Do you want to be in the "Blue Zone?"

Healthier ways of living

For many of us these last 18 months have been a drastic change in lifestyle, and for a variety of reasons. If our focus was to not get sick, did that make us healthier in our lifestyle choices?

Maybe you stopped doing the office commute or you changed up your gym habits for other activities. Perhaps you changed your entire perspective on life and now you value different things like more family time or more home-cooked meals. I’m sure we can agree those could all be healthier options.

But we started this pandemic in lockdown, sitting on the couch eating potato chips while watching Netflix. The only supply no one worried about running out of seemed to be alcohol. The “Covid 15” (as in pounds) became everyone’s new baggage. That part wasn’t so healthy. However, its effects did motivate many folks to begin new diets and take up more exercise habits.

What if I told you that diet and exercise changes are not the number one reason people live longer and healthier lives? To start with, both of these changes are often time bound. A real shift in quality of life tends to come from long-term changes, as in new habits that are an automatic part of our regular days.

Habits are easier to keep if they are common in a community.

• If more people in the community eat healthier in their day-to-day routine, then the grocery stores are more likely to continue carrying healthy items.

• When it’s easier to take public transit or walk in a community, people only use their cars for specific trips.

• Having accessible green spaces and trees encourages people to get out, and people out and about take pride in their community, maintaining it well.

An added benefit from this sort of community-building is a reduction of the carbon footprint. How fortuitous that efforts to improve one area of our world ends up helping another one too. It’s as if the universe wants us to do the right thing.

There was a study done years ago by National Geographic showing the places in the world that consistently have the longest living souls. They analyzed what factors in those environments were making this happen and discovered it was due to everyday lifestyle. There was no special pill or quick fix, you had to put in the time. Diet and exercise contributed only when they became part of a commitment to a healthier life. They called these places Blue Zones.

Have you adopted healthier habits that will continue as the world shifts back into a regular routine? Do you feel less stressed than you did before the pandemic, or more? If you’d like to consider what seems to work to live longer and enjoy the extra miles.

Here are the common principles people in Blue Zones have:

• Move naturally. It’s not about being a weekend warrior between those stressful office days or running a marathon or pumping weights. Activities that encourage us to move without thinking about it are the secret. Tending a garden (especially by hand, without machines to do much of the work) is a great example of this principle.

• Have a purpose. People who know why they wake up in the morning and get out of bed have a life expectancy as much as seven years longer than those drifting aimlessly.

• Down shift daily. Taking time to reflect, meditate or connect deeply with oneself keeps our stress levels lower. (Napping, praying and even a happy hour with loved ones are examples from Blue Zone communities.)

• 80% full is full enough. When eating meals, we need to eat slowly and have our biggest meal not at the end of the day.

• Plant-slant is the way to eat. Established Blue Zone communities eat meat only five times per month. Legumes are a major source of protein and serving sizes are three to four ounces.

• Wine at 5 (p.m.). People in four out of five Blue Zones drink a glass of wine a day, with friends and food.

• Faith counts. Being part of a faith-based community adds years to your life, according to generations of Blue Zoners. Attending regular services is crucial.

• Loved ones First. Families stick together in Blue Zones. Everyone cares and looks out for everyone else.

• Find your right tribe. A social network of even as few as five people (all of them with good Blue Zone-style habits helps us all live longer.

Let’s face it, even if we don’t live longer, doing these things, can at least put more life into the years we do have left.

We all deserve to come out of this mess better off than when we went in.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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