should be on a well-balanced diet, but a lot of those same people also believe that children should be allowed to have candy and soda. Which isn’t exactly aligning with that well-balanced diet concept. Since this little girl was a bit different than the others, there obviously must be something wrong with her. Little did the naysayers know that this little girl was going to go far.
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?
Processed foods, which include any kind of food that’s been chemically or mechanically altered before it reaches your table, have a negative impact on the human body. Even minimally processed foods, such as frozen fruits and vegetables, can cause you to suffer from poor health conditions.
Science shows that processed foods can wreak havoc on a healthy body. Science also shows that processed foods can increase a person’s risk of cancer. Processed foods are often designed to include ingredients that can cause addiction, such as salt, sugar, and fat. And to be completely honest, processed foods contain such an overwhelming amount of artificial ingredients that you have to wonder how they can even call it food at all.
Shan understood all of this as she prepared to give birth to her daughter. Would Shan enforce the Paleo diet on her daughter, or would she allow her little one to eat differently than her? Only time and research would give Shan the right guidance.
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.
“Paleo” is a term used for the word Paleolithic. A Paleo diet, also known as a “caveman diet”, is a diet that follows the strict guidelines of what early humans would eat. So pretty much anything that can be hunted or gathered is an acceptable thing to eat, according to the Paleo diet. Even though you’re eating plenty of foods that are good for you, such as fruits and vegetables, you still have to make sure that you get plenty of exercise to get the most out of the Paleo diet.
People who stick to the Paleo diet believe that humans are so unhealthy because they’ve strayed away from the way our ancestors ate. They believe that if we returned to the hunter-gatherer mentality, and stopped eating processed garbage, then humans would be a lot healthier and happier.
When you look at it that way, going on the Paleo diet makes so much sense, but that’s not where people seem to have a problem. You see, people on the Paleo diet have a strict restriction against dairy products, which is why Shan received so much negativity about feeding her daughter a Paleo diet. But those people didn’t really understand what was going on.
Breastfeeding is a woman’s personal choice and often times it’s a very sensitive topic. Shan chose to breastfeed her daughter to improve her nutritional intake. Shan didn’t believe in feeding her baby milk from a cow, and one other thing she put her foot down about was 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. Fortunately, Shan’s background helped her figure out how to avoid this.
There’s no telling when people decided that it was perfectly acceptable to stuff their children with foods filled with sugar. Instead of buying fruit, which is a great source of natural sugar, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber, some parents are choosing fruit-flavored candies, sodas, and sugary cereals.
It’s really no wonder why so many children are overweight and unhealthy. It’s up to the parents to set up a healthy diet for their kids, but unfortunately, they’d rather make their kids happy with sugary snacks and microwaved dinners. Fortunately, Shan refused to give in to the hype.
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.
Shan wasn’t just dealing with stress when it came to what she was feeding her daughter, she was also dealing with stress in other areas of her life. Just when she thought she was living the dream life, everything came crashing down around her and she began to feel like she was drowning.
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.
Being a single parent is hard enough, let alone trying to figure out how to afford a strict diet for you and your child. There’s no denying that processed foods and fast foods are the most convenient and cheapest ways to eat, but Shan wasn’t the type of woman to give up when everything in her was telling her to continue pushing.
If you’ve ever been in the position where it seems easier to curl up into a ball instead of getting up and making changes, then you can understand Shan’s position. Her husband had cheated on her, she was receiving criticism for the way that she was raising her daughter, and she needed to figure out how to provide for her daughter. How would she be able to manage it all?
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?
If you’ve never experienced being a single parent, then you can’t truly understand what Shan was going through. As a strong mother, she had to push her feelings of defeat and heartbreak to the side, and pull through for the sake of her child. Even though Shan had been pushed down, criticized, and cheated on, she refused to lay on the floor and admit failure.
Instead, she turned her frown upside down and got with the program. As she pulled her bootstraps up, she knew that no matter what she was experiencing, she had to do what was right for her child. This is a sign of a strong, determined mother. But how did things turn out for the little family?
