Just like any other mother, Shan Cooper from Brisbane, Australia, only wants the best for her child. Her daughter Grace is now two years old and at first glance she looks like a normal child. She is very bright and likes to play with other children.
But unlike the other kids, Grace has only once come down with a cold. “She plays with many children who have runny noses and coughs that easily spread germs. But unlike those children, Grace doesn’t come down with these ailments,” said the proud mother. But how is it that this child has a much stronger immune system than the other children?
Shan put her child on a somewhat unusual diet from the day she was born and firmly believes it’s what has been keeping her daughter so healthy. Shan herself had many food allergies until she changed her eating habits. Now she feels much healthier and doesn’t suffer from food-related problems like she did in the past. If changing her diet helped her so much, she was convinced it would also benefit her daughter.
Both mother and child adhere strictly to the “paleo diet.” This diet, also called the “caveman diet” or “stone-age diet,” focuses on foods that prehistoric humans would have eaten and is generally heavy on meats, vegetables, fruits, and eggs. It cuts out grains and dairy entirely, along with sugar and anything processed. Avid fans of the diet strongly believe that lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases can be avoided with such a regimen.
Grace doesn’t eat any processed food, candy or bread and there is no cow’s milk in her diet either. Her mother does breastfeed her twice a day though. A typical meal for Grace might be chicken grilled in coconut oil, a sweet potato, and broccoli, for example. Even though Shan is convinced that the nutrient-rich diet is responsible for Grace’s strong immune system, some nutritionists warn that a diet like this may not be best for all children.
Without dairy products, grains and legumes, a great many vitamins, nutrients and fiber, which children need for healthy development and a balanced diet, may be lacking. Shan realizes she may need to introduce dairy into her daughter’s diet at some stage, but for now she sees the major benefits of the paleo diet and has chosen to pass it on to her daughter.
Shan can’t understand why some people are so critical of her daughter’s diet. At the end of the day, she is feeding her child “real” food instead of processed food. It makes no sense to her that people criticize her for giving her child a plate of vegetables, but no one thinks to criticize a parent who gives their child a plate full of bread, sweets and processed food. She knows the time will come when her daughter will be invited to birthday parties and be offered cakes and treats and she will not stop her from trying it. She only hopes her child will learn to self-regulate how much of it she consumes.
While Shan speaks highly of the paleo diet and urges all parents to consider what they’re feeding their children, she doesn’t begrudge anyone the food they choose to feed their families.
The thing about sugary and processed foods is that they often taste good, and when Grace is exposed to such foods she will undoubtedly pig out on these at first. All that Shan hopes is that she will quickly realize it doesn’t make you feel good. We all know that sickly or queasy feeling after binge eating. It is far healthier to encourage balanced diets and a healthier lifestyle. Kids will thank their parents for it in the long-term!