That title may feel a little bit rude to you but rest assured that I love my dogs more I love than a lot of things (and people). Case in point: I’m taking them next week to go get professional doggy portraits done and could not be more excited about it. Mackenzie is going to wear a flower crown because she is a queen. Also, this blog post does have information on how to eat, but it is also an excuse for me to show you a bunch of pictures of my dogs. Buckle up.
My dogs are free fed, which means that we keep food in their bowls at all times. If his bowl has been empty for too long Oscar will pick it up and bring it to me like he’s a dog in a comic strip, it’s ADORABLE. Despite having food available constantly, they both almost always weigh about 85 pounds. Some days they eat a lot, some days they don’t eat at all, but because there’s always food available, and has been since they were puppies, they know they’ll never be hungry.
Mackenzie is my husband’s service dog, and he wanted to always have a piece of her, so four years ago we bred her so that we could keep one of the puppies. From the time the puppies could eat solid food they were free fed. Our friends own the only female puppy, Peyton, so we get to see her pretty frequently. Peyton, when she got to their house, transitioned from being free fed to being fed on a schedule, which was rough.
Because little miss P had lots of transitions happening at once, she didn’t know that her mom and dad would always feed her since she went from having food around 24/7 to having food in her bowl twice a day. She ate so quickly and ravenously that she’d frequently throw up. Over several months she slowly started to become accustomed to her feeding schedule and now no longer cries to be fed, but it took a long time.
When we humans restrict what we eat or when we eat, we’re guaranteed a binge in the future. Restriction always leads to overeating. Always. Every time. I want you to eat like Mackenzie and Oscar because they eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. Which I realize is easier said than done. If her parents were to start free feeding Peyton, it’d take a while for her to self-regulate, but her body does contain the ability to figure it out. Yours does too, but chances are you need help to get there, which is where I come in! Our clients get structure from us while they learn how to get back in touch with their bodies’ hunger/fullness cues to improve their relationships with food and with themselves.
-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT