It’s been building momentum as the ‘diet of the moment’ over the summer, but is the Nordic Diet for you? Read my guide before you decide whether or not to eat like a Viking…
WHAT IS THE NORDIC DIET?
Very similar to the hugely popular (and much more well-known) Mediterranean Diet, the Nordic Diet centres around a largely plant-based diet with plenty of fatty fish and whole grains. Based on the cuisine in Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, following the diet means cutting out processed foods and fatty meats, and turning to fish, seasonal fruits and root vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
The main difference between the Mediterranean Diet and the Nordic Diet is the type of oil each recommend using. For the Mediterranean it’s all about olive oil, while the Nordic Diet champions unrefined rapeseed oil, a.k.a. canola oil.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE NORDIC DIET?
The World Health Organization (WHO) found in a major review that both of these diets can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Other studies suggest the diet is an effective eating plan for weight loss and to lower inflammation (a contributing factor to obesity and several chronic health conditions). The diet is based around whole, natural foods and typically contains plenty of fibre, which is important for a healthy functioning digestive system. Turning to a more plant-based diet also has environmental benefits.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT ON THE NORDIC DIET?
Seasonal fruit and veg is in, particularly berries, carrots, beetroots, broccoli, spinach and kale. Whole grains are recommended on the diet and are always preferable over refined ones. Oats, barley, rye and wheat are encouraged as well as healthy fats from unrefined rapeseed oil, nuts and seeds and protein sources such as fish and eggs. To start your day the Nordic way, you might opt for a bowl of porridge with nuts and berries. For your main meal, try a poached wild salmon fillet with a salad of lentils, cucumber and dill dressed with rapeseed oil and lemon juice.
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF THE NORDIC DIET?
While the diet follows many basic principles of eating healthily, if your main goal is weight loss, you’ll probably need to fine-tune the principles to really see results. Too many starchy carbohydrates, such as grains, can compromise weight loss so it’s important to moderate your intake of those, if not eliminating them completely. I’m not generally an advocate for dairy – while some of us can tolerate it, there are a number of reasons why I recommend avoiding it.
The Nordic Diet recommends some good basic principles of healthy eating. Unrefined, minimally processed, natural foods should always take priority over processed convenience foods. Seasonal produce, quality proteins and healthy fats are the cornerstones of a healthy diet. As always, it’s about finding what works for you based on your own unique needs.