You are probably wondering what this has to do with your dog. Well, chances are, he may need to go on a diet too; and anyone who has ever tried to kick a habit can tell you that the best way to do it is to have an accountability buddy.An accountability buddy is someone who helps you stay on track with your new goals by keeping you responsible for them. Your four-legged best friend can be that very buddy you need. Though you may be able to cheat yourself or lie to your friends, you should not be willing to cheat the one creature on this Earth who never speaks ill of you, never judges you, and gives you unconditional love every day of his life. If you don’t owe it to yourself to make a change, then you owe it to your four-legged best friend.
How do you make a dog your accountability buddy? Any nutritionist will tell you, it’s not just about how much you eat but also what you eat that will make the difference. Smaller portions may be important in your diet but most people are just making poor food choices. And this is true for people of all sizes. Just because someone is skinny does not mean they are healthy. And just because someone is stocky does not mean they are unhealthy. Everyone is built differently and it isn’t our job to judge ourselves or others by what we see. It’s our job to make sure the things we put into our bodies are things that will make us feel good, look good, and give us energy to get through our day without large amounts of caffeine.This is where your dog comes into play. Rely on your dog to help you make smart food choices. Every time you go to eat something ask yourself, “Could my dog eat this?” While this may be extreme in some cases, the basic principle is a good place to start. For example, processed sugar is not good for dogs, but they love things with natural sugars, like sweet potato. Use your dog’s dietary restrictions as your own to help you start making better food choices. This Holiday season is a great time to start with baby steps. Using the “Could my dog eat this?” rule, snacking with your dog is an easy way to create better eating habits without going cold turkey. Instead of bringing home cookies and bon bons, here is a list of snacks you can enjoy with your dog:
Cottage Cheese - Non-fat, low sodium only.
Sweet Potato - Great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber.
Baby Carrots - Contains beta-carotene which helps dogs maintain a healthy coat.
Apples - Great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. NEVER feed your dog the apple seeds, core, leaf, or stem; they are highly toxic!
Green Beans - Good source of vitamin K, manganese, and vitamin C. Good for dogs on a diet since they are low in calories.
Boiled Eggs – Great source of protein, selenium, and riboflavin. Do not feed your dog raw eggs; it is very unhealthy! For dogs on a diet, feed only the egg whites, since all the fat is in the yolk.
Yogurt - Good source of calcium and good for the digestive system, if your dog is tolerant of yogurt. Plain yogurt is best (stay away from artificial flavors, high sugars, and high fat content).
Rice Cakes - Natural or plain, not artificially flavored.
Banana Chips – Great for training treats as well.
Pumpkin – pumpkin puree, canned natural pumpkin (not sweetened), and pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and iron. Pumpkin can also help with indigestion, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, and even weight loss, among other things.
Seaweed – High in mineral content; enhances coat and pigment color, builds energy, enhances immune system, easy to digest, gives thyroid support, and potentially reduces the risk of cancer. (Check out your local international food store for Asian packaged seaweed chip-like snacks. Do not give your dog Wasabi flavored seaweed snacks!).
As a reminder, all of these snacks should be given in moderation. Too much of anything is never a good thing. If you stick to this, you will begin to form healthier eating habits for you and your dog and you won’t have to buy expensive dog treats to keep your dog happy either. Good luck and good eats!