Hannah Discusses Diet and Health

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February 7, 2013 by lizforanimals

I want to talk about diet and health and the important role that food has played in my life. I know that our guardians do their very best to find a food that will meet all of our nutritional needs, but this can be a daunting task especially if there are allergies or medical issues that also need to be addressed. This is what happened to me when I got sick and Mum spent a lot of time researching food options, finally deciding that it was easier to make my food than buy it. Let me tell you my story…….

I know that I look like a very happy, healthy dog, but looks can be deceiving. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very happy girl, but for those of you who know me, you know that I have been sick for many years. For those of you just getting to know me, I should probably explain a little bit about my illness.

It all started when I was around two years old and I barfed up a big puddle of blood, which scared the poop out of both Mum and me! Mum rushed me to an emergency clinic, where I had to spend the night and they carried out all sorts of nasty tests on me. This was the first time Mum and I had ever been apart. We were very frightened! The doctors said that I had eaten something that I shouldn’t have and that would be the end of it, but it wasn’t.
I continued to vomit up huge puddles of bloody bile, along with undigested food. I saw my regular doctor, who also did a whole lot of tests, but nobody seemed to know what was wrong with me and let me tell you, I was getting pretty tired of being poked and prodded all the time! A girl has her limits!
Mum did a ton of research and found a wonderful doctor, who practices holistic medicine as well as conventional medicine. I really like Dr. Dunlap! She’s super gentle and she genuinely likes me (but then again, who doesn’t?). She also did a whole whack of tests, including an ultrasound, where they had to shave all my beautiful hair off of my tummy! It was the middle of winter, I was naked and there was snow! I’ve never been so cold or humiliated in my whole life!!! Mum bought me a sweater to wear in the house and a really cute jacket for outside, so that certainly helped with the cold and I was definitely very stylish until my beautiful hair had the chance to grow back in.

black Lhasa apso in green sweater
The test results came back and there was something wrong with my pancreas. Apparently, my pancreas is not able to process or digest food properly, producing too much bacteria, so this meant that I would have to be on medication, a special diet and have enzymes added to my food. Do you realize what this meant?! NO MORE TREATS! Well this was devastating news! How would you feel if you were told you could no longer have chocolate, potato chips, Starbucks or Tim Hortons? I think you get the picture! Needless to say, I was not impressed, but I figured if it meant I would get better, thenblack Lhasa apso in pink coat I would do my best to try and cooperate.
Mum had to try a variety of things, including many commercially made products, but none of these were the answer (apparently I’m a picky little girl!) She then decided to make the food herself (which was a huge undertaking because Mum doesn’t like to cook) and she finally found the right combination that seemed to work, and honestly, it was really quite yummy! The ingredients for this diet were as follows:

Free range ground chicken (If I have to eat meat, I want to be as humane as possible!)
Organic brown rice (Brown rice is more nutritional than white rice.)
Carrots (Carrots are like the super veggie of all time and if you have to eat veggies, you definitely should be eating carrots! They are chalk full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, dietary fiber, are rich in beta-carotene and they help you see better! Alright, I’m not actually sure about the last one and  I don’t really like carrots very much, but they sure are good for you!!!)
Green Peas (Contain lots of vitamins and minerals!)
Ripe Bananas (These are good for the heart, the bowel, your bones and for stress management! They have lots of potassium and potassium lowers stress levels, so if your stressed, eat a banana!)
Parsley (Not too much or it will be bitter, finely chopped. Parsley helps with digestion)
Ginger , salt ( Just a little added to the rice for flavour. Ginger is a stomach aid as well) (Ginger can be bitter, so only use a little)

Mum cooked the rice, carrots and peas, then put the carrots, peas and bananas into the food processor and mashed them until they were more manageable for me (that means more mushy, so easier to digest) She then added this mixture, with the parsley, to the raw ground chicken and cooked rice, mixed it all up in a big container and then put it into pans, covered it with tin foil and baked it in the oven just like a meat loaf!  She baked it for about an hour at 375 degrees, then took the tin foil off and continued baking for about another 30 minutes, 10 minutes of that time was on broil so the loaf could brown a little on top.

