"Healthy eating" is unanimous.
Recent findings on the Nordic Diet prove what we pretty much already knew about healthy eating—and longevity.
Welcome to Forkful, a weekly nutrition newsletter encouraging you to break up with dieting—and pick up a fork. Subscribe for regular updates with exclusive recipes, interviews, Q&A’s, product recommendations, and much more!
This week, I came across a recently published study from Clinical Nutrition regarding the Nordic Diet—a style of eating common in Northern Europe. Skeptical of any diet that is getting buzz, I decided to look more into it, and I was a bit surprised to learn that this diet is extremely similar to the Mediterranean Diet (common in the Blue Zones, aka the healthiest places in the world). The Nordic Diet—followed by people in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway—includes fatty fish, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. (One of our writers did an excellent deep dive on the study if you want to learn more).
It’s the list of foods that had me chuckling like a madwoman at my computer. It’s pretty much the same exact list that pops up again...and again...and again. Full of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, the Nordic Diet is just another eating plan that essentially follows the recommended dietary guidelines from pretty much every institution you can think of. The American Heart Association. The American Diabetes Association. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The American Cancer Society. The World Health Organization. The Food and Agriculture Organization. They all recommended the same style of eating.
The “Nordic Diet” and “Mediterranean Diet” are just cute ways to market a style of eating to others, even though they are incredibly similar. Their guidelines all say the same thing:
Choose whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and oils, and small amounts of dairy
Reduce foods linked to increased disease risk like added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, and items high in sodium.
Reduce is the key word here. It doesn’t say restrict or avoid (although trans fats are rarely in foods anymore. It says to reduce the amount you consume in order to lower your risk of developing certain conditions and chronic diseases like high cholesterol or blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.
Eating plans such as these encourage the consumption of a variety of foods—which makes the gut happy. Studies show that eating up to 30 different types of plants throughout the week ensures a diverse and thriving gut microbiome, which is linked to decreased risk of diseases and is important for longevity.
So if this type of eating method is proven superior for overall health and longevity, why is “eating healthy” so hard for people?
Did you guess it? Diet culture!
Any type of diet encouraging massive restriction of certain foods (even healthy ones, like whole grains or legumes) is meant to be a quick fix to encourage speedy weight loss. They advertise fast results so people will purchase their products and plans. They may even work for some—but not long-term. But because it worked “that one time,” people are confused by what is truly good to eat and what is not, causing food anxiety and eating disorders. Crying over pasta sauce in the grocery store shouldn’t be a part of normal life, and yet, that was my reality...
When you take away the toxicity of diet culture and actually look at food in terms of health and longevity, things start to make sense. It’s easy to reach for the foods that you know give long-lasting energy. Foods that make you feel good inside and out.
And this style of eating—“Nordic Diet” or whatever else you want to call it—proves to be one that promotes long, healthy life.
I need to finish this off with a caveat. While this is a recommended way of eating for the general population, every single body is different. If you are working with your doctor on a certain way of eating to help with a disease (like how low-carb diets can help with diabetes and blood sugar management, etc.) then that is obviously what you need to do for your health!
But in a general sense, this style of eating is continually recommended for health and longevity—no matter what cute little label you want to put on it.
PREVIEW: Speaking of trending diets, have you heard about the Alkaline diet? It’s a hoax—and we’re going to really dive into it next week with Abby Langer, RD in a Q&A. Upgrade your subscription now so you don’t miss out on this juicy interview!
Do you have a dinner recipe you pretty much turn to when you don’t know what else to make? For me (and pretty much my entire family), it’s meatballs. My grandmother usually lets hers simmer in her homemade sauce for hours, but I don’t have that kind of patience. So I fry them mine up in a skillet instead.
In just under 30 minutes, you’ll have dinner on the table. Pick your favorite jar of marinara sauce, and serve it on a bed of spaghetti or zoodles. Or just serve it with crusty Italian bread and a crunchy green side salad—it’s what my family always does. And don’t forget the freshly grated Parmesan!
Skillet Italian Meatballs
Makes 4 servings
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 small onion, diced small (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Garlic salt, for sprinkling on top
1 tbsp olive oil
1 24-28 oz. jar of marinara sauce
I’ve been slowly getting back into my blogging groove. I was so excited to officially launch this newsletter that I let my site fall by the wayside. It certainly has seen some ebbs and flows over the years, but lately, I’ve been getting some traction from new readers (thanks, Pinterest!) So I’m going to start sharing some recent posts here so you don’t miss out on the phone.
This week’s musing was about the accumulation of stuff—and how I’m ready to move on.
Where I went: Jacob’s Pickles in the Upper West Side
What I ate: Homemade Tangerine Jam by Meike Peters
What I watched: Emma on Prime Video
What I’m reading: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
What I’m listening to: Acoustic Memories on Apple Music
I have exciting news to share: You can now read Forkful in the new Substack app for iPhone.
With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my Substack and any others you subscribe to. New posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut-off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s a big upgrade to the reading experience.
The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.