Have you ever watched a dog eat? When you put the food down does your dog just self-regulate and graze all day long or gobble it down quickly?
Ever since I can remember I have had dogs in my life and most of the dogs I grew up with often gobbled their food down. One meal a day, that was the recommended feeding especially for a dog that lived in a house with 5 kids, and couple of cats. (dogs love cat food and unfinished kids sandwiches by the way).
Then Lucy came along and at first we would put the food down, she would nibble and leave some food in the bowl. And there were some days that she didn’t really eat at all. Every dog that I have had until Lucy, gobbled their food down, in one sitting.
So we asked the vet, is this normal?
Low and behold some dogs do this, they eat when they are hungry and leave some if they are full. WHAT?!! And it is okay if they don’t eat one day, if they are young, it is not a sign of sickness.
HUH, wow that was news to me… I always thought dogs were crazy hungry all the time and they couldn’t be stopped; that is why we as humans must limit their intact.
Then I thought about the family dynamic of the dogs I have had over the years. In most instances my dogs have had competition, either from cats or another dog.
Lucy was the first that didn’t have another dog to compete for her food, or require us to pick up the food (so the other dog wouldn’t eat her share as well)
Then 4 months ago we got another dog, Cassie, and guess what Lucy’s eating habits changed significantly.
Lucy felt the need to share Cassie’s food with her and Lucy started gobbling up all her food in her bowl as well.
It was starting to show in Lucy’s waste line, gaining a few lbs.
As much as I hated to say it, we were contributing to her weight gain by allowing her to eat too much. So we had to set up eating times, measure out Lucy’s food and make sure they didn’t eat from each other’s bowls.
This got me thinking a lot about my own eating habits especially in my family dynamic and social situations.
I know as a kid growing up in a large family, I ate more like Lucy after she got her sister. Always sharing, competing and eating more than my share.
Although I was an active kid, I just wanted to make sure my siblings didn’t get the last piece of bread, or the cheese and crackers or the last banana.
I would drink at least 4 glasses of milk and finish the day with 3 to 4 gIasses of orange juice. My eating was from a place of scarcity; it has taken me years to finally get it, that I had plenty of food available to me at all times. I wasn’t going to starve or miss out on those foods (FOMO)
And it added up over the years, of course I became pudgy, on the verge of being fat. And when I was teased and ridiculed for being a little bigger, I decided I needed to stop competing, sharing and gobbling up my food.
It took a lot of years to create a safe zone for me at home, and start to self-regulate my eating.
As much as I wanted to believe I had “total control” it clearly only existed in my “safe” zone at home.
When it came to social situations, it was like a switch and I would either stand by the pretzel bowl and dip (eating until it was almost gone) or have a clear path drawn on the floor from the couch to the snack table.
And don’t get me started on when the cake was cut, first to grab a piece. Always thinking “I don’t want to miss out if they run out.”
It totally didn’t mean anything that I could barely breath from all the food, I had to have my cake. Cause in my mind, I believed I will never have this food ever again. (FOMO)
And unlike Lucy, I had to learn how to step away from the food, not expect someone else to take it away from me.
As much as I felt like I could avoid socializing and hanging with the family; that was unrealistic and isolating.
Hence I created my own self-regulating strategies outside my “safe zone” at home. This has helped me overcome my need to overeat or come from a place of scarcity (some may call it FOMO) in social situations (especially with family)
- I eat normal meals before I go
- I make sure that I am not overly hungry, or tired before I go. I found when I don’t have the energy, I have no ability or mental capacity to walk away from a room full of pastries, or a table full of crunchy, salty snacks
- Start with water
- I do my best to try and go for water first, before any alcoholic beverages start. And in between each drink have another glass of water.
- I know alcohol can turn off my ability to know I am full and can lead me to eat even after I am full
- Come from a place of love and walk away from any drama
- This is where it can get hairy, as much as I want to believe spending time with family and friends is awesome. There have been times when I may find myself stuffing my face with a brownie because a family member or friend may want to cause a little drama. And as much as I believe eating a brownie is better than causing a fight, I also believe stepping out of the room or leaving is another solution as well.
- Help out
- Rather than sitting on my butt on the couch watching the “game”, I choose to help out in the kitchen, or with the kids or cleaning up the dishes. This keeps me occupied and out of harm’s way (not near the snack table or near any drama that may occur).
- When it is a social situation I still ask the host or hostess if they need help, and sometimes they do need a little assistance to get stuff done.
- Leave when I am ready
- Rather than hanging out all night or staying too exhaustion, I make it a point to leave when I am ready. Hanging out too long can sometimes lead to mindless munching that I am known to do when I am tired or filling time.
As much as I wanted to believe I was never going to leave my house in order to stay focused on living my healthy lifestyle. I know connecting with family and friends is also a healthy way to live and love and engage in this world.
Ironically, now that Lucy is finally used to having her sister and knows that she is going to be fed. She is back to self-regulating her eating and starting to slim down just a little bit.
Still can’t leave the bowl down, because Cassie needs to learn some restraint.
So if you can relate to Lucy and me, when it comes to eating, either with your family or in a social environment, try some of my strategies.