The Swedish diet is getting a lot of press these days.
Its name is a bit misleading. The Swedish diet isn’t just another fad in the dieting world that you’ll try for a couple of weeks before giving up. It’s actually the recommended food guide for all of Scandinavia.
Otherwise known as the Nordic diet, the Swedish diet is the lifeblood of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. It's primarily based on products naturally produced in these countries.
Scandinavia is a beautiful part of Europe. It’s also an area known for being rich in root vegetables, fish, herbs, berries and whole grains.
So, what's so great about the Swedish diet then, and why is it so good for us? The reason why nutritionists are getting excited about the Swedish diet is that it places a particular emphasis on vegetables at each meal time. Instead of adding veggies to meals, each meal is planned around the greens.
The Swedish diet also encourages eating seasonal produce, which means that you'll be taking in fewer additives and only eating what's fresh.
One of the best things about the Swedish diet that I love, personally, is that it’s affordable. Two of the most popular vegetables in the Swedish diet are broccoli and cabbage. Both of these are usually affordable.
Canned fish and frozen berries also count in the Swedish diet, making it totally doable – especially if you’ve got a number of mouths to feed.
Let’s break the Swedish diet down for you, then. It primarily consists of winter vegetables, frozen berries, and fish.
It is designed so that you get the majority of your calories from vegetables, before adding in other things like meat and eggs.
So, how does it compare to the Med diet, which has been touted as healthy and desirable in a well-balanced lifestyle for a while now?
While the two diets are similar in nature, promoting the use of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats, the most significant difference is oil.
Olive oil is at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, while canola oil is the foundation of the Swedish diet. Naturally, there are going to be pros and cons of both.
The biggest con of olive oil is that it has more saturated fat. Olive oil, however, has more antioxidants. So, while neither is particularly bad for you, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
I get around this by using both and rotating them. While I'm trying to stick to the Swedish diet now as close as possible, I have carried a few things from the Med diet that I think can stick around.
My favorite olive oil is Terra Delyssa extra virgin olive oil. It’s organic and extremely high quality, making it perfect for salads and cooking. My first pick for canola oil would have to be Napa Valley Naturals organic canola oil, again super high quality. Get the olive oil here and canola oil here.
Let’s look at four golden rules to remember when implementing the Swedish diet into your meal plans:
1. Prioritize Veg
Like I mentioned earlier, vegetables are the main priority in the Swedish diet.
Like me, you're probably used to putting meat and carbs first before vegetables – it's an old habit that dies hard, trust me. It's taken me a lot to get used to putting my veggies first. Don't worry, though – before you know it it will become second nature.
2. Going by Season
These days, if we go to most supermarkets, we have access to a whole range of fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether they’re in season or not.
Apart from the obvious fact that eating in season is fresher, it's also affordable, too. You'll notice that most vegetables that aren't in season are going to be much more expensive because they're harder to source.
Stick to seasonal, and you’ll save on the food bill, too.
3. Understand the Process
One thing I love particularly about the Swedish diet is how it cuts out processed foods. This food category is another one we live with in modern society, that only serves to make us feel and look unhealthy.
The Swedish diet focuses on eating foods as unrefined as possible before they've been processed and turned into other products completely. Try doing this where and when possible.
4. Learn to Love Fermented
Scandinavia is well known for its love of fermenting. In the Swedish diet, there is an abundance of this. Fermenting is excellent for your gut. The Swedes have got it down – from fermented fish to pickled vegetables there's nothing they can't preserve through the art of fermenting.
One of my favorite fermented foods is sauerkraut. I’ve already written a post on the benefits of sauerkraut which you can read here.
So, is today the day you ditch the diet book and try the Swedish diet? If you’re anything like me, it’ll take a while to get used to some of the grittier bits – but trust me, once you’re used to it, you’ll start to feel light and full of energy you didn’t know you had.
Not to mention that it’s easy on the purse strings, too. I honestly can’t decide what my favorite part of the Swedish diet is.
Let me know what you love most about the Swedish diet!