It seems that every year, there is a new diet craze that disappears as quickly as it surfaces. Human nature is to blame; we’re constantly on the lookout for modern medicine or nutrition to come up with a silver bullet solution for our dietary problems.
Yet while some of these diets are actually harmful and irresponsible in what they espouse (grapefruit diet, anyone?), others are actually based on solid nutritional principles. These tend to be the ones that survive longest, but also the ones that receive the least hype.
This is partially because they have more than one underlying principle (i.e. “no carbohydrates and all of your fitness dreams will come true”), but also because they require active participation. The Nordic diet, a recently coined term, seems to be on the verge of becoming one of these under-hyped effective plans.
What is the Nordic Diet?
The Nordic diet is the collaborative project of a world-renowned, Michelin starred chef and an obesity researcher. It is also the brainchild of approximately $20 million in research. A study pitting the dietary plan against a control group showed that the average participant lost approximately seven pounds in a twelve week period, an astounding result by all calculations. It has been given the namesake “Nordic” because most of the foods it recommends and allows are staples of cold-climate cooking.
What Do You Eat?
The diet suggests various groups ranging from the purely protein to the decidedly carbohydrate-laden. Fish, vegetables, nuts, legumes, berries, fruit, game meats, and certain starches are staples of the plan. Similar to the famous Mediterranean diet, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids are featured prominently.
The diet recommends that you find food grown in your area because it will be lower in preservatives and artificial additives. You should home-cook as many meals as possible, and don’t skimp on the side dishes. Proper seasoning is also one of the pillars of the diet.
Why Does it Work?
Believe it or not, there is plenty of science behind both the ingredients and the methods of eating in the Nordic diet. Fish and game meats tend to be significantly lower in saturated fat than beef or pork. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Nuts and legumes are great sources of fiber, protein, and minerals.
Omega-3’s are plentiful in fatty fish (especially coldwater fatty fish) and game animals because they eat grass their whole lives rather than artificial grain feed.
Preparing meals in your home turns eating from an inconvenience (“I have to swing by McDonald’s to save some time”) to an experience where you are more apt to make deliberately healthy choices. It also lets you savor your food, helping you realize you are full before you overstuff yourself. Side dishes, such as vegetables and legumes, are great ways to make sure that you don’t overindulge in your main entrée or unhealthy deserts.
As for seasoning your food creatively, it is probably the best way to avoid getting tired of eating the same nutritious items every week. Yogurt, balsamic vinegar, and even some light sugar can be used to tremendous effect.