Rescuing Rambo

Rene Lynch is a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times,  covering both food and national news. She also writes at her blog, I Love Leftovers, and you can always find her on Twitter.


I’m doing October Unprocessed with my dog.

A few weeks ago, I adopted a German shepherd rescue who had been badly abused, and was suffering from a number of chronic health problems. (Since this is a food blog, I will spare you details.) The first thing the vet did was order up a new diet. I was under strict instruction to feed the struggling pup a premium non-allergenic dog food requiring a prescription, and some healthy extras like scoops of ripe avocado and canned pumpkin. But nothing else – no treats. The vet wanted to keep a tight rein on his diet in an effort to pinpoint his problems.

Fast forward to my return trip to the vet. After just 22 days, the dog’s health problems had improved 100%. Truly, night and day. Even the vet was impressed, and chalked it up to the healing properties of food.

And I was left facing an uncomfortable fact: I feed my dog better than I feed myself.

Allow me to explain. When I joined Unprocessed October last year, it helped me make lasting changes to the foods I buy and serve on a plate in my home. (I think my husband has forgotten what white bread tastes like, and diet soda is now a rare treat instead of the routine dinnertime beverage.) However, I didn’t allow October Unprocessed to permanently curb my personal – and largely secret — snacking habits. Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos…if the name ended in an “O” I’d eat it, preferably when no one was around.

As I sat in the vet’s office that morning, I realized that I would never in a million years put a bowl of Cheetos on the floor and let my dog eat that for dinner. Yet there had been plenty of occasions, I’m red-faced to admit, where I made a meal out of a bag of orange food.

In a show of solidarity with my new canine companion, I decided that if he had to go without “treats,” so would I. And that resolve has led me to honor this Unprocessed October by shunning all that junk food, once and for all, no matter what month it is.

Eventually, the vet says, we will be able to add treats into Rambo’s diet. And I’m looking forward to finding healthy ones that he’ll enjoy (like this turkey, rice, and veggie stew).

I’m also going to do the same for myself.

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