When You Know Better, Do Better

This post was actually inspired by a certain attitude I see floating around a lot: one of planned ignorance.  A lot of people don’t want to know because they don’t want to do things differently.  They prefer to stick with whatever they’re doing, whether it’s working for them or not.  Some don’t even know how to evaluate whether or not “it’s working” in regards to various choices!

Let me tell you a story.

It was 2006, the year Ben and I got married.  We both had all kinds of minor health problems.  We were overweight, we frequently felt sick and tired.  He constantly had stomachaches and was sick most days.  And…we joked about it.  It never occurred to us that there was anything we could do about it; it just was the way it was.

A typical dinner in those days was Hamburger Helper with a side of Jiffy muffins.  Maybe we’d follow that up with some Jell-o…regular, or, at times, sugar-free (i.e. loaded with aspartame).  We bought ice cream a lot.  Frozen pizza was common.  “Cooking” from scratch was using frozen veggies, canned broth, and white pasta.  We didn’t drink milk, but if we did, it was skim milk from the store: pasteurized and homogenized.  We did not know there was another way.

In fact…we actually talked about how our future children had “no chance” to avoid the problems we had!  We just assumed that we had been dealt an unlucky hand and that our children would probably have the same issues.  It seemed relative to us: we were functional, after all.  We just didn’t feel the greatest.  We didn’t even know it was possible to be different.

Our attempts at getting healthy were short-lived and always failed.  We exercised; but plans were abandoned within weeks.  We tried to “eat healthy” (by SAD standards) but kept gaining weight.  We gave up.  I mean…we weren’t really that bad!  Maybe it was just normal.

Once our daughter was born this changed.

In some ways, she saved us.  When I saw some of these issues appearing in her, I did not think it was “just the way it was.”  I did not like it at all.  I did not want her to suffer the way we had.  It did not seem right that someone who was born so perfect should have to go through this.  It led us to discover food allergies…and ultimately, gut damage. 

We began to work on our diet.  We discovered WAP.  Then we learned about GAPS.  We began to eliminate the rest of the processed foods from our diet, and cook from scratch for real.  We ate lots more fat — initally coconut oil, then later butter and lard and beef tallow too.

I don’t really need to tell you how the story ends, do I?

My son didn’t suffer the same problems my daughter did at all.  He never had the chronic diaper rash or eczema.  He never had constant diarrhea.  He never woke at night, screaming for hours.  He wasn’t speech delayed.  He doesn’t have food allergies.  He doesn’t have gut damage.  He didn’t start solids until after I’d done GAPS, and he started with eggs and meat.

I no longer believe that any of us are “just destined to feel sick.”  I don’t think my children are destined to follow in our footsteps.  I know they can be born healthy, and I know they can completely skip the issues that plagued us.  All because we have made changes to our family’s health.

I could feel guilty, for what I “did” to my daughter.  Having her before I knew any better.  But why?  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  All I can do is make changes for the future.

We’ve told our parents, too, about the changes we’ve made and the benefits we’ve seen.  It’s not a guilt-trip for them: “If only you’d known, I wouldn’t be this way!”  No.  They didn’t know, and that is not their fault.  If they had known, I’m sure they would have done differently.  And to some extent, they are doing differently now.  Either for themselves, or embracing that we are doing what we believe to best.  They understand that our different choices in no way reflect on how they parented us.  We simply have different information, and so we are doing things differently.

People today often fall into one of these categories:

  1. They don’t believe there is anything “really” wrong, or that there is anything they can do (just like we used to)
  2. They don’t want to know if there is anything wrong, because they’re afraid of what they might learn
  3. They don’t want to do differently, because somehow that is disrespectful to their past: the children who might have suffered less, or the parents who raised them

I understand it.  But I don’t agree with any of it.

Please: learn all you can, and do better when you can!  God calls us to always do better, to not keep making the same mistakes again!

Every time I hear a parent say, “Oh, my new baby has reflux and eczema, just like my first baby!” I cringe internally.  I suffered through that with my babies, too.  I know in the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t have to be that way.  It makes me so very sad!  I know they are doing what they believe to be best — typically, treating the symptoms — but I hurt for them.  I’ve been there.  I know it can be better.

I feel like we’ve been completely saved from a terrible fate, because we wondered why things were the way they were, and we started looking for another way.  A better way.  We don’t feel guilty because of what used to be true.  I do feel amazingly lucky when I realize what could have happened, if we hadn’t learned any better.  I do believe at least my daughter would technically be on the autism spectrum, especially if she’d been vaccinated.  Perhaps my son would have too, if we hadn’t learned better before he was born.  I can’t ever know that.  But I’m so very glad I never will.

Do not feel guilty for what you don’t know, or what you didn’t know.  Just take the information you learn and do what you can with what you have.  Ask questions, be open to new ideas and new ways.  Do not worry about the past.  Today is a new day…a day the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad, whatever your circumstances!

Do you feel guilty ever for what you didn’t know?

