As most parents learn to deal with the changes that come along with having kids, they find themselves giving in to their children’s impulses more often than not, or find themselves so overwhelmed with everything they need to do with children in tow that it’s just easier for them to pick up food that comes in boxes and jars. But even when you don’t expect it, these are all loaded with sugar. But based on fitness expert Shan’s dietary choices, there was no way her kid would have any of that. Now, at four years old, all of her work has had an incredible effect on the young girl.
Getting The Glow
Grace Cooper may be just like your average child, but there’s one big thing she’s been missing in her life: sugar. Grace’s mom, Shannon, has chosen to keep her young daughter away from processed sugars, and the results are astounding.
Grace may look incredible at two years old, but it’s all due to her mom’s hard work. How she built a plan that didn’t include sugar wasn’t easy, especially as she was caring for an infant full-time.
Calling To Health
Shannon Cooper wasn’t always so strict about not eating sugar. Her upbringing was far more similar to the rest of the masses.
Even if it wasn’t entirely based around things like fast food, Shan grew up with access to plenty of the best junk food money can buy. Though the ease of preparation certainly makes it appealing to many, something about the processed foods we eat now show that we can’t forget about nature’s bounty when it comes to nourishment.
Down In The Fields
Shan herself was always drawn to the earth. When it came time for her to begin her studies at university, Shan found herself interested in agricultural sciences, which taught her a lot about the health of animals.
In turn, she began to understand something about human biology, even though that wasn’t the original focus of her studies. It would also help to shape her perspective on food as her own future began to take shape.
Kicking Through Stones
Shan still found she needed an extra touch of inspiration in her life, for which she turned to fitness. It seemed natural for Shan, who loved being active, to dedicate a portion of her life to bringing fitness to others.
Studying the sciences weren’t simply enough for Shan, and she felt urged to return to her studies in order to get certified as a fitness trainer. Shan was thrilled with the idea of teaching boxing and bootcamp classes, but she still needed something more.
On Top Of It All
As important as fitness is on its own, it also needs to be accompanied by a savvy diet if you truly want to meet your goals.
We may like to believe that working out a certain amount means that we can eat whatever we want, but the truth is 80% of our health comes down to diet, while only 20% comes down to fitness. Shan continued to revamp her philosophy of food, which she would ultimately choose to pass down to her daughter.
Allergic To Everything
Shan didn’t simply fall into such a strict diet by accident. For as long as she could remember, she struggled to manage severe food allergies, which often left her unable to eat a wide swath of foods that were otherwise part of an average diet.
The more she learned about struggling with these restrictions, the more she realized that perhaps, she could eliminate other foods that she was coming to realize may have a negative effect on her health.
Against The Grains
Shan began to read up on various different diet plans in an attempt to come up with something that would work for her body. The more she read, the more she began to believe that she would need to cut out dairy, grains, and definitely processed sugar.
This new diet extended to giving up all processed foods in favor of cooking at home. Though it might sound drastic to the uninitiated, many people who have severe allergies are already used to this life.
Journey To The Past
One of the factors that had the biggest impact on Shan’s thinking were the books by the celebrity chef, Pete Evans, who had written several books on paleo living.
According to the paleo philosophy, humans need to go back to their roots and eat the way we did in the past. However, the sorts of foods allowed by the paleo diet were even more restricted than what Shan was used to. She just had to try it out.
Like A Caveman
Eating according to the paleo philosophy is not simply eating like our ancestors did in the 19th century, or even the 13th century. While people of the past still eat more plant foods than many people today, at least during the warmer months, many of them also found themselves subsisting on the bare minimum of bread and grains.
The paleo preachers out there believe that in order to fix our health, we need to return to the diet of the hunter-gatherers.
A Tenuous Basis
Though the idea that we can fix everything that ails us by cutting grains and dairy sounds like a relatively easy fix, many archeologists have been quick to point out that the historical accuracy of the diet claims are not as true as the diet’s adherents want us to believe.
Many medical professionals caution that cutting out “farmed” foods like whole grains and legumes have no basis in our actual history or physiology. Shan, however, found she never felt better.
Doctors In The House
When discussing the paleo lifestyle with dieticians, many will explain that there isn’t any proof that eating paleo is any better for humans than simply eating a balanced diet.
While many can incorporate dairy or grains into their 21st-century diets and still remain exceptionally healthy, medical professionals are less against the idea of cutting out processed sugar. In fact, it seems this avoidance of sugary products was the true culprit behind Shan’s newfound health, but she would take it to an extreme.
