diet lessons from a dog

As I’ve addressed previously, I think we have a lot to learn from our four legged friends: dogs. My dog Madison is about to turn 8, that’s 45 in human years. She also just dropped 20 pounds. That’s 20 pounds in dog weight!

The Fitness

At the peak of Madison’s fitness, she clocked 4-minute miles, and concurred distance runs with my wife. After being pulled on a 13-miler and struggling through a couple others, Madison decided her running days were over. As soon as the running attire came out, she headed for the dog bed. Seriously.

The Diet

While frequently running and young, Madison enjoyed a self-regulated diet. We filled her bowl, and when it went down, we filled it again. She consistently maintained a weight between 60-65 lbs with this regimen. When she stopped running, this changed.  The next vet visit highlighted this change: 80 lbs.

Your dog needs to go on a diet. - the VET

The Change 

Madison went on a diet. We rationed 1 cup of dog food a day: 1/2 a cup in the morning and 1/2 a cup in the evening.  That’s it. We didn’t change her lifestyle, we didn’t change her food, we just changed her portion size. Today, Madison weighed 60 pounds.

Wow, keep doing whatever you are doing. When dogs put on weight they don’t usually lose it. - the VET

The Lesson

Portion size matters. Calories in minus calories out.  The equation is so simple, even a dog can do it.  Thanks Madison and congratulations; I’m really proud of you.

The Tips 

Rather than just recognize this lesson, I also wanted to add some tips to help with portion control.

  1. Drink a glass of water (or two) before eating. This will help fill the space you’re used to filling with food.
  2. Only eat 1/4 to 1/2 of a restaurant entree. Decide exactly which portion you’re going to eat before you begin.
  3. Buy smaller plates. Don’t refill these plates with seconds or heap food on the plate, this defeats the purpose.
  4. Eat with chopsticks. This will make you eat slower and the limited portion size will last longer.
  5. Talk while eating. This will also make you eat slower and the limited portion size will last longer.