Focus On: The New Nordic Diet

When I first heard of the Nordic Diet, I couldn’t help but think of the Maelstrom ride in Norway at Epcot. It has trolls and scares the life out of me. But that doesn’t say much because we all know I’m a huge chicken. 

Never been on it? Here ya go:

Random side note: does anyone else love to YouTube amusement park rides? It confirmed that I will never, ever go on the Jurassic Park ride.. and also made me even more excited to go on Harry Potter. Moving along…

About a year ago, I read a blip in US Weekly (substance reading, my friends) about how Nordic cuisine (flavors and eating strategies from native Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark) was becoming a trendy staple in LA restaurants. Appetizers featuring thinly-sliced beets, yogurt sauce, cucumber and fresh salmon, desserts of fresh berries, and an emphasis on vinegars and honey. Immediately I was intrigued, as these are all foods that I love. I went to Barnes and Noble to see what it was all about.

It actually inspired my favorite Carrot, Bean, Beet burgers:


The staples of the Nordic Diet:

 -Fruits and berries (particularly local berries, such as cloudberries, cowberries and blueberries)

NewImage (source)

-Local fish (salmon, herring, cod)



-Leafy greens (especially kale and cabbage)

-Raw, seasonal veggies

-Game meat (elk and lamb)

-Nordic grains (oats, barley, rye)


Meal and flavoring strategies:

-Instead of focusing on fat to add flavor, sweetness and natural taste of the food is emphasized. Instead of using a large drizzle of olive oil, you’ll use a larger amount of vinegar and a small amount of oil. Honey, yogurt and citrus are also commonly used to flavor foods, along with herbs.

-Add condiments on the side, but not the kind we’re more familiar with (ketchup, mustard, mayo, HOT SAUCE). Thinly sliced beets, gherkins and rhubarb are interesting complements that be served along with the meal.

-Have small plates of different dishes, to create variety and prevent palate boredom. Instead of one large plate with a hefty serving of the main course, try to have little bits of different (mostly veggie) dishes. Moderation is key, but the emphasis is on bold, fresh flavors. 

-Cooking the food at home. Half of the enjoyment of a meal is the act of preparing it, and taking 30 minutes to an hour to prepare the food can help make it part of your lifestyle. This can lead to a healthier attitude towards food, instead of the “grab and go” mentality. 

While it’s just now gaining popularity in the United States, this style of eating has obviously been a way of life in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark for hundreds of years. Another concept that’s newer to us and ancient to them? The importance of locally-sourced products, sustainable fishing and farming habits. The principles of ethics, simplicity and sustainability are deeply ingrained in their culture. According to the author, there is historical evidence that our species thrived on the food that was locally available to them and in season, instead of packaged, processed food that was shipped to the grocery store. It’s just a matter of being creative with what you have access to in your region.

According to fairly recent studies, as far as health benefits go, the Nordic diet can be a fantastic alternative to the Mediterranean diet. Participants in the 26-week study either focused on Nordic staples, or portion-controlled plans of so-called standard foods (like spaghetti), and the Nordic diet participants lost twice as much weight.

Some Nordic Diet-friendly recipes:

Broiled salmon with citrus yogurt sauce

8 Nordic recipes (the fish cakes and spring salad sound amazing)

Beet and apple salad

Any faves to add? 

Have you heard of the Nordic diet? Is this something you’d be interested in? I think the principles behind it are fantastic, and can definitely recommend the book to anyone who is looking to clean up their eats.

Speaking of clean eats, don’t forget to check in and leave a comment with your workout (steady state today!) and eats. Lots of water, fruits and veggies 🙂



Have a great day!


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  1. Talia @ Bite Size Wellness on June 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Very intriguing. I like the tapas concept and the different ideas of condiments!
    Heading to yoga for my workout today!

  2. Mo on June 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    So I am married to a fellow of Norwegian decent – and not only does he tease me about my Irish red hair coming from Viking heritage (they came down to Ireland to pillage and plunder, while the Irishmen were at the pub, and had their way with the ladies . . . ) but he always makes fun of bland Irish food. I always remind him of lutefisk and lefse and he pretty much clams up at that point! Don’t think I’m going to let him know his cuisine is trendy! Take care my friend.


