Mother And Coach
Shannon lives in Australia and is obsessed with fitness. That’s not surprising when she works as a health coach. People know Shannon from her blog but once she had her child and became a mother, her perspective on a few things changed.
After having her baby in 2014, Shannon wanted to raise her daughter differently to everyone else. She was prepared for public ridicule but she didn’t know just how much of an outcry she would actually cause.
Doing Something Wrong
A lot of people told Shannon that she was doing something wrong. They said what she was doing was crazy and could end up doing her child more harm than good. The comments weren’t just from people in her area but from the other side of the world too.
A lot of self-proclaimed “experts” gave their unsolicited advice. Shannon still decided to trust her instincts and keep it up. Years after refusing to change her parenting style, it’s clear just how it impacted her child.
Shannon felt she was experienced enough to know what impact food has on the human body and used the “you are what you eat” adage. Shannon’s reasoning was simple: there are healthy foods that are good for you and then there are unhealthy foods that are the opposite.
The devoted mom took these beliefs to heart in her adult life. She thought about these things every day and based her day-to-day life around it. It’s obvious then that when she had a baby she decided to make them practice the same beliefs she has. But there would be repercussions in the end.
Different To Other Children
Shannon’s child is named Grace and after enrolling in kindergarten, she found she was a bit different from the other children in the class. Shannon had put her on a very strict diet since she was born. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it did have a big impact.
Grace was different from other kids in the sense that she had never had sugar before. When she was a baby she only ate natural food. Grace didn’t really get along with her classmates and their parents were curious about her.
Grace was used to her diet and felt that it was nothing extreme. Shannon got the diet from a book she read on allergies since hers had been bothering her for most of her life.
Shannon was tired of feeling bad all the time, so she decided she would change that with the diet. She stopped eating gluten, dairy, and any kind of processed food, especially sugars.
More Than Meets The Eye
Shannon not only believed that “you are what you eat” but also believed that you get everything from the meat of an animal, including everything they ate while they were alive. So it wasn’t just “you are what you eat” but also whatever your meat ate too.
Using this logic, Shannon decided to only buy omega-3 rich, free-range eggs and chicken. When she had Grace, she wanted to show her the importance of what you eat. She would show Grace a healthy relationship with food.
Shannon felt she knew a lot about animal and plant health, being an experienced wellness coach. With both the knowledge and personal experience under her belt, Shannon felt that she understood things pretty well.
The writer tells people in her blog how important it is to eat the right food and avoid the others. She hoped her values would be instilled in her daughter, but didn’t understand the repercussions it might have on her.
Shannon wouldn’t let anything sway her from her beliefs, not even any supposed risk to her daughter. She was determined to stay on her path and couldn’t let what she had built for herself and her followers be stripped down so easily.
She wouldn’t raise Grace the conventional way she saw so many other parents doing. But keeping her values while raising her baby left a lot of people questioning her methods.
A lot of mothers weren’t impressed when they heard Shannon had put her baby on a diet – especially since little Grace’s weight was completely normal. The diet Shannon had planned for her was put together long before she was conceived.
Shannon was a true believer of the Paleo diet and would see that Grace would grow up with these beliefs too. Grace wouldn’t be allowed to eat normal processed baby foods, nor could she even have milk. There was going to be a problem soon enough.
Ever since Grace was born, she’s been on a Paleo diet. The diet has plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. The diet was popular in the ’70s and has had a resurgence in recent years. But most people don’t actually know everything that a Paleo diet does to you.
“Paleo” is short for “Paleolithic” and is also called the “caveman diet.” The diet sees people only eat food that was around during the stone age. But Shannon didn’t factor in any risks to her child.
A Divisive Issue
The Paleo diet sounds good, in theory. Some nutritionists have praised the diet for championing real, whole, healthy foods rather than refined and processed foods. In fact, there have even been some studies that suggest that cavemen were healthier than the average modern American.
Cavemen were thought to eat three times more produce, foods richer in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Shannon thought it sounded like the best way to raise a healthy, happy child. But others weren’t convinced – including her doctor.
The problem with raising a newborn on the Paleo diet is that its effects have never really been monitored on infants before. However, Shannon 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.
Shannon had rigorously followed the Paleo diet for years before the birth of her baby, and she was a convert – she felt healthier than ever! Of course, she wanted her baby to feel the same way. But her controversial decision to raise her baby on the Paleo diet attracted judgment for several different reasons.
The main criticism Shannon faced was that the diet was designed for adults. How could she know if it would be appropriate for a newborn baby? Would Grace develop normally? Shannon tried to ignore the opinions of others, but many doctors couldn’t hold back.
Despite the Paleo diet’s restrictions on dairy consumption, Grace’s pediatrician convinced Shannon to breastfeed her daughter to improve her nutritional intake. Shannon 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. Although she had compromised on breastfeeding her baby, there was another piece of advice that Shannon completely ignored.
While many mothers are shocked to find out that Paleo advocates do not agree with any forms of dairy, including breast milk, most parents on a “normal” diet find it natural to transition from breast milk to formula after their baby’s first year.
Although there are a few recipes for Paleo formulas floating around on the internet, Shannon decided not to follow these. And it was probably a good thing she didn’t.
Celebrity Paleo chef Pete Evans has developed one of these Paleo-friendly baby formulas. But a nutritionist’s opinion was that it could cause “permanent damage and possibly result in death.”
That’s because the Paleo baby formula didn’t contain the right nutrients for a growing baby, and the nutrients it did contain were completely unavailable for babies to digest. Still, Shannon was rigid in following the other rules of the Paleo diet.
No Baby Food
No sugar for Grace meant no processed baby food when she had weaned off breast milk. And while canned baby food is not known to cause harm, it does contain sugar and preservatives. Shannon insisted on preparing all her baby’s meals herself, according to Paleo guidelines.
The well-meaning mom wanted to ensure that Grace started her life eating whole foods. But what would happen when Grace grew up?
What Could She Eat?
While Grace was still breastfeeding, Shannon started to slowly introduce her to the Paleo diet. She prepared tiny portions of organic chicken and vegetables and hoped that this would make it easier for Grace when it was time to move onto solids.
Since she sourced and made all the food by herself, the new mom was happy with the fact that she knew exactly what was going into her daughter’s body.
Each one of Grace’s meals was prepared without sugar or preservatives, and Shannon made sure that nothing was processed – like most baby food at the supermarket.
Now that she had committed to feeding Grace only Paleo foods, all she could do now was wait and see how her diet would affect her little girl as she grew up.
Watching Her Progress
Shannon documented everything from the day Grace was born on her blog. Fans and critics alike were able to see Grace’s progress from day one for themselves. She posted every meal she prepared on her blog and social media channels.
Her followers were surprised to see little Grace happily snack on raw broccoli as soon as she learned to grasp things by herself. Most people commented that Grace ate more healthily than most adults. But by the time Grace was 13 months old, many critics began to voice their concerns.
A Paleo Baby
Grace, who was now just over a year old, had never even tasted a carbohydrate or sugary treat, unlike other kids her age. She was used to a diet of fruits, vegetables, and a few more items that were usually reserved for a more refined palette.
She ate sauerkraut, chia pudding, and quinoa porridge. Most children hate broccoli and sprouts, but this was the only diet Grace had ever known.
Watching And Waiting
Although skeptics find the concept of a baby on a Paleo diet strange and controversial, Shannon believes that it is not actually as radical as it appears to be. Critics and fans were waiting with bated breath to see exactly how Grace was doing.
Was she thriving and developing normally? And just what exactly did Grace eat on a typical day now that she was eating solids?
So, What Does She Eat?
At 13 months, Grace’s typical daily meal plan included a breakfast of eggs and vegetables from the previous night’s dinner. Lunch was usually veggies and roast chicken. For dinner, Grace would eat meals like spaghetti bolognese – only the noodles were made from zucchini.
Grace’s snacks always consisted of fruit instead of sugary treats or cakes. For Grace’s first birthday, Shannon made a Paleo-friendly strawberry panna cotta. But what will Grace look like when she’s older?
She Believes In What She’s Doing
Though people deemed her crazy, there is actually a method to Shannon’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 like she had all the tools at her disposal to succeed in her quest to feed Grace a healthy diet. But it hadn’t been easy. When Grace was eight months old, life had thrown a wrench in the whole plan.
Shannon 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.
Instead of succumbing to desperation, Shannon 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 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 First Noticeable Effects
Shannon 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 Shannon, Grace has only been sick once in her life, and 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.
But Can She Sustain It?
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, Shannon said that she’s not too worried about when Grace is exposed to non-Paleo foods.
Making Her Own Choices
Despite the strict diet, Shannon 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.”
Flexibility Is Key
Even though it sounds really strict and regimented, Shannon 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.
Voices Of Dissent
While Shannon was inundated with positive responses for raising Grace on a healthy diet, she also attracted a lot of negative comments. Once her story went viral, it seemed everyone on the internet had something to say about her decision to raise her baby on such a strict diet. Shannon later said that she doesn’t understand why there are still so many negative comments and why it’s such a big deal for them.
Shannon doesn’t get how parents can casually feed their kids fast food, but criticize her for making healthy food. “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.”
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 are 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.
Sticking To Her Guns
It’s probably safe to say that Shannon had already heard this type of criticism from other medical experts, but took it with a pinch of salt. In fact, she insisted that Grace is happy eating this food and has no idea why other people are critical or think it’s strange.
