American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition


Take All You Want, Eat All You Take

Take all you want, but eat all you take, or How to live to be 94

My grandfather was convinced he would die at 60. All the men in his family died young, and in fact the women seemed to die young too. We just celebrated his 94th birthday, so for the past 34 years each day has been somewhat of a surprise to him.PopPop2

He’s incredibly healthy for 94, he only takes one medication and is still cognitively with it (and handsome!). How can we all live to be so healthy at 94? Here’s how.

  1. Take all you want, but eat all you take. He said this at almost family celebration when my brother and I were little and our eyes got big looking at all the good food. What does this mean? It means if you are hungry, eat. When you are satisfied, stop. If everyone in the family takes just what they need, there will always be enough. To this day he only eats when he is hungry, and he never stuffs himself.
  2. Have a drink or two every day. My grandparents used to keep a pitcher of martinis in the refrigerator so they would always be cold and ready. They also kept a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. When I was about 9 I learned the hard way to always smell what was in my glass before taking a drink.
  3. The food that God put on this Earth for us to eat is always better than processed food from a factory. Be thankful for it and enjoy it. Grow some if you can, especially tart green apples.
  4. Stay active, or you’ll get old. He retired as soon as he could, played golf every morning until he stopped driving, and swam every afternoon, even when he was tired. Exercise is the real fountain of youth.
  5. Be true to yourself, no matter what anyone else says or expects. He moved his family out to Southern California from Detroit in the late 1950s, after seeing the Rose Bowl on TV. Back then, in a Greek family, that meant moving your mother-in-law and sisters-in-law (and their husbands, pets, etc.) too. Everyone thought he was crazy, but if he only had until he was 60 he was not going to spend his mornings shoveling snow.
  6. Don’t take life too seriously. During WWII, while he was in the market wearing his military uniform, a mother brought her young son over to him and said “This soldier eats his oats for breakfast to make him strong, don’t you?” My grandfather looked at that young boy and said “Son, oats are for horses.”

I don’t know what the next 50 years will hold, and I hope I will be alive and well to see my grandchildren, amazing new inventions, and the elimination of hunger and cancer. I do know I’ll always take all I want, but eat all I take.


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