We arrived to Znojmo, Czech Republic (Karel's hometown) on Thursday August 4th and his first meal request from his mom was SVÍČKOVÁ. Karel's dish (pictured above) was the classic version whereas mine was made vegetarian.
Until now (when I looked it up for this article), I had no idea how this meal was made.
"Svíčková is a famous sauce from Czech cuisine, made from root vegetables and heavy cream. It’s thickened with roux. Svíčková sauce is eaten warm poured over a beef slice, accompanied with bread dumplings. You can also garnish the final dish with lemon, cranberries, and a scoop of whipped cream."
I love this meal (vegetarian version) because it's so incredibly tasteful. It's also very comforting for Karel - it brings him a lot of great memories.
Mindfullness has many definitions but one that speaks to me is from this article that states "being aware of what is happening both inside your body, heart and mind - and outside in your environment, without criticism or judgement. Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness."
For Karel, food serves an added role when he is in Czech. It's not just for fuel and for nourishment but it brings back so many wonderful memories. From the dishes prepared by Karel's mom to ice cream and candy bar selections in the grocery store, every bite takes him back to a time and a place.
For me, I want to celebrate Karel's culture and rituals. The only way I can do that is to maintain a good relationship with food while I am in Czech. To do this, I must eat mindfully. I can't read the ingredients or food labels (everything is in Czech) so besides asking Karel if something is vegetarian and OK for me to eat, the only way I know how something makes me feel when I eat it is to savour every bite and to really focus on what I am eating.
I love trying different types of spreadable cheese, pastries and yogurts - discovering which one tastes the best or which one makes my tummy smile. I don't know if a food or meal is 100 calories or 1000 calories so instead, I listen to my body and my body tells me when I'm satisfied.
My food related decisions are created based on my senses - not from rules, guidelines or ingredient lists. For many people, the act of mindful eating could feel overwhelming and scary but with practice, it can help foster a great relationship with food. By focusing on the how and why of eating, you can better understand what foods help you to stay healthy, fueled and satisfied - fostering a deeper appreciation for every meal.
To help get you started with mindful eating, here are a few simple tips:
- Engage the senses and remove distractions - turn off the TV or screen or put down the book. Sit uninterrupted.
- Eat slowly. Savor the flavors, aromas and textures. Reconnect with your senses.
- Chew each bite at least 10+ times. Taste your food.
- Ignore any emotions, thoughts or feelings around food. Simply enjoy the experience of eating without guilt, anxiety or inner commentary.
During every trip to Czech with Karel, I learn how to eat more mindfully. It's not about changing the food I eat but changing my thinking around food.