Comments

  1. says

    The old saying, "What you don't know won't hurt you," is obviously not true when our health is at stake. You are right; we shouldn't feel guilty for we didn't know or for factors beyond our control. It takes a lot of courage to look at the truth sometimes, especially when it means that we are going to need to make changes. But experiencing good health is worth it!

  2. Heather says

    I do feel guilty about the way we used to eat and how it affected our family, although at the time I did what I knew and thought was best. I have three kids that have all run the gamut of asthma, allergies, reflux and eczema. Only after discovering some food allergies and yeast issues, and since I'm writing on this blog – obviously diet changes for the better, have those issues drastically improved. We are still learning as we go, and as I work full time out of the home I get a little more time challenged than I'd like, but we do our best….which I am pretty happy with right now. And in a year, things will hopefully look even better than they do now. Keep on going, and try not to feel guilty about what I can't turn back the clock and change.

  3. says

    I have often thought the same things but you have worded and encapsulated it so very well. There were a lot of things I really had no clue about before my daughter was born, but like you experienced, realizing things "ought not to be this way" is what really set me down the path of natural health & healing. I used to not want to know either because I didn't want to have to change — it felt like too much work. But now that "I know," I don't really want to do it any other way!
    Thanks for encouraging me on this!

  4. says

    This is my favorite post ever on your blog! I'm sharing this post with everyone I can. I have so many friends and family who fall into the category of 'not knowing any better' in the area of health. It grieves me so much, but I don't have a radical 'before and after' story to tell as you do, so they just look at me as having been dealt a 'lucky' hand. I pray your story will reach some. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Rebecca says

    This is so true! And also highlights how we should strive to do a little better in all aspects of our lives.

  6. says

    I have been really regretting lately, so was thankful to read your post. I soooo wish I knew about GAPS before getting pregnant. I also have had a hard time accepting lately, and I know that I need to let go. For example– I have not eaten the 'standard American Diet" for about 13 years and haven't been on antibiotics but once in the last 11 years. My health is pretty good except for the chronic allergies– which I've had all my life. So when my first baby had reflux I didn't even realize that it could have been due to my own gut imbalance which was passed down to me from my own parents and from years on antibiotics as a child with allergies…and no breastmilk. I went gluten, dairy and processed foods free before conceiving my second child but didn't know about GAPS. It's hard for me to accept that I have another baby with intolerances and colic! I feel so grateful for him and know that he will be okay, but it is so incredibly hard and I find it difficult to accept sometimes……thinking 'why do all of these other people eating all of the horrible foods have easy babies????" I will let it go. I just have to remind myself to be grateful and that I'll feel better when I sleep.
    I do have a question:
    You mentioned that you waited to start solids until after GAPS. I've been wondering if I should start my son with solids on the GAPS protocol soon– if that would help him to heal faster, or if it would be better to have him wait until he's older (he's 5 1/2 months now). I'm on GAPS, will that work to heal his intestines through my breastmilk?
    thanks!

  7. ModernAMama says

    Hi Colleen,

    First, I don't think a lot of people who eat SAD have easy babies at all. :) They just think that colic and reflux and such are "normal" because so many babies have them, and they just take them to the doctor and get them drugs. They do think there is nothing they can do! But when half the other babies they know have the same issues, it just seems normal to them and they don't make a big deal of it. It's good, though, that you have — so that you can heal all of you!

    I would wait awhile, because it WILL heal your son's gut through you. My son did not do well on the GAPS solids protocol at all. I offered him well-cooked veggies in stock at 6 months or so once or twice and he had horrible diaper rash and the food was basically undigested. Only a couple months later, starting with meat, did he do well. The GAPS protocol starts with the veggies but I don't think that's most appropriate for babies. Stock, meat, and even plain yogurt or kefir are good early foods, as well as eggs (or just the yolks; we don't have any egg allergies). The starchy veggies especially seem to cause problems for some babies, and in fact my son (now almost 2) still does better off most grains.

  8. Lindie says

    OHMYGOSH!!! I just read this and feel like I could have written it…word for word. Everything you say in here is true for my family too. I mean, seriously!
    Thank you for writing this!

  9. Tasha says

    I have been so upset all day because of this very issue! I too, ate the typical american diet, followed all the doctors advice, and vaccinated my son…now I spend every waking moment paying for it. Instead of a happy, healthy little boy I have a son with autism who is intolerant to just about every food there is. My new baby is probably better off now that we changed our lives, but I just cannot help to feel sad, and angry with myself for the damage I caused my boy.

  10. says

    Although j feel regret in not knowing how to do things differently, I don’t feel regret that bogs me down, instead when I know a better way, I purpose in my heart to make that knowledge work for me. And I do! Which is why tomorrow I am going to debunk my cupboards of crap foods! I had never thought it even a possibility of my children having food allergies until I read your fb post about the lollipop! It makes so much sense to me. My 4 yr old daughter gets like that sometimes. Irrational and mean. To punish her feels wrong. Like I would be stressing her out further. But my desperation has been growing. And now I will listen.

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