The Nordic Diet

The one with grains, vegetables and protein
Monday , 02 May 2011
The Nordic Diet

CELEBRITY FANS: Alexander Skarsgard, Lara Stone

WHAT’S INVOLVED: Like the highly-acclaimed Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet offers a balance of whole grains, vegetables and sources of protein that are low in saturated fats. The main difference separating the two diets is the lack of pasta and olive oil in the Nordic diet which, many devotees argue, makes the rustic Nordic way of eating far healthier than that of their sun-drenched Mediterranean counterparts.

Forget counting calories and endless weighing of ingredients, the Nordic diet is all about good wholesome food, eating until you feel full. Focusing on seasonal ingredients, the diet can be adapted according to the time of year to ensure that the food on your plate is constantly changing according to the local produce available to you. Grains including spelt, rye, oats and barley, all of which are high in fibre and rich in protein feature heavily, while the rest of the diet is made up of vegetables like cabbage, kale and Brussels sprout. An abundance of cold water fish including cod, herring, salmon, mackerel and haddock is key, alongside lean meat, poultry and game. Antioxidant-rich blueberries, blackberries and currants are essential, providing huge levels of vitamins in addition to bucket-loads of skin-boosting extras.


  • To not be a vegan or vegetarian - this diet focuses heavily upon fish and meat
  • To be ready to try foods you may not have sampled before, like herring or mackerel
  • To be willing to make some food swaps - some meats like wild boar and rabbit are virtually impossible to get hold of in the UAE, but you could make imaginative substitutions like chicken, turkey and game to suit the recipes

VERDICT: Completely gimmick-free, the Nordic diet is based on the dieting principles that work. Less complex carbohydrates which leave your sugar and hunger levels crashing, more good fats and protein and plenty of greens means you stay fuller for longer. Rather than a quick-fix diet which can be followed for a fortnight, this is more of a life change so, if you're looking for a new way of healthy eating that will benefit both your figure and your health, this is the way to go. More to the point, if it makes you look as gorgeous and svelte as most Scandinavians and Nordic folk, who are we to question it?

Ryan Penny, Clinical Nutritionist and Conditioning Coach for The Wellness Brothers, shares this advice: “The value of a ‘lifestyle’ plan is again emphasised by the Nordic diet. Beyond the otherwise great food and lifestyle approach, there is another great principle to be applied. Eat only until you feel full - not a single bite more. This means that you need to be aware of how you feel through the meal, which is best achieved by eating slowly and mindfully. Two great ways to lose weight.

The name of this diet also gives me the opportunity to highlight the point of the right ethnic dietary fit. Assuming that a cultural way of eating (even a really good one) will automatically suit another ethnic group is not always helpful. Different people do well on different diets as the breakthrough in gene testing and Nutrigenomics (a fancy term for describing the link between your genes and your food) has now confirmed. What we would all do well to do is let the majority of our food come from what is natural to our heritage and culture. Difficult to do, I know, but definitely something we can pay attention to when back home - eat locally.”

Have you tried this diet? If so, let us know what you think in the comment box below.

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