Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't Eat Like a Hummingbird. Ideas to Eat Less – to Live More

(Photo Courtesy: MDF/Wikipedia)

"She eats like a bird." How many times have you heard that said? And
what better model for that than the itsy, bitsy, tiny hummingbird.
"She is so tiny, I bet she eats like a hummingbird."

Maybe you ought to eat like a hummingbird to lose weight. Right?

Well, let's explode that myth.

Hummingbirds are tiny beautiful creatures. And they eat like a horse. Several horses, actually.

Tiny bodies. Tiny tongues. Tiny stomachs. You wouldn't expect them to have horrendous appetites. Yet, despite their small size, hummingbirds consume their body weight in food daily. Flapping their wings up to 90 times a second requires a lot of energy. On the build-up to their annual migration they can double their body weight in fat. Flying in excess of 30 mph, they have been known to fly over 500 miles non-stop migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

So what do hummingbirds have to do with my weight loss problem?

Have you ever watched hummingbirds at a feeder? Birds, as in "several." They are intensely aggressive feeders. Never more than a few hours away from literally starving to death, they need their food in huge, never-ending quantities. Having found a good source of nectar they are not going to let another hummingbird consume the scarce commodity found in a feeder without a fight.

So they dive and attack, retreat and pursue each other. Every few minutes they return to the feeder to drive off a competitor, quickly get their beaks into the juice, then suck as fast as they can before they are interrupted by a rival. The contest over food goes on all day, and begins again at first light.

There is more than a little irony here. The red liquid food in the feeder is not scarce. It is virtually unlimited. Humans always refill it before it is empty. The same birds come to the same feeder every day, all day long, all Summer long. They even return to the same feeder after wintering in Mexico – they come back because they know there is no end to the food available to them.

However, hummingbirds don't trust their own experience. Their instincts, their genetic programming, tells them not to trust their daily, yearly experience of plentifulness. So they compete for food like there will be none left for them if other hummingbirds are allowed to eat even a tiny bit.

Do you eat like a hummingbird?
Trouble is, humans are more than a little like hummingbirds. It's less of a competition thing between people, and more of a scarcity reaction. We eat like there may not be enough food for us tomorrow. So, we consume tomorrow's calories today. Even some of the next day's calories.

Then, having eaten like we are getting ready to fly 500 miles non-stop to Mexico under our own power, we take a nap. Not to sleep it off, but to store it all up... never know when you might need to use up 6 months of fat stores, right?

The hummingbird gets away with having a voracious appetite because it is exercising like a self-made mini-hurricane the entire time it is hovering and eating. You could do the same. If you are going to eat like a hummingbird, exercise like a hummingbird. Alternatively, don't eat so much.

You don't have to starve yourself, nor should you. But if you have stored several days, or weeks, (or months) worth of food under your skin, then perhaps you know by now that:

(a) food for you is not likely to be scarce anytime soon, and

(b) you could safely eat less than you have been, with no ill effects

(c) you don't have to worry about your neighbor eating all the food in your cupboard, and

(d) you ought to "unpack" some of your fat reserves (since you're not going to be flying to Mexico any time soon – at least not under your own power)

Don't eat like a hummingbird
Like a hummingbird, you need to override your instinct to eat voraciously.

You also need to know that eating like you have been is a waste of money, a waste of good food, (and a consumption of non-sustainable packaging and transport). It is an indulgence that ends up settling around your waist. And sooner or later it is going to cause you life changing, even life-threatening health problems.

Hummingbirds have an excuse for eating the way they do. Hummingbirds also exercise vigorously to keep their "energy in:energy out" ratio in tight balance – have you ever seen a fat hummingbird?

What is your excuse for eating the way you do? What is your reason to not use exercise to keep your "energy in:energy out" ratio in tight balance?

In short: don't eat like a hummingbird unless you are going to exercise like a hummingbird.

So, are you ready to eat like a bird, a hummingbird?

Would not eating like a hummingbird really make your day lighter?

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