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A Croatian Mom’s Mindful Diet Manifesto

Dolac Market ‘Kumica’ Zagreb (Photo: Marko Vrdoljak/Zagreb Tourist Board)

by Loreta Kovačić

I call myself the Alchemist, AKA your local consumption strategist, the one who struggles between Anarchy and Strategy. And on the top of it, unfortunately, since birth never a fan of the gym or exercise. Struggling with weight gain. Calling it genetic. Finding all the excuses in the world for frequenting McDonald’s before work in the morning. OMG! But from time to time seeing the light! As my mom recently said – “You’ve been threatening us with weight loss for half a century now” Ti se prijetis sa mrsavljenjem vec pola stoljeca! (In Croatian)

Can we do it?! Si se puede!

Cold Turkey? Sure. Cold Turkey.

For a little incentive, I suggest watching a documentary on Diabetes. Spoiler alert!

I created my mindful diet manifesto primarily as a reminder to myself. However, upon further thought, I decided that this can be used by everyone. Just like the well-known manifesto written by Carl Marx (ha ha?!). Back in my childhood in Croatia, one of our school subjects was Marxism. This is totally true! It’s really strange to see it as a credited core class in your transcripts when you are applying for a job in the USA.

So, nevertheless, I decided to share my insight with you, my children, my friends, comrades, free of charge! Completamente gratis, from my head to yours! This manifesto was inspired by my recent trip from my home in Houston to London where I reunited with mom who came in from Croatia. One may call it the old mom’s wisdom.

Mom, 83, and my kids drinking afternoon tea

A Croatian mom’s wisdom! Or maybe my European upbringing. Logical yet inspired thinking perhaps? You choose. Here are my 7 steps to a healthy consumer’s mindful diet. Only 7 steps to our salvation! Be strong and buena suerte.

1. DRINK MORE (tea, juice, coffee) WATER

*Add citrus to water to make water less boring.

*Create original and flavorful juices. How about some freshly squeezed orange/lime juice?

*Take time for tea and coffee. Use sexy and beautiful serving dishes. Never put sugar in tea and coffee. Europeans are proud drinkers of espressos with no sugar. Your coffee drinks from Starbucks are desert, not coffee. Call me preachy-teachy. It’s my mom’s voice.

Džezva coffee pot – photo by Saša Pjanić

* Be inspired by your travels. Right now I am back from England where I enjoyed the British Tea Ceremony. I want to incorporate this into my life: I will need to invest in a nice teapot and look for some flavorful loose teas. When I was little I remember enjoying “British tea” with my mom, using the beautiful, small, shiny porcelain cups and always drinking our tea with a touch of milk. For me, drinking tea is definitely preferable to drinking just plain water, and it’s a lot more fun. I get the Brits!

*Alcohol no bueno. This is what mom says. Just look at the calorie count on those bottles. All in moderation. Do not deprive yourself but don’t be a drinking fool.

*Be mindful.

2. EAT LESS but more times per day

*Choose to eat cool vegetarian dishes instead of fatty meat and pasta plates.

*Leave food on the plate and save it for later. My aunt says never to deprive yourself from any food but eat only a little of it. It’s restraint folks! You don’t have to eat the whole cake. Switch your thinking on this: you are wasteful if you clean your plate not the other way around.

This is tricky. Just like many others, I too have been taught to clean my plate, and now I have to destroy this belief. It’s weird but it can be done. My aunt in Croatia always takes only two bites of delicious Croatian cake and throws away the rest. It makes me uneasy to see that cake go bye-bye. But my aunt is 90 and feeling great. So I need to soak in her wisdom.

*Be mindful. Be artistic. This is about the art of living.

3. CREATE MENUS that are simple and fabulous

*Be insightful. Do your research.

*Be inspired by great chefs, Mr. Google-my boyfriend, your talented chef friends and your travels.

I rediscover foods every time I travel. On this trip to London, I was reunited with porridge. Delicious, filling and lovely breakfast! I rediscovered a tasty salad with walnuts, goat cheese and sweet potato. Adding few things to oatmeal or salad like nuts and fruit can go a long way. In Croatia, we use vinegar and olive oil as salad dressing, and this turns out to be better for you then tasty but fatty salad dressings in America.


Sometimes you cannot find all your ingredients in one store. Invest in great ingredients. Take time to find the good stuff. ENJOY THE PROCESS. You are searching with your heart for your heart!

*Great chefs are great food shoppers. My father says that 99 percent of a great meal is buying great ingredients. I love going shopping for food with him in Zagreb, at our beloved open market, Dolac. It’s a ceremony for dad, and I cannot help but join in his fiesta, this thing he truly enjoys, this fun experience full of insight, from smells to sights, full of communication, socializing and walking, of course.

Dolac (Photo credit: J Duval/Zagreb Tourist Board)

Dad loves to bargain and he knows his salespeople personally. It’s a show! Dad said he retired so that he can dedicate himself to cooking. Needless to say, dad’s favorite subject is anything FOOD. Dad’s favorite activity: shopping for food.

Dad, 83: my favorite chef in Croatia and beyond. What kind of rejuvenating juice is he drinking?

*Shop for food instead of: shopping for unnecessary stuff online, playing video games, watching TV, etc. Reminder: I wrote this to myself. I admit that occasionally I sound preachy. I am a Teachy (teacher).

*Yes we are all busy and we don’t have time. But think of this as your new life-saving hobby.

5. BUY

*Vegetables *Fruits * Fish *Nuts.


*Gluten (Bread, pasta) *Milk (ice cream, cheese) *Sugar *Meat *Alcohol.


And/or bike ride and meditate every day, however much you can, and you will be saved! Those Europeans have it easier; they walk everywhere all the time! So we just have to be more mindful and more creative. Organize a neighborhood walk to a local coffee shop? Walk in the museum on a free night? It’s beautiful and air-conditioned.

Aunt Ana, age 90. Is it in the tea?

*Think about you and your healthy happy family and friends. Love is in your actions!

*Eat, walk, pray and love.


You can check out Loreta’s website here.

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