Well-balanced diets that emphasize eating whole foods while don’t eliminate entire food groups are considered the best option if your goal is maintaining good health and overall well-being. The Nordic diet falls in this category.
The Nordic diet is an eating pattern typical for people who live in Nordic countries, including Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, and Iceland. It emphasizes substituting processed foods with whole, seasonal, regional food. This diet has many similarities with the Mediterranean but promotes using canola oil rather than extra virgin olive oil.
Experts agree that the Nordic diet can aid in controlling levels of cholesterol and blood sugar levels, decrease elevated blood pressure, and reduce inflammatory markers. In addition, some people note weight loss upon following this nutritional approach, but this topic is still controversial.
The Nordic diet doesn’t have strict rules and extreme limitations. Instead, this nutritional approach encourages you to go for seasonal, local, healthy foods and advocates reducing the consumption of fat, sugar, and processed foods. General guidelines of the Nordic diet describe what foods should be the foundation of your meals, what foods are best to consume in moderation, and what should be avoided.
Foods to eat often:
- whole grains
- rye bread
- nuts and seeds
- canola oil
- herbs and spices
- fish and seafood
- low-fat dairy
Foods to eat in moderation:
- free-range eggs
- game meat
Foods to eat rarely:
- red meat
- animal-derived fat
Foods to avoid:
- all forms of added sugar
- sugary beverages
- food additives
- fast foods
- processed meats
In addition, creators of the Nordic diet point out the importance of eating mindfully and taking time to enjoy meals with loved ones.
There are no contraindications to the Nordic diet because it is a very flexible nutritional approach. However, since this diet promotes eating fish, pregnant and breastfeeding women and children should be precautious about the mercury levels in fish.
Remember that it is best to consult your doctor before trying any new diet.
How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies
Since the Nordic diet is pretty flexible and doesn’t eliminate entire food groups, people following this nutritional approach generally don’t develop specific dietary deficiencies.
Tips on improving your dieting experience
As was mentioned earlier, mindful eating is an essential part of the Nordic diet. However, some people may be uncertain about what this term means and how to start eating this way. So let’s figure it out together.
Mindful eating is a practice that helps you eat more consciously and focus on your eating experience. Nowadays, people get used to eating quickly and automatically, distracted by smartphones, television, work, etc. The problem with such an approach is that our brains need time to recognize that we are full. Therefore, eating in a hurry can often lead to overeating.
Practicing mindful eating allows you to slow down, recognize feelings of hunger and fullness, and improve your eating experience. Mindful eating includes:
- be attentive to your body’s signals and eat only until you are full
- eat when you experience physical hunger
- eating slowly and employing senses by recognizing the smell, texture, flavors, colors, and sounds
- be aware of your reaction to particular foods and the effects they have on your overall health
- eating without distractions (smartphones, computers, TV, etc.)
- eating with friends or family
- eating at the table (not on the go or standing)
- choosing healthy, nutritious foods
- appreciating the food you have and where it comes from
The Nordic diet is a well-balanced, flexible, and healthy nutritional approach. It doesn’t have strict rules and limitations and allows you to enjoy the benefits of eating whole, nutrient-dense foods. In addition, since the Nordic diet emphasizes choosing seasonal, locally-grown foods, it is considered an environmentally-friendly eating pattern.