We've all seen how amazing and slim Scandanavian women are, and we reckon it's not all down to good genes, but actually their great diet. The Nordic Diet really could help you keep those extra pounds off for life. We've looked at the pros and cons and exactly what'll be on the menu...
The great thing about the Nordic Diet is the emphasis on life after the diet. The idea is that your new eating and lifestyle habits will mean you won't put it back on. And you're encouraged to prepare delicious food and to spend time enjoying it with your friends and family, and what could be nicer than that?
What is the Nordic Diet?
Similar to the Mediterranean Diet, the Nordic Diet is based on produce found in a specific part of the world.
The Nordic region includes northern European countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The UK's climate is more like that of northern Europe than the Mediterranean, which makes it a perfect eating plan for us, because a big part of the theory behind it is to eat local, seasonal produce.
The eating plan also encourages you to eat less meat, lots of fish, have smaller portions and to enjoy home-cooked food with family and friends as often as possible.
How does the Nordic Diet work?
The Nordic Diet encourages an all-round healthy lifestyle including exercise, avoiding junk food, upping your fruit and veg intake and reducing the dairy and fat in your diet.
It's a simple philosophy that makes sense, and because you're encouraged to eat local, seasonal food, (you can check what's in season with our clever food calculator), it's better for your pocket and the environment as your food hasn't had to travel in a plane from overseas or in a lorry from the other end of the country. Here are some of the foods the diet suggests you eat:
- Wholegrain spelt, rye and barley - high in fibre and rich in protein
- Cabbages including white red and savoy - low in calories and full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids
- Root vegetables like beetroot, parsnips and carrots - low in calories
- Green veg like peas, spinach and leeks - full of nutrients
- Fish like salmon, mackerel and haddock - rich in protein and nutrients
- Free-range or organic chicken - high protein, low in saturated fat
- Berries like raspberries, blueberries and strawberries - high in antioxidants
- Herbs like dill, parsley, mint and tarragon - full of nutrients
And the pros and cons?
- The Nordic Diet is not a quick-fix weight loss plan. It's great for anyone looking to maintain their current weight and just be healthier all-around, but can also be used if you want to shed some extra pounds.
- You'll lose weight slowly and sensibly on the Nordic Diet - about 1-2lbs per week.
- The Nordic Diet says you should eat seasonal, local food where possible, so no more strawberries in winter that have been grown in Egypt. Although this isn't possible 100% of the time, if you're trying to stick to it with fruit, veg, meat and fish, you could get a bit bored during the colder months.
- Ready meals and processed food aren't allowed which might mean you'll need to spend more time in the kitchen.
- Trina Hahnemann who wrote 'The Nordic Diet' says: 'Growing food in the garden is a great way to save money and guarantee quality. If you want to try your hand at it, kale is easy to look after, grows throughout the winter and is delicious in salads and soups.'
So, how do you do it?
The rules for the Nordic Diet are simple...
Eat seasonal food
This means sticking to fruit and veg like root vegetables, pears and apples in winter and saving berries and asparagus for the summer months. If you're not sure when things are in season, use our seasonal food calendar. This isn't possible to do 100% of the time as things like tea, bananas, coffee and wine aren't made in the UK, and the diet isn't that strict that they're banned! The seasonal rule is mainly for fruit, veg, meat and fish that is available in the UK at some point in the year.
Eat less and eat well
There's no calorie counting on this diet, but you are encouraged to eat less. Trina suggests you do this by buying smaller plates. That way you won't feel hard done by as your portions still look full-sized. She also says that the more time we take cooking really tasty meals, the more satisfied we'll feel afterwards, even if we've not eaten as much as normal.
The Nordic Diet is about your lifestyle as a whole, not just what you eat. Trina's not suggesting we all become gym-obsessed marathon runners, but she does want us to get up off our backsides at every opportunity. Bringing movement into our lives involves walking up the stairs at work, leaving the car at home and walking to the shops and taking your bicycle to the park and having a kick about with kids.
Fish and meat
Eat fish two or three times a week and eat chicken and meat twice a week only. Make the rest of your meals up with veggie dishes.
Cook from scratch, using fresh ingredients. If you eat bread, the diet encourages you to make your own as shop-bought bread can contain lots of refined ingredients and additives to make it last plus it has few nutrients.
Drink 2 litres of water every day. Always have skimmed milk in tea and coffee and try not to have so much caffeine that it makes you jittery. This may make you want to snack more. Try replacing a few of your daily cups of tea and coffee with herbal or fruit teas like green or chamomile tea.
The Nordic Diet meal planners
1 portion of raw oats with fruit and non-fat skimmed milk, or porridge, or a piece of rye bread with cottage cheese and coffee or tea (with no sugar).
A snack between breakfast and lunch is important to make sure you don't get tempted to grab something unhealthy to fill the gap.
1 piece of rye bread with 2 tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese, or if at a desk far away from a kitchen, have some raw vegetables and 10g nuts, like walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds.
A standard lunch like pieces of rye bread with hard-boiled eggs, or potatoes and a portion of raw vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, cucumber and celery stalks. At weekends or at home when you have more time and a kitchen is available, make a soup or some of the other lunch recipes in the book.
1 piece of fruit
1 piece of fish, poultry or game, about 150g (except for days where the meal is vegetarian)
1 big portion of vegetables
2 potatoes or 1 piece of wholegrain bread
1 portion of salad, with lettuce, kale or cabbage
Divide each week as follows:
3 days with fish
2 days with vegetarian meals (like these roast butternut and feta tartlets, pictured below)
2 days with meat
150ml fat-free yogurt with berries or other seasonal fruit or, some nights, a small piece of dark chocolate