  3. Jenn on June 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    checkin in! woohoooo gina girl you killed me today! i switched my steady state days with the workout days due to a marathon training schedule i’m on, and workout 2 was a toughie today! i consider myself in great shape and after 2 rounds i was seriously huffing and puffing….and sweating!! followed by my HIIT which i tried on those ski machine things?! i dont know if you’ve seen them but I wanted to try something new…my hips and tush and quads are burnin tonight! can’t wait to burn the abs too 😉 thanks for so many great workouts!!!

    p.s. i recognize there is an obscene amount of exclamation points in this post, and for that i’m only slightly embarrassed.
    p.p.s. i have a group interview at lulu next week…i’m super stoked! but also nervous..any tips?

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      yayyyy i’m so glad you had an awesome workout! great job!
      don’t be nervous! be ready to talk about your goals (big and small: health, personal and career), why you want to work at lulu. just be genuine and passionate 🙂 good luck- you’ll rock it

  4. Rachel C on June 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Check in time!!!

    I did an super intense HIIT treadmill on the treadmill. It was a combination of incline, sprints and speed walking. I got 2.5 miles in 3 minutes. I hope to be up to 3 miles in 30 minutes by the end of Summer Shape-Up.

    • Rachel C on June 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      I just finished the Ab Burner workout for the first time. WOW!! That’s intense.

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      AWESOME job! you’ll do it 🙂

  5. AJ on June 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I’m just starting shape-up today (the past 2 weeks have been crazy with moving, new job, etc) and it feels great to get back into the groove! Looking forward to Workout 1 and HIIT tomorrow!

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      whoo hoo! let me know how it goes!

  6. Mary on June 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    All I have to say is diamond tricep pushups…owwwww. I must NEVER work certain muscles in my arms because I am so sore from those yesterday!!

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      those kill me too!

  7. Mallory @ Teach Run Repeat on June 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Left the house at 10am for a run (I live in Pittsburgh and have a 500 acre park 5 blocks from my house in the city limits!) and it was brutally hot…already…at 10am! But I made it 3.5 miles and sweat out half of my body weight 🙂

    Also, I’m having a hard time finding the ab burner? I didn’t ‘save’ it anywhere and I can’t seem to easily locate it anywhere on here… helpzzz!

  8. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on June 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I had no idea that the Nordic way of eating was being marketed as a diet. I’ll have to talk to my sister’s boyfriend (who is from Norway) about this!

  9. Jenny on June 19, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    That sure sounds interesting but I don’t have that much time to cook. I prep things on the weekend and throw meals together in about 10-15 minutes on nights the hus and I both work. I had to change up the workout order this week due to time, but had an awesome HIIT workout this am on the bike! Off to bed and the bedtime ab burn!

  10. Kate @katemovingforward on June 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Whoo! Just finished a 5k for my steady state cardio! It’s hot out there y’all! Tomorrow along with yoga I’m going to focus on cleaning up my eats. I’m definitely on board with all the berries in the Nordic diet but I don’t like vinegar so I’m not sure if I could really embrace it for an length of time.

  11. Caitlin on June 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Checkin’ in….got in 3.2 miles on the treadmill, but it was rough. Anyone else find running on a treadmill a million times harder than running outside! It’s a mental thing I think, but all I can think about is how bad I want the time to pass! I don’t want to feel that way about my workouts. Gina, what do you do for cardio usually on days you’re not zumba-ing? 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      right now, i’m on a jump rope kick. i’ll do jump rope intervals for 20 minutes and call it good. otherwise, i’ll do some sprints of the dreadmill

  12. Angela on June 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Checking in– I did 30 mins on the stairstepper, then ~20 mins swimmin’
    Holy cow was I S.O.R.E. from yesterday! Legs AND arms. especially arms–those push-ups and planks must have gotten some places I’m not used to exercising :p Nice to feel like it’s doing something though–it seems like when I’m in a fitness rut, doing the same exercises all the time, I don’t have any soreness. I accept soreness as part of the muscle-building process! 😀

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      amen to that!

  13. Siobhan on June 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I have to switch the calendar around for summer shape up due to training/work sched. Today I’m doing the suggested exercise for tomorrow; rest. After yesterday, I need it- my ‘biscuits are burnin’ still. I think some yoga and rest=perfect solution today. Doing ok on the healthy eating- although I had way too many low quality carbs today. So I went to the store to stock up on veggies and fruit, tomorrow I’ll have no excuse to not have lots of them… I’m not sure what to think of the Nordic diet. I would like to try a cloudberry though. I haven’t even heard of those before.

