If you like your comfort food but want a slim waistline, the Nordic diet could be the perfect weight-loss plan for you.
Sweden and Denmark may be best known for bringing us Ikea and hygge, but those Nordic countries know a thing or two about staying in trim and eating healthily too.
And now, following a Scandi-inspired diet - one high in fish, poultry, and vegetables, (particularly root vegetables) - has been found to play a role in encouraging weight loss and ensuring a healthy heart.
A 2018 study found that following the Nordic diet reduced the risk of heart attack in adults, and also stroke in men. And in 2013, research at Lund University found that following a healthy Nordic diet helps lower cholesterol.
Meanwhile, various studies have underlined the Nordic diet’s effectiveness when it comes to losing weight.
If you’re keen to give the Nordic diet a go, below you’ll find a five-day meal plan devised by registered nutritionist Angela Dowden, along with more information about what you can eat on the diet, plus why it works.
Why the Nordic diet works
Key foods include seasonal berries, root veg and oily fish - a great omega-3 food - plus high-fibre, slower-releasing carbs, such as whole grains, pulses, sweet and skin-on potatoes, oats, rye and barley. This combo is filling and satisfying, helping you to stay fuller longer and avoid food cravings.
Fermented dairy products like Skyr (similar to 0% fat Greek yogurt) and kefir are an essential part of the diet too, providing waistline-whittling calcium and friendly bacteria for a healthy digestion.
Nordic diet plan guidelines
We’ve provided five days' worth of tasty Nordic diet meal ideas further down this page, but when preparing your meals make sure you follow these simple principles. These guidelines will help to curb the cals, and should result in a loss of 1-2lb a week - that’s up to 8lbs in under a month.
- Fill half your plate with veg, such as carrots, onions, cabbage, garlic, tomatoes, peas, spinach and broccoli. The rest should be slow-release, high-fibre carbs, eg, rye bread, wholewheat pasta, oats and barley, plus some good-quality protein like fish, eggs or lean meat.
- Fish should feature in 2-3 meals a week, including 1-2 portions of an oily variety like salmon or mackerel (canned is just as good).
- Use rapeseed cooking oil – it’s heart-healthy like olive oil.
- Eat as many berries as you like (they make a great low-cal dessert). Choose fresh when in season or frozen year round.
- Help yourself to a portion or two of low-fat dairy – or a small matchbox-sized piece of cheese a day is fine.
Essential healthy cooking kitchen appliances:
- Best grills for healthy ways to cook chicken, fish, veg & more
- Best blenders: whizz up soups and juices
Nordic diet 5-day meal planner
Save our handy 5-day Nordic diet meal plan overview to your phone for reference when you're out shopping or cooking in the kitchen, and keep scrolling for more details of what to eat as part of each meal.
- Breakfast: A bowl of strawberries, blueberries and redcurrants with 150g of Skyr or 0% Greek yogurt and 1tbsp of oats.
- Lunch: 1 can of mackerel on a small slice of wholemeal toast, with cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves.
- Dinner: A handful each of shredded cabbage, onion, broccoli and edamame beans, stir-fried in 2tsp rapeseed oil with 3.5oz (100g) chicken, and a shake of soy sauce. Serve with 3tbsp cooked brown rice.
- Breakfast: 2 poached eggs with steamed spinach on a small slice wholemeal toast.
- Lunch: 10.6oz (300g) of carrot and coriander soup with a slice of rye bread and 1.1oz (30g) reduced-fat soft cheese.
- Dinner: A 4.6oz (130g) baked salmon fillet with 3.5oz (100g) each peas, leeks, onion, courgettes, red peppers roasted in 1tbsp rapeseed oil, and a small baked sweet potato. Bowl of frozen mixed berries for dessert.
- Breakfast: Porridge made with 1.4oz / 40g oats and 240ml reduced fat (semi-skimmed) milk, served with a handful of raspberries and a small drizzle of honey.
- Lunch: 2 small slices of wholemeal bread filled with 2 sliced boiled eggs, spinach leaves and 1tbsp reduced-fat mayo. Follow with a bowl of blackberries.
- Dinner: 5.3oz (150g) white fish oven-baked with 2tbsp of Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. Serve with 4.2oz (120g) of skin-on new potatoes and 1⁄2 a can of ratatouille.
- Breakfast: 5.3oz (150g) of 0% Greek yogurt or Skyr and raspberries, plus a small slice of wholemeal toast with 1tbsp peanut butter.
- Lunch: 2.1oz (60g) roasted onion humous on a slice of rye bread, cherry tomatoes and 1 apple.
- Dinner: Grilled lamb leg steak (4.2oz / 120g cooked weight) served with homemade roasted sweet potato wedges (7.10z / 200g parboiled wedges in 1tbsp oil), peas and 1 large flat mushroom, grilled.
- Breakfast: A large boiled egg, small slice of wholemeal toast with a scrape of butter, plus a handful of blueberries.
- Lunch: Salad made from chopped kale leaves, 1tbsp each of toasted flaked almonds and golden raisins, topped with roasted chopped chicken breast and drizzled with 1tbsp of vinaigrette dressing.
- Dinner: 2.6oz / 75g (dry weight) of wholewheat pasta with tomato pasta sauce, chilli flakes and a can of sardines, with broccoli and peas.
You can have 1-2 of these a day:
- 4.4oz (125g) 0% Greek yogurt with berries
- One banana
- A small handful of unsalted nuts
- Red pepper sticks and 1.1oz (30g) reduced-fat soft cheese on an oatcake
- 2 large Medjool dates
Alternatively, you can have a small (5fl oz / 150ml) glass of red wine three times a week in lieu of a snack.
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