Better Than Bacon
According to Shan’s website My Food Religion, Shan considers herself a “coffee & bacon addict.” The idea that bacon can be part of a healthy diet is one of the biggest draws for people who choose to try out the paleo diet, especially if they’ll be required to try cutting out many of their other favorite foods.
However, medical research might not support this exciting factor, showing that processed meats are still ultimately carcinogenic. In fact, many recommend swamping these meats for plant-based proteins…
Expanding The Clan
When Shan had been following a vaguely paleo diet for several years, she and her husband realized they were ready to add to their family.
After giving birth to her daughter Grace, Shan had a choice to make with regards to what she decided to feed her baby, in addition to the many other facets of parenting she would have to consider. She couldn’t imagine a life where she fed her precious daughter anything different than what she herself ate.
Processed By Hand
As young Grace began to adventure into the world of food, Shan decided that she didn’t want to spoil her health by feeding her whatever was found in the jars of baby food sitting on the store shelves.
She began concocting her own recipes, pureeing meats and vegetables in their kitchen for her daughter to scarf down. Even now that Grace has grown older, she doesn’t eat child meals, she eats much of what Shan eats herself.
All The White Stuff
One of the most important things for Shan when it came to Grace’s food was that for as long as she could help it, Grace would not eat anything that was processed outside of the home.
That especially meant sugar. Of course, Shan wasn’t going to restrict her growing daughter from eating natural sources of sugars, like fruit, but she didn’t want her to eat food that was loaded with added sugar. The effect would be amazing.
Grazing Like Cattle
While some thought Grace’s diet sounded too limited if she wasn’t eating sugar, grains, or dairy, the variety that Shan fed Grace would fetch a high price at any modern cafe.
For example, Grace’s breakfasts generally consist of eggs that had lovingly been fried in coconut oil accompanied by a selection of whatever cooked vegetables they had leftover from the evening before. Everyone who met Grace was shocked by how willing she was to eat so many different vegetables.
Germs At Bay
One of the better measures of health, at least for Shan was just how infrequently Grace got sick. She explained to Daily Mail Australia, “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.”
Shan then added, “It’s certainly not because I’m shielding her from any of that stuff. I absolutely think a nutrient-dense diet is giving her a strong immune system.”
A Gut Feeling
There is a specific connection that might actually be protecting little Grace from illness. It’s one of Shan’s latest interests, but many scientists who study nutrition and disease are also waking up to the importance of the gut biome.
While that sounds unappealing, it actually refers to the mix of good bacteria that lives in our digestive systems. There’s some evidence that shows that diets high in vegetables, much like Grace’s, will encourage the right biome to prevent all sorts of disease.
Lightening Her Stance
Shan still recognizes that while her daughter might be young now, she won’t always have the same control over her diet. She shared with Daily Mail that she plans to relax the rules as Grace gets older.
“She’s going to go to kids’ parties and eat what’s there,” Shan revealed. “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.'” Then again, she’ll never know until the time comes…
Foundation Of Confidence
If there’s anything that Grace takes away from spending her early years eating exceptionally healthy, it’s how to keep her emotions out of what she eats.
As Shan tells it, “I don’t want there to be any disordered eating around food…I want Grace to eat what makes her feel good.” She hopes that by showing her that healthy eating is important, but that more important than anything is to eat what makes her feel good.
Only Way To Learn
As Grace continues to grow and pass new milestones, there’s one that Shan isn’t exactly looking forward to. She explained that when she finally starts going to parties with other kids, “She’ll be old enough to know she can choose whatever she wants to eat.
She’ll probably come home 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.”
For whatever reason, any parenting choice that seems to deviate from the established norms often draws public criticism, especially when it’s publicized on the internet.
Though Shan celebrates the fact that Grace has never had sugar, others haven’t taken so kindly to the idea. “[Why] eating real food is such a scandalous topic is just bizarre,” Shan said, but when it came to eating fast food, no one bats an eye. Based on how Grace looks now, we can’t blame her.
Sugar Free And Me
At four years old, Grace still mostly follows her mom’s eating habits, though they’ve both relaxed a lot since Shannon’s earliest days following the paleo mantra.
No matter what happens though, Shan is intent on preparing as much nutrient dense food for her daughter as possible, even when life has other plans. The girls still eat together and move together, following Shan’s philosophy of listening to what their bodies truly need, even if sometimes it’s not always what they want.