Don’t Eat Like a Hummingbird

Don’t Eat Like a Hummingbird

Not if you want to lose weight.

by Boyd Jentzsch

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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.

Hummingbirds eat like a horseFlapping their wings 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 fly over 500 miles non-stop migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

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

Have you ever watched hummingbirds at a feeder? BIRDS, as in “several.”

HUMMINGBIRDS ARE INTENSELY AGGRESSIVE EATERS. 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 human-supplied feeder without a fight.

jumming birds Weight loss motivationSo they dive, 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 with their long tongues 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 sugar-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 (much like people). 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.

jumming birds Weight loss motivationDo 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 day-after-tomorrow’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.

jumming birds Weight loss motivationYou 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, plus
  • (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.

jumming birds Weight loss motivationHummingbirds 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?

jumming birds Weight loss motivationWhat 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?

jumming birds Weight loss motivationIn short: Don’t eat like a hummingbird unless you are going to exercise like a hummingbird.

Would NOT eating like a hummingbird make your body lighter?

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© 2009, 2014 Boyd Jentzsch. All rights reserved.

By special arrangement with the author, CHAPTERS from the book HEART PLAN are published here regularly. HEART PLAN is not about what you eat. It is all about how you FEEL – your sense of SELF – when you are trying to lose weight. Sign up to receive the new Chapters as they are published here.

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-by Boyd Jentzsch

View Boyd Jentzsch's profile on LinkedIn

Boyd, a recovering Attorney, turned to weight loss research 20 years ago when he lost his mother to the lifelong effects of obesity. He has spent the ensuing years searching the science, and formulating a comprehensive metabolic map of the body — the only complete map of its kind. The map reveals the causes and effects of obesity and related chronic lifestyle diseases. It shows the only proven pathways to preventing and losing excess weight. From that unique foundation, he and his team created a weight loss education program that has helped tens of thousands to lose weight and keep it off. Plus, they created innovative and fun fitness and nutrition education programs for elementary school children, proven to reduce the early bio-markers for childhood obesity. HEART PLAN is a collection of his observations over the years of the emotional impact and motivational challenges nearly everyone faces when trying to keep lost weight off permanently.

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  1. julie ferguson gould says

    Great article Laura. Its a great motivator for me to really think of what exercise i am doing compared to the food that I am eating…

  2. Jennifer Hiles says

    Wow, I just learned a tremendous amount about humming birds. I had no idea. I guess if I were to think about it (how much they flap their wings) then it does make sense. But to be able to eat your weight in food each day…wow! That picture with the hummingbirds and the goldfish is crazy. I will not be eating like humming bird!

  3. Virginia Rogers says

    Wow did not know hummingbirds could eat like that, if I at my weight in food daily I would be in worse shape than am now. 🙂

  4. Katrina A. says

    Interesting read. I love hummingbirds. And yes it’s crazy how they fight and dive bomb each other for food and eat none stop all day. I just need to be more active like they are. I cannot imagine having the energy or strength to fly 500 miles non stop!

  5. Rebecca Swenor says

    This is interesting and a great analogy. If you are not moving and exercising you don’t need a lot of food for body fuel. The more energy you burn the more fuel you need. Thanks for sharing.

  6. What an interesting analogy! I don’t eat like a hummingbird but my husband does for sure.

  7. This is interesting. I have done a few reviews on this bird. Thanks for sharing


  8. Great post. Many people (myself included) tend to scarf down their food, and the better it tastes, the more they eat. What we forget is that we aren’t living in a cave. We know where our food is coming from, and we know it will be there tomorrow. So eat accordingly.

  9. I am the same with over eating and not doing enough exercise to compesensate for the extra calories.

  10. I do not necessarily eat like a hummingbird, but if i like something i tend to over eat.. which is not good in its own right.

  11. My problem is more that I eat on the go constantly. Rarely do I sit down and enjoy a meal; instead, I prop it on the counter and take a few bites here and there.

  12. This was quite educational about humming birds. thanks for the great article.

  13. I didn’t know any of this about hummingbirds. My friend has a feeder in her yard and I thought it looked so pretty I was considering getting one here. She said they sure come, I’ll have to ask her if they eat aggressively at her place. 🙂

    Great link in to eating too, btw!

  14. That is really thought provoking actually. I had no idea that is what they were like and the parallel to people is really interesting.

  15. I thought I knew humming birds…UNTIL TODAY! So much information! And good comparitive advice on eating for losing weight. Thanks for the post!

  16. Jessica Peeling says

    This is a really great post! I never knew that about hummingbirds.. really interesting! I feel like some days I do eat like a hummingbird, and definitely don’t exercise like one. Great tips!

  17. So crazy! I had no idea they ate that much! I have to get better at my eating habits. Thanks for this post!

  18. I think we can adopt the hummingbird’s active lifestyle though not their voracious appetite. They probably have a faster metabolism.

  19. This is an interesting concept. I will definitely think about this more.

  20. Interesting facts! I don’t know much about hummingbirds, until I’ve read this post.

  21. my husband and I realize long ago that even how much food you eat today you will still get hungry after in a few hours. so instead just have the foods we love and eat just enough that we can have desserts and nice drink after and just full enough and not overeat

  22. Hummingbirds are so cute! I want to get a feeder in my yard so I can watch them.

  23. I use hear people say that I eat like a bird but I don’t think that they realized that birds eat quite a bit of food.

  24. I never knew they ate so much! It does make sense with how active they are.

  25. michele d says

    Interesting facts about Hummingbirds never knew that they are like a horse. Wow!

  26. Alaina Bullock says

    What a great post! I really has me thinking about what I am doing for exercise, and how I can add more to my routine. Plus, so many interesting facts about hummingbirds!

  27. This is such an interesting concept! Thanks for sharing

  28. that’s what I need to do….move around when I eat! Then I would be feeding myself and burning calories off at the same time!

  29. The Hummingbird facts are definitely interesting. My mom used to say that my sister ate like a bird (picky and not very much), but in reality that was actually not the truth. I could always improve my eating habits for sure.

  30. I believe in this article. We don’t need to eat a lot to have more energy. Energy can come from many ways. Thanks for the motivation and I hope everyone who wishes to lose weight and have a healthy lifestyle will remember this.

  31. Haha, I like the way you approached this. So good. I especially loved the pregnant hummingbird. And since I don’t exercise like one, I will try not to eat like one.

  32. I love hummingbirds they are very cute! I’ve seen a couple this year actually.

  33. Teresa McCluskey says

    Birds are amazing right!?! I agree this is some great motivation!

  34. It makes sense that they eat so much since they are always moving.

  35. This is really a great way to look at things. This is really motivating.

  36. Maria Oller says

    Fantastic article sadly the last 8 month I been eating like a hummingbird and exercising like a cactus.I might need to exercise like a hummingbird and eat like a cactus after the baby arrives.

  37. I have to admit that you got me. Sometimes I do eat like someone’s going to steal my food. I do have a crazy appreciation for food 🙂 I ‘ve never known all of these and will now really try harder!

  38. I don’t think I eat like a hummingbird, but I’ll start paying attention for sure. I appreciate the analogy!

  39. This is such an interesting post! I try my best to limit my eating, and I’m trying to exercise more this summer!

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