Teachings of a 101-year-old
Celebrating a 100th birthday is no longer a rare occurrence today. Researchers agree that nutrition plays a very important role, among other factors, to reach the "Club of the Over-100s.” We want to share with you what we can learn from centenarians when it comes to a healthy diet.
March 7th was the Worldwide Day of Healthy Eating: a day that, unfortunately, only occurs once per year and encourages people of the world to rethink their eating habits. It is a time to consider if we are having too many sweets, too much salty food, too much meat, not enough fruit and vegetables, etc. There is little that has more impact on our health than that of a balanced and nutrient rich diet.
In our interview with Claire Fanti, the 101-year-old mother of ASN’s managing director, we learnt what her eating habits have been over her many decades and what valuable tips she has for us to reach 100 and beyond.
Claire, how is it being over 100-years-old?
Sometimes there's a rock along the way but, overall, I feel well and still experience a lot of joy in life.
I think so, yes. However, I have to say that nutrition is only part of a healthy lifestyle. Of course, there are other things that matter.
How would you describe your diet, in general?
Basically, I eat what I feel like eating and make sure that I eat according to the season. The most important meal for me is lunch. In the evening I eat very little and also in the morning there is only a zwieback with honey. Honey is very important; I eat a bit of it every day. I don't have any dairy products, except a little cheese from the region (Jura).
I still enjoy coking my own food a lot. For frying food, I mostly use sunflower oil or a little butter. For almost all my sauces, I use onions, shallots and garlic. For my salads, I only need a little olive oil and also onions, shallots and garlic, as well as parsley and chives, in spring.
Is there something you eat every day?
I eat seasonal vegetables every day. Now, in winter, it is cabbage, leek, celery, kohlrabi, white turnips, carrots, potatoes and salads; all very healthy. Lentils with caraway seeds are also a regular part of my meals. Otherwise, there is sometimes a little rice, pasta once or twice every two weeks, and very little meat. I also drink a glass of red wine every day.
Actually, not much has changed over the years. But today I eat less meat than before. I have also started cooking more with Indian turmeric and use vegetables like capsicum for sauces. In the summer I have always eaten many blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and various currants. I pick them directly from the bushes and enjoy them immediately.
It is often said that you should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. What do you think about this?
The recommendation to eat a lot of fruit seems sensible to me. Of course, if you eat according to the season and in a natural rhythm then the recommendation is pretty much redundant, since you end up eating a lot of fruit and vegetables anyway. In the course of the day, I eat apples regularly, mandarins and oranges in winter, but not lemons; I don't like them very much. Now chocolate, on the other hand, and from time to time, I like because it is really good and tastes wonderful.
A plant based diet is supposed to keep us fit and young. What do you think of a diet without animal products?
Such ideologies do not interest me at all. It seems very one-sided to me and, in colder climates, such diets could even become dangerous.
What final inside tip on a healthy diet would you give us? Actually, everyone should know what is healthy, because our body signals us what it needs; you just have to listen to it. But, in principle, seasonal products from the region are healthier than imported products from distant countries. That is why I have been swearing by this kind of diet all my life.