It’s No Surprise: Choices Depend on What’s Available!

Stella wonders, "Tomato or pretzel? Hmmm?"


We are out of dog treats.  Oh, no!

I saw this as an opportunity to do an experiment using our dog Stella, connoisseur of fine cuisine.  After posting a few days ago about the sorry state of fruit and vegetable consumption in this country, I wondered what would happen if I offered Stella two choices:  a tomato and a pretzel.  The result did not surprise me (see above photo).  Does it surprise you that she ate (actually inhaled) the pretzel quickly and walked away from the tomato?

I know that she eats tomatoes when that is all she is offered.  In fact, after this picture was taken, I left the tomato on the floor, and after a minute or two – when she could see that no more pretzels were being offered! – she sniffed the tomato for several seconds and finally ate it.

Dogs make food choices almost completely based on taste.  Their little brains do not allow them to sort through nutrition studies and incorporate health considerations into their decisions.  They cannot grasp the complexity of a choice that might give a benefit later on.  If it tastes good and is available now, they eat it – plain and simple.

Life is more complicated all around for human beings.  We worry more (the down side), and it would be easy to make the point that many of us do not enjoy life as much as dogs do.  Because we actually understand that we will die one day, most of us make at least some effort to consider our health when we make food choices.

Knowing that our choices will probably be affected by the options available, it is no wonder that there is a surging epidemic of obesity in this country.  What is easily available to our population of over-stressed, over-busy people?  Look around.  There are lots of options for quick, cheap, tasty (maybe even overstimulating) food everywhere.  We have little control over the food environment outside of our own homes.

Admittedly, it takes a little effort to stock a healthy kitchen, and even a little more effort to prepare healthy food, but if it isn’t even there, you will definitely have a hard time choosing it – duh, right?  If the choices you make available at home are reasonably healthy, for the most part anyway, it just makes sense that your choices will have to be healthier than if you had a pantry full of junk.

Even my dogs know that when there is a party, with lots of special treats and more things on the floor to “clean up”, they will not have to opt for a carrot.  But if that’s all I offer them, it takes on a whole new allure.  If you have kids in the house, you can set them up to make better choices by keeping the choices mostly healthy.

What’s in YOUR kitchen?

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