Anyone who knows me knows I love my little Bordier Collie, Cleo. At just 6 weeks old, I chose her as the scruffy, little runt of the litter.
We fed our puppy the best formulated petfood. As she grew out of the puppy years she started to gain a little weight so we put her on a weight-control pet food formulation. A few more years passed, she was an adult dog still full of energy but we noticed our Cleo was drinking a lot of water. Not to worry, we thought - we do live on the Sunshine Coast which has a very warm climate.
Then we noticed our Cleo was constantly urinating - to the point of incontinence. After a quick examination our vet prescribed a ‘medication’ for incontinence. We never stopped to think of the underlying cause.
By the age of 7 the health of our little dog had deteriorated so badly, one night she was just laying on the floor, panting so heavily, tongue limp on the ground, something inside me said we needed to get her to the vet now or she won’t last the night.
Our little dog had developed full blown type-1 diabetes.
We watched her rapidly go blind, first in one eye, then the other. I never forget the day she completely lost her sight, we spend all night preventing our terrified little blind dog from walking into walls, doors and furniture.
Then, we had to learn to inject our dog with insulin, twice a day, every single day. Too much or too little insulin Cleo would experience a full-blown seizure. In one attempt to stop her biting her own tongue off Cleo bit right through Paul's hand. We spent thousands of dollars over the next couple of years trying to manage our dogs diabetes. The visits to clinics, the tests and the Specialists – yes there are veterinarians that specialize in treating diabetic dogs. We even found a vet surgeon that specialized in restoring diabetic dogs eye sight.
I never forget when I took Cleo to the surgeon. After the examination he said, “I can restore the sight in one eye, but it will cost over three and a half thousand dollars.”
“How much for both eyes?” I asked?
The surgeon looked at me blankly and said, “nobody has ever asked me that?!”
Again, looking to give Cleo the best we could we were prescribed a formulated diabetic dog food to feed her. Outrageously expensive? Of course. Even with this we still couldn’t get her blood sugar levels under control.
The seizures were horrifying and getting more violent. After more than a dozen seizures and the corresponding vet hospitalization bills, we were beyond desperate. With no sign of a solution, given the escalating costs and our dogs suffering we even considered putting her down. A thought that still brings tears to my eyes typing this.
I can’t remember exactly how or why, but simply out of sheer desperation I started feeding my food to Cleo.
I just started cooking for her. Just wholesome real food, lean chicken and vegetables. We saw a difference in her within days.
We got the most consistent blood sugar recordings we’d never had.
The seizures reduced and then stopped. When one did happen it was rare and nowhere near as severe.
Today Cleo is now 12 years old, she’s been a type-1 diabetic for more than 5 years, and she is picture of health. In fact, there isn’t a day walking on the beach that someone doesn’t stop and say “your puppy is so cute, how old is she?” No one can believe Cleo is a 12 year old dog.
All diabetic symptoms; the excessive urinating, incontinence, and the seizures have long gone. Apart from a once a year check up, there are no more expensive visits to the vet. We’ve even gradually expanded Cleo’s foods where she now even has fats and carbs. She is lean, healthy and energetic.
This is why I’m so passionate about Cooking. The impact it has on health cannot be underestimated.
Interestingly, across developed countries like Australia, the amount of time spent preparing meals in households has fallen by more than half since the 1960’s. Today, many households spend no more than 20 minutes in the kitchen, a week! The home delivery industry has boomed and takeaway food is now a frequent habit for many busy people.
Historically, the precise moment when Australians began to abandon the kitchen and hand over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, our general health and wellbeing has plummeted.
I hope my story about little Cleo inspires you. It’s why I love sharing new recipes, creating healthy, delicious versions of favourite meals and treats. I want to empower people, everywhere. To show them how easy and delicious healthy eating can be.
Cleo’s diabetic menu
(I purchase whatever is the least expensive on any given week.)
• Lean chicken meat
• Vegetables – I just buy a mix of carrots, cauliflower, celery, peas and broccoli - mostly stalks.
• I also add pumpkin and small potatoes (the ones with 25% less carbs)
• An Omega-3 oil – we use fish, flax and hemp oil.
One Cook-up in a 5 L Slow Cooker provides 10 meals
• 6 Large chicken breasts
• 2 kgs vegetable mix
• 500g pumpkin (skin off)
• 7 small potatoes
• 2 cups of celery – the mostly leaves.
• add one cup of water to the cooker also.
Each meal provides approx.
• 150g of meat and
• 2 cups of cooked vegetables listed above
• we always add 1 tablespoon of an omega-3 source just before consumption