Friday, 01 December 2023
I’m taking a very different path I’m taking a very different path Gillie Sutherland

The Croatian diet - it’s all about nourishment not punishment

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Jan 15, 2023

While most people are embarking on their diets, detoxes and punishing exercise regimes right now. I’m taking a very different path.

It’s the Croatian way, and it’s all about nourishment not punishment. I’m eating my way through it. And I’m loving every mouthful.

What’s more I know it’s good for me.

I’ve just ploughed my way through a double portion of Sarma, and my body is saying “thank you, that’s just what I needed”.

No guilt, no shame, no “I’ll run that off tomorrow”.

Meanwhile I’ll still be bombarded by the same questions from foreigners in search of what they regard as “health foods”, products they’ve been told are good for them by the smart food marketeers.

“Where’s the salad bars here?”.

“Where do I buy gluten free tortillas?”.

“What about my decaf soya lattes?”.

I sigh, and I have to tell them very simply, without getting annoyed.

“You’re in Croatia. Listen to, and live like the locals. You never know, you may learn something”.

Many that have followed this advice have discovered that they actually can tolerate bread, when they realise that it’s not the gluten that’s causing them issues, it’s the fact that they’re eating the wrong type of bread.

Many find their gut issues disappear when they aren’t hurrying their meals, they’re not eating on the run, but they are taking time over what they eat, and more importantly, they’re eating close to nature.

It’s really simple, if it’s man-made, it’s not designed to be consumed as a food. Everything we need is in nature, but the more we mess with it, the more it will mess with our bodies.

At first I thought it was odd that everyone seemed to cook the same thing. Sarma -for instance, stuffed cabbage leaves, filled with meat and vegetables, is being consumed in homes all over Croatia right now.


Because it’s exactly what the body needs at this time of year.

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Croatian winter cooking - Sarma - Photo by Canva

The cabbage acts as a probiotic, the meat providing essential proteins and healthy fats, and with potatoes on the side, we get a serotonin boost, keeping our mood in check in the cold and dark days, and helping us sleep better.

Salads do not belong in January.

Nor, in my my world, does any kind of crazy detox belong in January, and I’m so thankful that drinking wine at lunchtime on a weekday is perfectly acceptable in Croatia.

active gillie sutherland in croatia

Living according to the rhythms of nature - Photo Hiking Parents

Since I’ve been here I’ve never heard anyone utter the words “Dry January”, and that’s such a relief.

Save your detox for Spring, this is the advice of anyone who knows anything about how our bodies work and about living according to the rhythms of nature.

This is the month to be “cosy”, to enjoy warming meals full of nutrients, to enjoy evenings in with good company, to do what we need to do to stay healthy and happy, and that includes all the things that bring us joy and pleasure.

I mean seriously, isn’t January depressing enough without depriving ourselves of things that make us feel good?

We can be healthy by eating just like they eat here - with everything that is in abundance in nature, with everything that the body needs, no restrictions.

We can stay healthy by getting outside when we can and the sun is out, but staying warm and cosy when it comes to the evening, being with others, cooking lovely food, and just enjoying the small pleasures in life.

We can stay healthy by avoiding processed foods, which the body doesn’t even recognise as food, and therefore doesn’t know how to convert into energy.

We listen to our body not to the food marketers, with a vested interest in keeping us consuming.

Our body knows what it needs, if we only slow down enough to listen.

For me it’s simple. My body needs good home-cooked Croatian food, cosy nights, cuddles and not to restrict myself from anything that feels good.

If it makes you feel good, do it. But let’s not make this life even more difficult than it is, right?

Treat yourself and others kindly, and everything will be ok.


Read more Gillie here...


About The Author:

Gillie Sutherland grew up in the Lake District on the border between England and Scotland, but has now made Croatia her home. As well having her own online yoga and well-being business, Gillie plays an active role in the International Community here in Croatia, running events, activities and holidays. She is passionate about nature, wellness and adventure, swimming in the sea all year round and spending weekends hiking.

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