Diet Plan Information: Nordic Diet

Nordic Diet


What is the Nordic Diet Plan?

The Nordic diet plan suggests eating the food of the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden) which includes plenty of local vegetables and seafood. There is some debate on exactly what the Nordic diet plan consists of but the general consensus is that you should be consuming whole, unprocessed foods that are local to the area in which you live. “While the Nordic diet isn’t proven to prevent heart disease to the same extent as the Mediterranean diet, it’s clearly a step above the average American diet, which has too much processed food and meat to be considered good for the heart” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015).


How Do You Implement the Nordic Diet Plan

In many ways, the Nordic diet plan is very similar to the Mediterranean diet plan as both emphasize eating whole foods with a focus on seafood and vegetables. The main difference is that the Nordic diet uses canola oil while the Mediterranean diet uses extra virgin olive oil. This diet is considered a balanced diet as no major nutrient group is excluded.

Peoples living in the Nordic region practice “hygge” (pronounced hooga) which encourages fostering a sense of contentment to help with your overall well-being. Additionally, Swedes suggest following “lagom” (pronounced lahgum) which roughly translates into “not too much, not too little.” This is greatly applicable to dieters who are looking to lose weight in terms of portion control and moderation.


What Can You Eat on the Nordic Diet Plan?

The Nordic diet plan emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods. It also suggests eating seasonal foods like in-season berries and seafood.

  • Fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, apples, plums)
  • Vegetables (carrots, cabbage potatoes, turnips, parsnips, bok choy, beets, garlic, onions, broccoli, leeks)
    Whole Grains (whole-grain crackers and bread, rye, barley, oats)
  • Legumes (peas, beans)
  • Oils (canola oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil)
  • Nuts and Seeds (flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • Seafood (mackerel, tuna, white fish, herring, salmon, cod)
  • Low-Fat Dairy (skyr [Icelandic yogurt], cheese, milk)
  • Local Meat (elk, venison, turkey, chicken, rabbit, bison)


What Can’t You Eat on the Nordic Diet Plan?

You’ll need to avoid processed foods to adhere to the Nordic diet. In general, try to stick to whole foods and avoid:

  • Simple Carbs (white bread, pastries, donuts)
  • Processed Foods
  • Fast Food
  • Sugary Drinks (sodas, fruit juices)


Pros of the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Environmentally Friendly: Since you’re eating foods that are locally-sourced, your carbon footprint is relatively low. “A food intake… which emphasizes more plant-based and less animal-based foods is necessary for high environmental sustainability” (Meltzer et al., 2019).
  • Weight Loss: Because you’re consuming whole, unprocessed foods, you’re likely to lose weight while on the Nordic diet plan. Furthermore, since you’ll be cooking your food at home, you know exactly what ingredients are getting into your meals.


Cons of the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Time-Consuming: Not being able to run through that fast food drive-thru can be a drag, especially for people who are busy with jobs or families. Many people don’t have the time to cook all of their meals at home.
  • Expensive: Switching from cheap, processed food to locally-sourced, organic foods can put a burden on your wallet. For those without some extra expendable income, the cost of the Nordic diet and be prohibitively expensive.


Books on the Nordic Diet Plan

  • The Nordic Diet: Using Local and Organic Food to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle (Hahnemann): “The Nordic Diet is all about eating locally sourced seasonal ingredients in a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial fats. The traditional diet of Northern Europe emphasizes quality homemade and homegrown food—with an attempt at moving away from processed foods—and consists of a wide variety of grains, berries, vegetables, fish, poultry, and game meats.”
  • The Nordic Way: Discover The World’s Most Perfect Carb-to-Protein Ratio for Preventing Weight Gain or Regain, and Lowering Your Risk of Disease (Astrup, Brand-Miller & Bitz): “There’s complex science at work behind the Nordic Diet, yet it’s remarkably simple and delicious to adopt. Readers will be able to see significant improvements in their health and weight—and even prevent the dreaded middle-age spread—without ever having to count a single calorie or eliminate carbs, dairy, and meat.”
  • The New Nordic: Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen (Bajada): “Split into nine chapters, The New Nordic is based on different food groups including ingredients found ‘from the forest,’ ‘from the sea,’ ‘from the land,’ and ‘in the larder,’ along with a ‘basics’ chapter that demystifies classic Scandinavian cooking techniques such as pickling and smoking food.”


Evidence-Based Studies on the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Weight Loss: Participants in the study who followed the Nordic diet plan for 6 months lost an average of 10.4 pounds. “An ad libitum [new Nordic diet] roduces weight loss and blood pressure reduction in centrally obese individuals” (Poulsen et al., 2014).
  • Lower Chronic Disease Risk: “In the EPIC-Potsdam cohort, the Nordic diet showed a possible beneficial effect on myocardial infarction in the overall population and for stroke in men, while both scores reflecting the MedDiet conferred lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the overall population and of myocardial infarction in women” (Galbete et al., 2018).
  • Lower Cardiovascular Disease: “A diet based on the authorities’ dietary recommendation and consisting of Nordic ingredients improves the risk profile in those who are predisposed to developing cardiovascular disease” (Berild, Holven & Ulven, 2017).
  • Environmentally Sustainable: “The Nordic countries, with their tradition of strong political co-operation and communication, could become some of the leaders in making the global food system healthier and more sustainable” (Meltzer et al., 2019).

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