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?
There are still a lot of health professionals that are skeptical about the benefits of sticking to a Paleo diet, but those that are in support of it have wonderful things to say. People believe that the Paleo diet is extremely beneficial because it cuts out empty carbs and calories, it gives you more energy, it helps detox your body, and it increases your intake of healthy foods. All of that sounds amazing, so why are there so many skeptics?
First off, experts claim that the Paleo diet is based on pseudoscience, which means that no one has real proof that early humans were actually thriving because they ate this way. These experts believe that supporters of the Paleo diet are living a false dream of what they believe to be the truth about our ancestors.
Another point that skeptics have brought forward is that early humans may have eaten meat, but they didn’t really eat a whole lot of it. In fact, early humans ate more fruits and nuts than anything else. Also, eating grains is a direct violation of the Paleo principles. But an ancient oat discovery pokes some holes in the Paleo diet. Some evidence has emerged that people during the Paleolithic era were actually grinding oats into flour. So that’s what many experts have to say about the Paleo diet, but the proof is in the pudding, so let’s find out how little Grace is doing!
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.
People who support the Paleo diet believe that the increase of certain vitamins, such as vitamins A, C, and D, provide a person with the proper nutrition to fight of infections, such as the common cold. Although those vitamins aren’t exclusive to the Paleo diet, they certainly do a great job at boosting the immune system. So if it’s not exclusive to the Paleo diet, is that actually a good argument for supporters of the Paleo diet?
Skeptics will argue that you can increase those vitamins without having to get rid of some of the more important food groups that are eliminated from the Paleo diet, like legumes and grains. It seems that people are divided when it comes to the health benefits of switching to a Paleo diet, but let’s get back to how Grace is doing.
The question still 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.
Every parent goes through a time when their children choose to rebel against everything that they’re trying to enforce. This becomes exceptionally prevalent when the child begins to make friends that live a different lifestyle. Even though Shan has wonderful plans for her daughter’s life, how will she handle any kind of resistance coming from her daughter?
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.”
More often than not, when you push a child to live a certain way, they want to do the total opposite. But luckily, it seems that Shan has an open mind when it comes to raising her daughter. Now that we understand that Shan is willing to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to her daughter, how does Shan deal with going to places that don’t support her chosen diet?
Does she refuse to eat what is provided to her? Does she act like a bit of a food snob? Or does she go with the ebb and flow of things and eat what’s being offered? A lot of Shan’s critics have accused her of being stuck up about her food choices, but let’s see what Shan has to say about the topic.
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.
You see, even though Shan encourages healthy living in her home, she understands that she may not be able to follow her diet everywhere she goes. If she allows herself and her daughter a bit of flexibility when it comes to their diet, why are people still being so judgemental about what she’s doing?
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.
Unfortunately, there are several medical experts who have a major problem with how strict Shan chooses to regulate her daughter’s diet. If so many medical professionals have all of these negative things to say about the Paleo diet, why does Shan feel so strongly about following it? Is she trying to prove a point with her daughter? Or does she just not care what other people have to say?
Either way, it goes without saying the Shan has the right to do as she chooses with her child. After receiving so much criticism, you would think that Shan would seriously reconsider her lifestyle choices. Surprisingly, Shan has stayed firm in her convictions, but why?
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.”
It would appear that Shan just wants people to mind their business, which really isn’t too much to ask. If all she wants to do is feed her child healthy food for her body and her mind, then how does Shan feel about what other people feed their children? You would assume that Shan would want to pressure other people to follow her diet, but she’s decided to take a completely different route.
“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.
Even though Shan has received an overwhelming amount of criticism about the way she’s raising her daughter, she has chosen to continue to do what she believes is right. Just like any other parent wishes to do. We commend her for standing strong in her beliefs. And before you place your judgment, do a little bit of research on the topic. You might learn some information that could be valuable in your own life!