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Woman eats dog food for a month to teach people proper nutrition

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Is eating just one food for a month a good idea?

Eating pet food for a month sounds like the kind of thing someone would do only if they were starving or as a publicity stunt. Yet one Washington woman is doing just that, to bring awareness to the importance of proper nutrition for both humans and their furry friends.

Pet store owner Dorothy Hunter committed to eating 30 straight days of nothing but doggy chow and kitty kibble as a way of forcing people to think about the quality and source of the food they put in their own bodies and in their pets' bodies. "You would be surprised how tasty dog and cat food can be when it's made right," she told the Tri-City Herald. "You really are what you eat and it's the same for your pets."

Hunter chooses the pet food she stocks carefully, noting that she avoids anything with fillers, binders, animal byproducts or preservatives as well as anything made in China or made with ingredients sourced from China, as the country is well-known for its lax food production oversight. She says you won't find any empty calories in her store.

And while she isn't doing this as a diet or lifestyle, Hunter could also fit into the larger dieting trend of "mono-meals" where you eat just one food or one type of food at a time. The best (or at least best known) example is Freelee the Banana Girl who made waves a couple of months ago when she posted videos of her diet including eating 50 bananas for one meal and five pounds of potatoes for another.

Proponents say that it spares our already over-taxed systems from having to process more than one type of food at a time. They say digestion goes smoother, you have more energy and that allergens are easier to spot. But several health care experts say it's not a trend people should try for an extended amount of time.

"This type of eating pattern is truly disordered," said Marci Anderson, a Cambridge-based dietitian, to Boston.com. "Mono eating is another fad to add to the ever-expanding list of diets that are unsustainable at best and harmful at worst." She adds that malnutrition can result not only from a combination of inadequate amounts of food, but also an inadequate range or diversity of food.

This is the problem Hunter says she's trying to highlight with her stunt. Not only does she say she's getting plenty of nutrients from her high-quality kibble but she's not planning on doing this beyond her one-month experiment. "I know people think this is crazy, but I can't stress enough how important it is to read labels and see what's in the food you eat — whether it's pet food or human food," Hunter says.

My dad would have adored Hunter. One memorable Thanksgiving he replaced some of the crackers on a cheese tray with dog biscuits as a joke. We all noticed they were crunchier than normal crackers but other than that thought they tasted pretty good. It wasn't until he showed us the box that we freaked out. But maybe we should have just gone with it.

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