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      i hadn’t either- i want to try one!
      glad you have some fiery biscuits 😉

      • Steffany on June 21, 2012 at 9:39 am

        I have want to try cloudberries since reading the Millennium Trilogy and reading about cloudberry jam ! I can’t find it ANYWHERE THOUGH. I know Ikea has it, but there are no Ikeas near me. D:

  14. Natalie (willrunforveggies) on June 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Very interesting post about the Nordic diet! It’s funny that Americans have to turn to so many other cultures to figure out what to eat. Though I like the idea of small plates and locally-sourced food, I think nearly any diet that focuses on smaller portions, whole food and cooking at home is bound to be healthier than the typical American diet.

  15. Chelsea on June 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Checking in! 30 mins steady state jogging on the treadmill–followed by 15 mins on the elliptical.

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      whoo hoo!

  16. Melodie on June 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    just did my cardio – 3.6mile run in 38minutes. no, i’m no speed demon but since i wanted to walk after mile 1 then i’m calling this run a success. everytime my foot hit the pavement, i could feel it in my booty thanks to all the lunges yesterday. 😉

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      my booty is killing me from those, too!

  17. Brenda on June 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Just a note- neither of the studies you referenced compared participants eating a Nordic diet vs. a Mediterranean diet….. so you cannot make that claim. Very interesting though. I am a PhD student studying Nutritional Biochemistry right now, and tend to still be very biased toward Paleo. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      you’re right. sorry about that

  18. Sarah on June 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Just finished circuit and HIIT! It kicked my bootay!!

  19. Mary e on June 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Checking in! Did turbo jam through the intense jumpy part in the middle, which was right at 30 minutes. I know that’s kind of interval-esque, but it felt good! In other news, I am 90% sure I have a stress fracture on my tibia. Might have to tone it down. Ugh! Just when I start feeling so much stronger!

  20. Maria on June 20, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Summer Shape Up Check In!

    15 minute run / 1.5 miles
    10 minute stepmill / .85 miles
    10 rolling hill walk / .60 miles

    done, done, done 🙂

  21. Linda on June 20, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Hello from Sweden! I’ve been reading your blog for over a year but never commented. I thought this was a good time to break the silence since I’m Swedish and all 🙂 Never heard of the Nordic Diet until now. The last few 10 years or so, Nordic cuisine has become very good. The focus is on fresh, good, high-quality, local, organic and sound. Consumers have become so aware that we are almost expecting these attributes by default when we go to a restaurant. I want to add one thing to the ‘diet’ – more every day moving of the body. We don’t use cars to the same extent as Americans. Living a normal life in Sweden means you will probably have to walk or take a bicycle every day. I always cycle or walk to work for instance, because there are dedicated lanes. In the winter I take the metro but I still have to walk to the metro station which is like a 10 minute walk (that’s 20 min of extra walking every day). America is lovely, but very dependent on the car. Let’s not forget that aspect of any diet 🙂 Thanks for a very uplifting blog Gina! It’s a ray of sunlight to me.

  22. Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! on June 20, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I just got back from 5 months of living in Sweden (for study abroad) – and I really loved the way they eat there! Granted there was a little more meat and dairy than I typically like, I thought their methods of serving and size of portions was fantastic. I also noticed that they’re *big* on digestives and fiber – lots of cultured dairy, mostly dark bread and whole grains, etc.
    Oh, and the fish (especially salmon) in Scandinavia is like nothing you’ve ever tasted.

  23. Daniela on June 20, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Longtime lurker here…interesting post on the Nordic Diet, I had heard about it but didn’t know much detail. I just had to have surgery so my summer shape-up is a little derailed :/ but your post about the rides made me think of when I was stupid enough to go on the Jurassic Park ride. I was about 13 and I went on with my younger brother and ended up crying and freaking out! I’m glad I’m not the only chicken!

  24. Madison (Pointy Toe Shoe Crew) on June 20, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Phew…cardio day for sure! Biked to work & back, biked to dragonboat practice and paddled for an hour, went for a 30 min bike ride after that…I think I got my steady state covered a few times! Had some delicious clean eats today, although my crepes were not as pretty as yours, haha.

  25. Abby F on June 20, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I had to switch the steady state with workout 2/ ab burner, so I did workout 2/ab burner today and it was so awesome…in a terribly hard kind of way! I also found an awesome solution to craving sweets- 1 light vanilla yogurt, sliced strawberries and chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate). YUM!