In the interview with Daily Mail Australia, she said, “What she eats now is not weird, not anything strange, that normal people wouldn’t eat. She loves it. I don’t feed her toast or cereal or anything like that. Again I think, ‘sure that stuff is not going to kill her.’ If she eats a piece of bread I’m not going to have a conniption.”
Shannon 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 (foods), knock your socks off.”
“I’m not going to internet troll you,” Shannon added. 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 sensible attitude towards food. Hopefully, that works out for Grace.
Grace is growing up fast and in August 2018, she started kindergarten. While many may be wondering what happened next, you’ll be happy to know that Grace seems to be thriving!
Shannon is still amazed at how fast Grace is growing and she realizes that soon the time will come for her to go to birthday parties with non-Paleo foods. Many might be wondering if Grace will decide to continue her mother’s healthy diet once she gets her first sugar fix.
So Far, So Good
Shannon said that she wouldn’t force Grace to stick to the diet if she decided to later on. Still, so far, fingers crossed, Grace seems to be happy to stick to the diet, even when she’s been exposed to sugary snacks.
When Shannon took Grace on a vacation to Mykonos, she was happy enough to snack on strawberries on the beach.
A Solid Foundation
Shannon teaches Grace about healthy living and hopes to instill her with ideas that she can take into the future. She has honest conversations with her about food and hopes that one day she’ll understand why she chose to put her on this diet.
Shannon also educates Grace about her career as a wellness coach and hopes to inspire her to make informed decisions when she’s older. It also helps her deepen the bond with her daughter.
Shannon insists that even on the Paleo diet you can still be indulgent, just with the right recipes. On her Instagram page and blog, she shares some of these indulgent Paleo snacks. These delicious-looking treats are actually pretty healthy “Nut Free No Bake Fig & Quinoa Bars.”
She recommends these as a healthy way to curb any cravings without added sugar and they are also quick and easy to prepare.
Listening To Your body
One unconventional concept that Shannon believes in is that you can eat whenever you want. Instead of sticking to the traditional concept of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she told the GoodnessMe Box Blog how “I have finally arrived at a place in my life that I feel like I can eat more intuitively rather than just eating because it’s ‘lunchtime’, etc.
“Some days I eat a huge brekkie, no lunch, and a big dinner. Other days I don’t feel hungry in the morning so I will eat my first meal around 11 am. I listen to my body and hunger signals.”
Shannon addressed the critics on her blog and anyone who reacted negatively to her decision to put Grace on the Paleo diet.
She wrote, “I’m a mom, a foodie, and a coffee and bacon addict. I have a background in science and animal health and have done a wellness coaching course. I am constantly researching nutrition and various ‘food religions’ and love to learn about food.”
My Food Religion
Shannon’s blog My Food Religion is filled with healthy recipes and ideas that incorporate various diets. She also offers individual classes and workshops to educate people on how to prepare healthy recipes and learn healthy lifestyle choices. Shannon insists in her blog that whilst she believes in wholesome nutrition, “healthy does NOT have to equal bland.”
She adds, “I love to cook nutritious, wholesome food that is preservative, additive, and artificial-everything free. I prefer to use ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible and have been through minimal processing.”
While Shannon is an avid Paleo champion, she also believes that changing your diet is just one of the ways to transition to a healthier lifestyle.
She advocates other healthy habits such as meditation and shares her knowledge of how to incorporate these wellness ideas into our daily lives on her Instagram page and blog. She also shares tips and honest reviews of products she tries.
Tried And Tested
Shannon has earned a reputation as a social media influencer. However, she still sticks to her values and insists that she wouldn’t just endorse a product she didn’t believe in.
She assures us that she tries and tests the products before giving an honest review to her fans.
Some products that Shannon has tried and tested for herself include home-workout brand PrimalThenics and natural skincare brand (with no chemicals or toxins) Cleanse Skincare.
Another brand that Shannon swears by is organic-coffee maker Crema Coffee Garage.
Gaining A Following
Shannon’s blog has been so successful that she decided to make her healthy recipes more accessible for her followers. So, she published several e-books with healthy recipes that offer advice about keeping in shape.
One thing she’s sure of is that the recipes she includes are dairy, gluten, sugar, and grain-free. They also look pretty delicious!
CBF Paleo Kids
Shannon is pretty pleased about the effects of the Paleo diet on her daughter Grace, so she hopes to inspire other parents to follow some of her healthy ideas, tips, and recipes for their kids with her e-books.
She also happens to have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. One of her e-books is titled: “CBF Paleo Kids: For people who really want to feed their kids well but can’t. Five ingredients or less. Real food for big kids and little ones.” Well, that’s one way to say it!
Shannon hopes to inspire and educate Grace by involving her in her healthy lifestyle choices and sharing her diet decisions with her. She hopes that by educating Grace from day one, Grace will be inspired to make healthy and informed decisions when she’s older.
