Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Feast or Famine?
Meet Callie, my canine love.
You could learn a lot from a dog about eating and appetite.
Well, not my dog. As many of you dog lovers know, you have a choice when it comes to feeding your pooch—you can go with regular meals or allow the dog to free feed, meaning she has constant access to food.
Callie’s on a meal plan—she eats two meals a day. She’s a healthy weight, but outside of mealtime, you’d think she was slowly starving to death. Luckily for her, the sidewalks of Manhattan provide ample opportunity for her to indulge her cravings. Despite my best efforts at leash control, Callie has dined on pizza, soft pretzels, French bread, and, on occasion, a whole chicken discarded outside a restaurant. She’ll even, outside the local bars, mop up vomit from the night before. I know, I must be so proud. . . .
If Callie were to free feed (and, at this point it may be too late, and I’m not really trying to cure her of an eating disorder), her food dish would remain full, and she’d graze throughout the day—a bite here, a nibble there, maybe even a full meal in the morning or after some rigorous play. Because the food would always be available, she wouldn’t feel the need to so desperately scavenge the sidewalk gutters. She’d follow her appetite, instead of relying on the external cues of mealtimes. She’d likely be less anxious and obsessive around food.
As a human, you may restrict your intake to designated mealtimes, and to certain foods at that (the hallmark of the diet). As a result, cravings develop and bingeing becomes your way of guaranteeing satisfaction within the realm of these restrictions. If you’re to remove the restrictions and free feed, the likelihood is (after some adjustment time), you’ll learn to follow your appetite, eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. . . because you’ll know that the food will always be there, and you won’t have to scramble on the sidewalk to retrieve it.