  26. Julia on June 20, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Hey Gina!
    I was very interested to read about the nordic diet becoming a “cool thing” in the USA. I live in Finland and I think it is so great to hear that people elsewhere enjoy nordic food because it truly is healthy and tasty! Even though some of the best dishes can seem quite weird at first (fish baked into a rye bread, cabbage bake, lingonberry infused milk etc.) The nordic diet really is healthy: berries, game meat and nordic grains are used daily. I also find it really cool that hear in Finland all children from daycare to the oldest high school students get free school lunches! The lunches are wonderful, wholesome and healthy and they can eat as much as they want. I think it is a really good system. 🙂
    ps. I love your blog, you are so inspiring, keep up the great work!xx

  27. Amy on June 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Checking in after the first HIIT workout this week (had to switch around the workouts some). Loved the circuit and the AB Burner. I’m definitely feeling it in my booty and obliques! Steady state workout will be today. Eats are going great. 2 eggs and blueberries/strawberries with coffee this morning.

  28. Ana on June 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

    completed my 45 minute run yesterday…still feeling those split squats in my booty!

  29. Leah O on June 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Checking in for the past couple of days! Workouts done! Every day Im a little nervous that I won’t be able to get my cardio or workout in but I’ve managed to do it every day in the evening, woohoo!! This weeks workout rocks, I was super sweaty afterwards (and Im still sore from monday….). Loving the bed time ab burner too. During my cardio workouts I rock the Glee cast music station on pandora and one of the songs Im loving right now is “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida, it gets me into a great rhythm.
    I had no idea you could youtube amusement park rides!! Off to check some out now…

  30. Beth on June 20, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Check-in time! I did Workout 2 yesterday and WOW, that was a tough one. Just when I thought the jumping lunges/split lunges might be the end of me, star planks come along. Seriously?! I fought my way through, though and loved how I felt so tough afterwards. For my rest day today, I got up early and spent 20 minutes just stretching and foam rolling. It was such a nice way to wake up!

  31. Angie on June 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Ok so…. I was doing yout summer shape up but just found out Im finally pregnant !! Love this post about the diet… I’m inspired!!!!!

  32. Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) on June 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I am half Swedish and this is all very true. They LOVE their salmon. And pickled fish. And honestly in my family anyway, you are so right: eating at home is the norm. Our family only goes out to restaurants ON BIRTHDAYS! Can you imagine?!

  33. Amber on June 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Here’s a cooking show I watch regularly, it’s set in Scandinavia: Beautiful setting, great recipes.

  34. Jane on June 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I had to take yesterday off, so going to do my workout 2 today! I am probably just missing something, but what is TABATA Thursday?

  35. Marie on June 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you for this post! Its always a pleasure to find out that there is someone who likes Scandinavian dishes. I cant recommend rye bread enough… It is just so good and healthy! Only problem is that this post really made me homesick!

  36. Marine on June 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I completed SSU week 2 so far. The week 1 work out was a good start but this one is a killer! I could only do the circuit twice (but at least, I did it twice!). Love the bedtime ab burner too. I don’t know Tabatha training so I’m very curious to try it!

  37. Jill @ Classy with a Kick on June 21, 2012 at 12:50 am

    OMG…that RIDE is hilarious. We went on it in Feb and were laughing the whole way through. I, too, can’t hear the word “Nordic/Norway” without thinking of it! My favorite part is at the end when they tell you have to watch the 5 minute movie. Hilarious. I am so happy you posted this. My hubby and I were just watching it and laughing! 🙂

  38. Melissa on June 21, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I’ve been living in Sweden for the last 7 months and I’m sure my co-workers will be amused to find out about the Nordic diet. They all think I eat strangely (lots of veggies) as it is. My experience has been that most people do cook at home most of the time. The best part is the support for bringing lunch to work. You can eat with the people that bought food, they provide sparkling water, plates, silverware, sinks and microwaves to make it easy. They eat a lot of meat (ground beef especially) and potatoes and fish. They also eat a ton of candy. There are bulk “godis” stores everywhere even in 7-11.
    I think the biggest difference is in lifestyle. They are so much more active. Most people at work walk or bike to work, and if they don’t they get some type of exercise during the week. We recently had a company wide entrance into a race and some teams had 100% participation in the race. Our company has several different “health motivators” that are supposed to help all of us get healthier. We get a subsidy to help pay for a gym or other “wellness” activities and we get a 1/2 hour massage once a month. We also have desks that move up and down so you can stand or sit at will. They are the standard desk for everyone.

  39. GiGi Eats Celebrities on June 26, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I WILL GLADLY follow this diet. Oh wait, I already do! HA! 🙂 Love! I need to write a diet book asap!

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