Every summer my husband puts out several feeders of sugar water for the hummingbirds.
They consume so much sugar water that in the height of summer he has to refill them nearly every day.
I also plant lots of flowers for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies so they can get the natural nectar they need, in addition to the sugar water and insects they consume.
In order to survive their fall migrations hummingbirds musts feed every 10-15 minutes during the summer, consuming about half their body weight.
We humans, on the other hand, do not need to consume so much sugar. But you’d never know it by looking at us.
Earlier this year my brother and I were at a festival in Florida and he commented to me about the startling number of obese people who were there. He was absolutely right. The U.S. has become a country where many people are overweight, unhealthy, or obese.
As of 2021, 41.9% of Americans fit the medical description of obese. That is an alarming percentage! 18% of those are considered severely obese. 74% of the remaining 58.1% of us are medically overweight.
At the beginning of this year I was in the slightly overweight category. I have a goal this year to lose 20 pounds. I get exercise each day but my main way of doing this is limiting foods in my diet that are packed with sugar and flour. It is a challenge. Especially for the sugar. Nearly every prepackaged food product we buy contains sugar.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a study of prepackaged foods and beverages and found that 60% of them contain some form of added sugar. Another study examined 600,000 food items sold in the U.S. and found that 80% of them contain some form of added sugar.
The sugar industry in the U.S. is powerful and secure. It is hugely subsidized by the federal government. They spend $4 billion of taxpayers’ money each year, that’s about $50 per family, to run a program that regulates sugar production through supply controls and keeps sugar prices high here, more than double other world prices.
Those artificially high sugar prices discourage use of agricultural land for other products that would be healthier, but possibly less profitable. Health organizations say we should consume less sugar, so the government, as usual, sends out conflicting messages – paying farmers to grow sugar while telling people to eat less sugar.
If we eat properly, we can get the sugars our bodies need from natural and whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The absolute worst type of food products to consume are soft drinks and bottled fruit drinks. There are 39 grams of added sugar in just one 12-ounce can of Coke. 39 grams of sugar is 78% of the daily recommended sugar intake – in just one can!
4 grams of sugar, whether added or natural, equals 1 teaspoon. So that one can of Coke contains nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. For a 2,000 calorie per day diet, total sugar intake per day, to be at a healthy level, should be around 50 grams or 12 teaspoons.
My diet is now focused on high protein foods with fresh, natural fruits and vegetables. It’s especially easy to do in summer when roadside stands and markets are full of nutritious, locally grown fruits and vegetables. I am trying to limit the amount of carbohydrates and sweet, sugary foods I eat by eating smaller portions and not having them every day.
It works. I’m slowly losing the weight. I am confident I will reach my goal. If I backslide, which I have done on holidays and special occasions, and indulge in too many sugary or high carb foods, I see it immediately on the scale. The weight comes back on. So with each pound I lose I’m motivated to keep going.
I feel better, I look better, and have come to appreciate a life that is not so sweet. It just takes determination combined with will power.
For those who can’t do this with just determination and will power, there are eating plans that can be followed. Both the Atkins and South Beach diet plans are focused on reducing sugar and carbs in daily eating.
Instead of a blueberry muffin with that cup of morning joe, have a bowl of fresh blueberries. The substitutions are easy. And delicious! When you do it, before long you will have created a whole new way of eating that gets you into a healthier, more energetic life.
“The average man, woman, and child in the U.S. consumes, on average, 43 teaspoons of sugar a day. In just 13 days that adds up to a 5-lb bag of sugar!.”John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
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