The house used to smell absolutely heavenly and it was near to impossible for me to stay out of the kitchen! I was always very careful not to get in the way, as I certainly wouldn’t want to trip the cook! (Purely selfish reasons for sure!)

This diet worked for a few years, but it wasn’t perfect, because I still had vomiting episodes on a fairly regular basis. My illness was definitely better controlled with this diet and the medications that the Dr. Dunlap had me on, but there was absolutely room for improvement!

In December of 2012, I was barfing more than normal and I was feeling really unwell. My beautiful hair was dull and full of mats and I just didn’t feel like my joyful self. Mum took me to see the doctor and she did some tests to check what was going on. Dr. Dunlap believed that, as well as my pancreas problems, I was also suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She suggested that we completely change my diet once again! She thought what we needed was to change the main protein source from chicken to something more easy to digest, high in protein and low in fat. The doctor suggested tofu and lentils. Yep, you read that correctly, tofu and lentils. Hey, I wasn’t very excited about it either! I mean, come on….I realize I’m an omnivore, but this was taking things just a little too far! As with most things, my opinion didn’t seem to matter much and before I knew it, I was eating tofu and I was liking it and even more importantly, it was liking me! My meals taste great and they don’t upset my tummy at all! It’s been more than 30 days now and so far there hasn’t been any vomiting and my hair is shiny and mat free! Whoopee!!!!!! Who would have thought that tofu and lentils could be so good for you?! I still get a little bit of chicken in my diet, but only in small amounts and of course Mum supplements my food with vitamins, to make sure I’m getting everything I need. Below is the diet that I am currently following:

Morning: 2 teaspoons of low fat cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon of unsweetened apple sauce, a small teaspoon of pumpkin and a small handful of chicken all mixed together. (just use the canned unsweetened pumpkin because there’s nothing else added to it)

cottage cheese – good source of calcium, protein and vitamin B12
applesauce – good source of fiber and vitamin C
pumpkin – good source of vitamins A and E

My Main Meal: 2 teaspoons of garbanzo beans, 1 teaspoon of red lentils, 2-3 teaspoons of green peas, 3 teaspoons of tofu and a few simulated soy bacon bits for flavour. (Mum marinates the tofu in olive oil, turmeric, a sprinkle of garlic and Bragg All Purpose Seasoning Liquid Soy and then she fries it) (We tried other ways, but I like it best fried)

tofu – low fat, low cholesterol, good source of protein and calcium
garbanzo beans – good source of protein, fiber, manganese, folate and iron
red lentils – good source of fiber, magnesium, folate and iron
green peas – good source of folic acid (B-complex vitamins), anti-oxidants, vitamins C, K and A
turmeric – iron, has all sorts of wonderful health benefits

Evening Snack: A small handful of chicken (always free range)

I haven’t felt this good in a long time and my hair looks and feels exquisite! I feel more like my old young self than I have in years and all it took was a change in diet. Amazing! I’m hoping, one day, that I will be able to eliminate chicken from my diet completely, then I’d be a vegetarian just like my mum! Mum says that she’d rather make my food because then she controls exactly what goes in to it. She doesn’t have to worry about food recalls or any of the other scary things she hears on the newscast and I think it tastes better too!black Lhasa apso garden statue

I wanted to share my story so that my canine brethren might benefit from it. I know there are others who suffer from allergies, tummy problems and other afflictions, who just may find that their condition improves with a change of diet. Of course, their guardian should always discuss any changes with their veterinarian first, but it’s definitely worth looking into. See what a difference it has made in my life! I look forward to hearing any stories from those who change their diet and find improvement in their health! Good luck and good health!

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