How often do people admit they were wrong? Like you, for instance . . . when was the last time you admitted to being wrong about something? I'll give you a bit to try and remember. While you're thinking, I'll tell you a story about a time I was wrong.
Not too long ago I had completely different ideas about what constituted a healthy lifestyle. I had always been thin, so I had never tried any kind of diet at all. I knew that being thin did not always guarantee health, but I thought I was relatively safe from all the "major" stuff. I wasn't going to have a heart attack or get diabetes, so let me get on with enjoying life. I couldn't live in a bubble after all, especially 'cause that might mean I couldn't get pizza delivered. I did not make even a small connection between my food and how I felt (unless it was crazy obvious, like eating and immediately vomiting).
My freshman year of college I began a love affair with Snickers bars and Dr. Pepper. I ate a Snickers and drank a Dr. Pepper every day for an entire semester. I continued to be so deeply enamored of those two products that on our first weekend away together, my husband packed a whole bag full of them as a surprise for me. It didn't stop there though, now that I was out on my own I used my hard earned cash to stock my pantry with all the best foods . . . Coco Puffs and Hamburger Helper were a staple.
A few years later I had my daughter and life changed dramatically. I'd always loved fast food, but now I was pressed for time and cash. I ate at McDonald's (Big Macs), Taco Bell (Chicken Quesadilla) & Wendy's (Chicken Nuggets & Fries). I thought I wasn't getting fat, because I was so busy and so stressed. I thought I had a "crazy metabolism." To be fair, I managed to squeeze in alot of home cooking too. I made my best effort to eat healthy. The best quality meat was far outside my budget, so I concentrated on a vegetarian (read lots of beans) approach. I met my husband and we moved . . . and kept moving. Then there were regional fast food joints. We've lived all over, so I had those to get behind too. I ate at Carl's Jr. (Milkshakes), Taco John's (Potato Oles), & Royal Farms (Cheese Fries). I'm a very small lady, but I could put back an amazing amount of this food. I bragged about it all the time and legitimately thought to myself, "I'm not getting fat eating this stuff, so it must be okay."
I wasn't a "three stops a day" kind of fast food junkie though, so I still concentrated on cooking at home for our little family. I believed I was making highly nutritious meals too. We had big casseroles filled with whole grain pastas, "heart healthy" store bought sauces, skinless-boneless chicken breast, and cheese. On other nights I made my go-to meal, Tater Tot Casserole, glued together with "wholesome" Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. I regularly ate that casserole for breakfast, while congratulating myself on not eating at Dunkin' Donuts. I thought I was doing a good job cutting down on the red meat (only once or twice a week) and eliminating soda from our home. I made my daughter her school lunch on whole grain bread. What could be healthier for her than whole grain?
Then we moved to West Africa. I literally packed flats of Jiffy cornbread mix, powdered Gatorade (reading that label will give you the chills), Betty Crocker birthday cake mixes and "fun" snacks for my daughter, like Doritos. When our supplies ran out, I hit a wall. Adaptation to another culture is tough and diet is no small part of the equation. There was virtually no dairy, certainly not cheese or ice cream. It was possible to get familiar candy bars and snacks like Pringles at the grocery store, but the long ride in a shipping container, the heat and humidity . . . you could taste all of it. It made these products less than desirable. A quick stop at Taco Bell . . . completely out of the question . . . like "4,500 miles across an ocean" out of the question.
This whole time I was steadily getting sicker. My husband and I had gone through the heartbreak of infertility. I had growing suspicions, but I didn't make any dietary changes, excluding the ones that were forced on me by life in Africa. Changing the way I ate seemed like invalidating my whole life. So much of what defined me was in my favorite foods. Wasn't it? And what better way to deal with the stress of illness in a far away land with almost no health care then by getting my drink on? I had plenty of beer, wine and gin & tonics. I didn't develop a problem (by the grace of God) that required a 12-step approach, but my body certainly got even further away from healthy. Shocker. I know.
Then it happened. I got so sick, I had no other choice. I learned that I was sick with a disease caused by food. It had only one answer. No more gluten. Ever. That started a journey of discovery that lead all the way to Paleo and AIP. (Oddly, those forced dietary changes from my time in Africa helped me navigate this change.) I realized that everything I had done before was wrong. All of it. What I had been taught and how I had fed myself and my family was wrong. Really wrong. There was no room for mistaking what was right, because I felt it in my cells.
There is no shame in being wrong. No shame in turning your back on a former way or thought. If life is not about learning newer and better ways of thinking and being, what is it about? Personally, I've never been happier about being so wrong.
So how 'bout it? When was the last time you were wrong?