National Nutrition Month & The Secret to a Long Life

It’s March 1st and that means we’re kicking off National Nutrition Month.  In the past, I’ve shared some tips for celebrating NNM specifically during the month of March, but now I feel like I’m sharing nutrition tips and tidbits all year long.  Here are some of my most popular nutrition posts to date:

Just Eat the Fries

The One Thing You Shouldn’t Be Eating

5 Food & Nutrition Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

5 Reasons to Skip Juice Cleanses

My Road to R.D.

This year, I’m kicking off NNM with a little story and some advice for living a long and healthy life.  So let’s get to it!

A few weeks ago I gave a nutrition talk to a group of about 40 nuns.  {File that under things I’d never thought I’d do or say.} The company I work for provides the foodservice for a convent here on Long Island, so occasionally I pop in to speak to the sisters.  You may remember my previous job was at a long-term care facility, so I’m super comfortable speaking to the elderly population and I truly enjoy chatting with the ladies at the convent.  

Where am I going with this?  Well, after I gave my presentation (which focused on hydration and general nutrition for the aging population), I was introduced to one nun in particular who was 102 years old.  As in more than a century old!  Can you imagine?  She didn’t look a day over 80 to me. 😉  This nun shared that she purposefully chose her room at the convent based on its distance to the room where all of the recreation activities were held.  But she didn’t choose the closest room, she actually picked the furthest one so she could get a long walk in a few times each day!  Incredible.  Naturally, I asked her what the secret to her longevity was.  She smiled and said “It’s simple-eat well, move a lot and enjoy dark chocolate.”  Now this is advice I can get down with.  In fact, this is what I preach day in and day out.  

dark chop

the secret!

I joked with the nun that she should have been the one giving the nutrition talk that day, not me!  This really got me thinking, though.  What if it really is that simple?  As a society (nutrition professionals included) we tend to complicate things so much.  Eat all the “superfoods”, don’t eat gluten, always eat breakfast, never eat after 6pm, low-fat, high-fat, ahhhh!  We dramatize everything, highlighting the latest tips, tricks and fads.  I’m guilty too, having used a teasing lure in the title of this very blog post!  With all of these crazy messages of what is good and bad, it’s pretty easy to see why we are overwhelmed, confused and frustrated.

Sure, there are a lot of factors that play into our morbidity and mortality.  Of course our genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle choices play a big role in our overall wellness.  But what if living a full healthy and happy life is really as simple as this nun says?  

Eat foods that make you feel good, physically and mentally.

Move when you can and in a way that brings you joy.  

Enjoy dark chocolate, or whatever your favorite treat is, without the stress and guilt.  

And finally, smile.  

What if those are the secrets to living to be over a hundred years old?  I sure hope they are.  Don’t you?

Happy eating, during NNM and beyond!

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2 comments on “National Nutrition Month & The Secret to a Long Life

  1. I love this post! 🙂 Our elders must know what they’re talking about. And often times, I think keeping it simple and not thinking too much about our food is the healthy choice. Just smile and eat dark chocolate 🙂

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