On her Instagram she lets Grace unpack and test out new products, like this healthy and organic goodie box from Goodnessmebox. It’s also a great way for her to bond with her daughter.
Shannon admitted that one of the main reasons she champions the Paleo diet is that it transformed her own life for the better. She found this was the best way to cleanse her gut and feel healthy every day.
Shannon writes on her blog, “I have a huge passion for gut health & cannot get ENOUGH of learning all about the gut microbiome and how it affects so many aspects of our body!” In case you weren’t aware, the microbiome is the environment of microorganisms inside a living being. So now you know!
The Problem With Diets
On Shannon’s site My Food Religion, she does highlight how everybody is different, so there’s no “one diet fits all” rule – you have to find the right diet for your body. She explains, “The thing with food and nutrition is everyone’s body responds differently to different macro and micro-nutrients.
“You can’t ‘broad brush’ nutrition, which is why so many “diets” fail. They are not ‘one size fits all.’ Our digestive and physiological makeup is a direct result of a lifetime of conditioning: how many meals per day are you used to consuming, how large or small are your portions, have you consumed predominately carbs, proteins, or fats throughout your ‘eating life?’
She’s Still Learning
Shannon keeps it real with her followers and explains how she’s still learning and experimenting with healthy food, just like us.
“I hope you enjoy following me on this food journey. I am sure there will some ‘MasterChef’ moments, as well as some ‘DisasterChef’ ones (no comment required Dad!), so come along for the ride!”
Happy And Healthy
On the brighter side, Shannon has also received praise from many people about her lifestyle choices and decisions. On her blog, there are many testimonials from health experts and non-experts alike.
Shannon insists that she doesn’t like forcing people to do anything they don’t want to do, but prefers to educate and inspire. She also believes that once people try her healthy lifestyle, they’ll get hooked instantly.
Spreading The Word
Shannon is pretty enthusiastic about her lifestyle decisions. So she travels around Australia to spread the word and teams up with other health experts and bloggers to swap healthy diet tips and ideas.
Since Shannon switched to the Paleo diet, she feels it transformed her life for the better and she has a healthier gut. While some are still skeptical about the Paleo diet, Shannon uses her platform to reveal what Paleo is really about.
On Shannon’s site, she features a range of positive testimonials from other health experts. One of these is from Revie Jane, the owner of Crossfit Babes Miami, who said, “There’s no question that Shan’s recipes are delicious but she exudes passion when talking about it, so I was excited to see someone so excited to talk about food. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
“Shan also keeps it real, she doesn’t sugarcoat anything (pun totally intended) and lastly, she’s a mum of a gorgeous but busy toddler. She understands what “time poor” means, so her recipes are super easy for time-poor mums like myself.”
Not content with sharing healthy recipes on her site, spreading the word, or posting adorable matching mother-daughter photos on her site, Shannon also runs cooking workshops. She runs one-to-one and group sessions and has already proved to be successful. Luke, owner at Crossfit Iron Lion Sunshine Coast shared his feedback, saying, “Lots of great, easy-to-understand recipes, and nutritional information.
“The format was fun and interactive. The feedback from my members was awesome, everyone loved the experience and wants Shan back for our next challenge. Shan is highly knowledgeable and very passionate about what she does. She is also very charismatic with a great sense of humor and ability to engage with her audience.”
Shannon wants to spread her healthy message to as many people as possible, so she even offers a tailored coaching package. As part of her One Kitchen At A Time program, she offers one-to-one coaching “to suit each individual’s needs based on where you are at with your health and wellness journey and what you really want help with.
“We can cook, shop, plan meals, or purely discuss what you need help with and work out how you are going to achieve it.”
A Paleo Unicorn Cake
Grace is already growing up fast and recently celebrated her 4th birthday. Just like most of the kids her age, she asked her mom for a unicorn birthday cake. However, this cake came with a healthy twist! On her Facebook page, Shannon shares the backstory behind her magical cake, “We wrangled the unicorn cake as requested without any artificial colors or flavors and kept it gluten and dairy-free.
“I used CocoLuscious vanilla ice cream and then colored the layers with blueberries, mango, turmeric, and raspberries. The unicorn topper fiasco was a headband she had that was broken. No doubt she’ll have a meltdown and my efforts to create a bloody unicorn cake will go unnoticed as we wallow in the demise of the headband. Good times!”
All’s Well That Ends Well
As Grace is growing up, the Paleo diet seems to be working wonders for her, and she’s developing into a happy and healthy little girl. She is also growing up to be quite a sassy little character too.
For her birthday, Shannon posted a super cute photo slide show of Grace with the caption, “Happy 4th birthday, you little firecracker. You are smart, sassy, kind, fierce and funny as hell.”