Satchel Paige’s Rules for A Healthy Life

Satchel Paige was a true American original. Born in 1906 in Mobile, Alabama, he began his career as a pitcher in the Negro leagues, moved to the major league in 1948, and played his last major league game as a 59-year-old. He was a remarkable, charismatic fellow on and off the field, and lived a long and eventful life. He credited that longevity to certain rules for living that he devised:

“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.”
“If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”
“Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.”
“Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society—the social ramble ain’t restful.”
“Avoid running at all times.”
“And don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.”

Simple and perfect!

A couple of decades ago I was working in an independent bookstore. I was amazed at the number of diet books. And the number of weird diet books. Eat your colors, eat your horoscope, only eat carbohydrates, don’t eat carbohydrates, don’t eat green beans on Tuesday, eat only cheese and grapefruit, eat only chocolate chip cookies and cider vinegar. It’s an industry! I joked, at the time, that I was going to write a book called “The DUH Diet.”

There are some ideas about eating that just make sense (to me!), and they’re not new ideas or revolutionary ideas. They’re not eating habits that are difficult to live with. Inspired by Satchel Paige’s Rules for Long Life I’m going to present a few of these commonsense ideas:

  • Enjoy every bite you eat. Don’t stuff something down your throat that you don’t really like the taste of–that you don’t really have a hankering for–just because it’s mealtime or you’re hungry or it’s sitting in front of you. It’s okay to feel hungry once in a while, as you wait for the food you really want. Most of us go through life snacking whenever our stomachs get a little grumbly. Let yourself feel hungry before a meal. It’ll wake you up! You’ll enjoy it more.
  • Drink lots of water. Good for every part of you.
  • Eat cookies and potato chips if you feel like it, but enjoy them. Eat a handful, not a bagful.
  • Satchel said avoid fried meats. I’d say avoid all meat or try to go easy on it. Bad for the animal, bad for the planet, bad for your body, bad for your soul.
  • Try to avoid fast-food restaurants. Bad for the planet, bad for every part of you.
  • Enjoy rich foods, like cheesy pasta, but have that be a small part of your meal, and eat a big salad with it or a big bowl of soup. Fill up on fruits and vegetables.

It’s a simple plan, easy to maintain, free to implement. Not a diet but a joyful way to approach eating so that you’re healthy, happy, and strong.

Satchel said “jangle gently as you walk,” which I love. Do it every day! Go for a walk, or a run, or jump around your living room. Get your heart beating and your blood flowing.

-Claire Adas

Photo: Satchel Paige baseball card (Wikimedia Commons)

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