When we’re stuck on a rickety elevator, or on a plane landing in turbulence, or in a taxi driven by an Nascar reject, we never think to ourselves—well, if this is it, I’m so glad I ate all those salads. Because at some point in the scheme of things, a life well-lived is measured by the things that made us happy.
Is this terrible medical advice if taken literally? Definitely!
But in that spirit, let’s look to the world’s oldest people, who when interviewed, always have pretty particular, and surprising, eating and drinking habits. Take this as inspiration:
Emma Morano, World’s Oldest Person, 117
Since Morano was a teenager in Italy, she’s eaten three raw eggs a day—now it’s just two. She also likes a bananas, ladyfingers, and brandy, “But I do not eat much because I have no teeth,” she has said. Her other explanation for a long life that I’m just going to throw out there: she’s single.
Yisrael Kristal, World’s Oldest Man, 113
Kristal, who was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, owned a candy shop in Poland before the war, and reopened one after it. His daughter credits his longevity to his love for God, a simple life, and being “someone who takes happiness in everything.” She also told the New York Times that he eats to live rather than lives to eat. That said, he has pickled herring every day, and in his younger years drank wine and beer.
Susannah Mushatt Jones, World’s Oldest Person Until May 2016 at 116
Every day for breakfast in Brooklyn, Mushatt Jones ate four pieces of bacon (her favorite food) with eggs and grits. “I never drink or smoke,” she said, “I surround myself with love and positive energy. That’s the key to long life and happiness.”
Adele Dunlap, Oldest American, 113 (114 in December)
Dunlap, who lives in New Jersey, has always eaten whatever she wanted, enjoyed the occasional martini with her husband, used to smoke, and “ never went out jogging or anything like that,” her son told USA Today. Right now she likes to eat oatmeal, and insisted to USA Today she’s merely 104, despite what records show.
Misao Okawa, Oldest Living Person Until 2015, 117
In Japan, where there are over 65,000 centenarians, Okawa held the record for world’s oldest person until her death in 2015. She told The Guardian, “You have to learn to relax,” in order to hit those digits, but also get plenty of sleep. Her favorite food was sushi, especially mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice.