Traditional Nordic Diet
This week we are doing something a bit different for NewYear’s.We are not actually cooking a recipe.However, I will be talking to you about the Viking diet.Nutritional advice is often laid out in simple diagrams so that people understand it.
It is what is often called the “Mediterranean diet”, and it is what the Canadian government, as well as the US government and a number of other governments around the world, have as the bedrock for their nutritional advice.
You will see there are a lot of carbohydrates on the bottom level.Then you have fruits and vegetables; up to meat; and, then, the extras, like oils and sugars, etc.There are other pyramids, as well. This pyramid that is up here now is the “Okinawan diet”.This is is a modification.It is just another food pyramid.
You will notice that the proportions are different.In small letters on the right, the side you will notice at the bottom that they suggest these things to be eaten daily, whereas the things at the very top of the pyramid they are optional or only eaten weekly.This is an elaboration on the Mediterranean diet that some nutritionists feel more healthy.Then there are our “fad diets” – some, in fact, may be familiar to you.This food pyramid is the “Paleo diet”.
There are a number of items that are forbidden.(Those are along the bottom)Those are things that are high in carbohydrates or sugars or arose in the diets of humanity after the Neolithic Revolution.One thing about all of these diets – that they have in common is that nutritionists really focus on the proportions of different kinds of foods that you consume.
Everyone recognizes that people gain weight because of having to many calories and not enough exercise.However, there is a lot of other health components that go into the ease of following calorie rules.Such as your own metabolism.
One of the theories here is that if you pick a population that is extremely healthy – like the Mediterranean population or the Okinawan population – their diet can be used as a model.Another theory is to pick a healthy population in the past, historically.That is where you have the Paleo diet.The concept is: if you if your body matches the food style, then you are eating optimally.
Now, this is actually – – All those diets, whether it be the Mediterranean in Okinawan or the Paleo diet; they all have the same basis, this logic.It is the logic that ancestral foodways are best.Anthropologists and nutritionists have studied various different peoples around the world or done research on historical eating habits.
What they found is that foodways of ancient peoples and a lot of ethnographic populations are optimal for those populations.Here is a book.It is an excellent one It is from the 1970s.It sort of launched this concept.Originally, there had been a bit of good research already done on the Mediterranean diet, but the anthropologist started to explore different types of diets from people around the world
.Oh! Incidentally, all the books I am going to be mentioned will be in the description for this video.You can purchase them through the link provided there.If you do, some of the proceeds will go to this channel and help support it.
There is also a professor from Ottawa who recently wrote this book: “What our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today”.He focused on Vietnam because that is where his ancestors were from.The concept is that you think of where your ancestors were from, or parts of your ancestry, and then you pick the most basic cuisine and healthiest historic foodway of that region.
This type of eating is actually a way to “decolonize” yourself from industrialization and industrialized food. This could be for anyone.This book here expresses the concept very specifically for First Nations people; in this case Mexico. The act of changing your diet to an ancestral diet is actually a rejection of being colonized.
Peoples around the world have all been colonized differently.Even European populations have been colonized. They have been colonized in the past – religiously – they have been colonized by power structures and class systems.
One of the ways to get around the problems of industrial food, etc.is to ‘decolonize your diet’. For myself, I do does not have any First Nations ancestry. However, my mother is from Denmark, and my father’s people are mainly from the United Kingdom. So I look to the Nordicfood ways and the food ways of the Germanic peoples when I want to’ decolonize my diet’ (so to speak).
This book is an excellent one. It has folkloric recipes from around the Nordic region; by Magnus Nilsson. Magnus Nilsson is also a leader in the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’, which is extremely popular right now in haute cuisine.It is essentially saying Scandinavian food isis hip and popular.This book that he has got looks to traditional recipes; because his food, and the new the Scandinavian cuisine, is actually really, really grounded in locality and culture and tradition of the place.
This concept of Scandinavian food being healthy has been elaborated upon by a number of different chefs. However, there is actually really good science behind these assertions. That is where the book “The Nordic Way” comes in. It is extremely interesting because it provides the scientific basis upon which we can say that the Nordic way of eating is an extremely healthy way of eating.
Part of the science of the ‘Nordic Way’ diet is what is called a ‘glycemic index’. This also underlines the “Low GI diet” because, obviously, “GI” stands glycemic Index. This is pretty standard nutritional advice now in the West.
What the Glycemic Index is, is a measurement of how fast the carbohydrates in foods are converted into glucose in the body. It provides an index number for each food that represents the amount the blood sugar level is raised two hours after eating. The index compares to dextrose (which is a hundred), and every other food item has a glycemic index score.
There are a lot of factors that can go into a glycemic index number.Metabolisms, obviously. The amount of fibre that is in the food.Other factors, as well, such as how acidic or basic the food is – those types of things. But what the basic idea is, is that the lower the Glycemic Index score, is the longer you will feel full – the more satiated you will be from the food; and, therefore, less hungry; less likely to over consume calories.
The Nordic Way diet is underpinned by this study here that I have up on the slide. It is called – – I think it is called the “Die-Oh-Genes” study, but it could be the “Die-Aw-Jones” study. I am not sure how it is pronounced.I have only ever read it. This study was massive.
It was a massive nutritional stud. What it did was, it compared the carbohydrates versus protein in different diets and the ratio of those two types of things.
In the study, you had a sample of 938 overweight adults, as well as the 827 children in those families. They tested five different ratios of carbohydrate to protein. It even covered nine different countries; there are a lot of different cuisines used.
However, they used just the same ratio of carbohydrates to proteins.What they found in the study was that the very best ratio of carbohydrates to protein was having a high protein diet and having low amounts of low GI carbohydrates. This proportion helped people slim down. The average person, over the period of the study (which I think was 18 months),lost around 20 pounds.
They also kept the weight off. This group – of the high amounts of protein and lower amounts of carbohydrates and making sure the carbohydrates were low GI – had the least number of people give up on a diet. The Nordic Way plate – – Essentially, for each meal, it is recommended, in this nutritional model, that about half of the calories come from vegetables, berries and fruits.
Not half of the calories! Half of the weight of the meal is vegetables, berries and fruits. About 25% of the weight of the meal carbohydrate, with a low GI. And, about 25% of the meal are foods rich in protein.This is essentially the way that Nordic cuisine is organized than when it is ideally constructed. This is roughly what a meal looks like.
It matches the best ratio from the Diogenes study. We have roughly twice as many carbohydrates in grams versus protein in the diet overall.“Herds know the hour of their going home and turned them again from the grass, but never is found a foolish man who knows the measure of his maw.”
“A greedy man, if he is not mindful, eats to his own life short: oft the belly of the fool will bring him to scorn when he seeks the circle of the wise.” Those two stanzas were from the “Havamal” which was written around the 1300s in Iceland.
They were supposed to express the wisdom of Lord Odin and to talk about what it was like to live in the Viking Age. I have also done a lot of reading about the Viking Age and imagined what life was like then. I have specifically read on food ways, cuisines, and the ways that people related to food in Scandinavia, but also other Germanic territories, such as Anglo-Saxon England and on the Continent, as well.
I am going to provide a few extensions to the modern advice of the Nordic Way diet to talk about this ancient diet. We could term this perhaps “The Viking Diet”. Now for the Viking Diet — There were roughly two large meals a day, it seems.
Today, of course, we have three large meals a day. There were, of course, small snacks in between the meals. There was whole grain that was eaten. Certain classes of society would have had more access to refined grains, but generally-speaking people ate barley, rye, oats and older forms of wheat.
Not the modern varieties of wheat; and that is very important.We have the phrase
“an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
The concept and idea that certain types of vegetable foods were health-giving were common. Apples and other tree fruit were seen as being beneficial. We have lots of fish in the Viking Diet. In particular, coldwater fish; fish with high-fat content. We have in the myths salmon mentioned quite often, and at archaeological digs, herring was a very important foodstuff.
Berries were also important. We have a wide number of-of berries that could be eaten and, of course, these are very healthy. They are extremely full of antioxidants, as we know today. Then we have the category of foods that are almost magical in their life-giving force and properties.Those are the ‘ukaz’.
This is the Proto-Germanic word for a family of foods that were added to many many different types of dishes. Today a lot of European cuisines is based on first taking an onion or a member of this family and frying it in some fat in order to add flavour to a meal. Raw honey was the basically the only sweetener that could be added to foods.
They had access to sprouting grains and making malt, etc. But that was not usually concentrated. Honey was the sweetest flavour. They would have had raw honey, not pasteurized honey. Then there is also the concept of a”living: food or drink. When I speak of “living” what I mean is fermented.
At the time fermentation was seen as a spontaneous process – – It is almost like the thing could boil itself. These were very magical and mystical.
As we know, today these living foods are full of probiotics and are extremely good for you. This isn’t exactly related to the food itself, but “hygge” – – which is essentially the concept of cosiness and feeling good – – This is something to strive for in how you are eating.
Of course, on feast days you have to throw all the rules out the window! Because feast days are not days for moderation. For the rest of the days and regular diet days – – are for moderation. However, on feast days you throw that all out the window. Now for things that are scornful.These are things to try to avoid.
One is eating food after your last meal of the of the day. This could be a separate later dessert course it could be snacking throughout the evening before bedtime. You should not let yourself get ravenous before a meal. Otherwise, you will overfill yourself and not be able to eat slow enough.
That means having smaller, healthier snacks between meals.When you eat you should not eat until you have a – – sort of the sense of – – “food coma”. One should be-be able to be moderately active after a meal. Only on feast days should you feeling like you may have a “food coma”?
(This was also identified in other parts of the Havamal: You have to be ready for action at all times and points in your life.) Modern grains are not as good for you as ancient grains. This is because they have been bred not for flavour and not for nutrition (for the most part), but they have been bred so that they can fit into the industrial food system.By going back to the older styles of grains, which are foundational for our diets, we can get to healthier foodstuffs.
things were fried in the Viking Age, but they were shallow-fried, not deep-fried. It was extremely hard to get that much fat in order to do deep-frying, and it was an extremely expensive way of cooking when you consider other types of cooking methods. There were no caffeinated beverages during the Viking Age that were known to be drunk in those regions.
I mentioned fruit earlier. Juice was used during the Viking Age.It was usually fermented into a beverage. However, plain juice that is unfermented was very uncommon. Usually, it was the entire fruit that was eaten.
Juice is a way of easily increasing the number of calories and telling yourself that you are getting a vegetable serving, when in fact you are getting almost no fiber with that serving. It just does not fill you up, and it adds calories. Scornful is store-bought alcohol. When alcohol was used during the Viking Age – – something that was very common was that ales would be specifically brewed for specific events or time periods.
So when it was produced, alcohol was not a commodity, it was integrated into the food system of the people. In order to do that today what you need to do is not go buy store-bought alcohol. This also allows you to consume unpasteurized alcohol and alcohol that still has living bacteria and yeasts in it.
Something that surprises a lot of people is that during the Viking Age drunkenness was looking down upon. It was, of course, something that happened, just as it happens today. However, to lose your wits to alcohol was not considered to be a good thing.
We know now today that it is not healthy either. Refined sugar. is something that is almost every processed food that we have nowadays. However, refined sugar was something that did not exist during the Viking Age. It becomes easy to have all homemade food or good food if you just eliminate refined sugar from your diet.
During the Viking Age things that were distilled were not generally part of the diet. There was, of course, salt that was sometimes produced through distillation. Hard alcohol though was not commonly distilled.That was a little bit later in the early Middle Ages when that became popular.
There were no other distilled foodstuffs, such as rose waters or other types of chemicals, that were added to food. Nowadays all of the items that are called chemical additives – monosodium glutamate, lots of different chemical additives – these things could be considered to be “distilled” or refined through that type of process.
If you eliminate those types of items from your diet, as well; to go back to the type of food that would be eaten during the Viking Age, you eliminate a lot of unhealthy foods. In my 30s I followed “The Viking Diet” and did a bit of exercise. I was able to lose 45pounds. I was feeling great.
However, fast-forward 10 years. I have much more stress in my life. I help run a campground. I run running Pagan events and Heathen events.I also have my job with the federal government on top of that. Around two years ago I started to get sick with a strange sort of immune-related disorders.
It affected my mood. It also affected my ability to do exercise.I essentially have not done any exercise in the last year and a half.In order to get healthy, I am going to have to focus on my diet.I am going to be using the Nordic Way and the Viking Way of doing that.So here we are.
This is me. It is December 30th. I have had zero NordicWay days, that is officially on record. I weigh around 251 pounds that puts meat ‘overweight’, close to the obese category of a BMI; a Body mass index of 32 points 3.
My blood pressure is 123 over 87 which is “pre-hypertension”. What I would like to do is to try to get healthier, so that I can try to feel better, and see if I can kick some of these problems that I seem to be having.I hope that some of you, during the new year, will be making changes in your life to become healthier.
Maybe you will join me on “The Viking Diet”? So, folks. Those are a few notes on historical eating and its relationship to nutritional advice, also to the Nordic way of eating, according to modern research, as well as my interpretation and notes on the “Viking Diet”.
It is also my commitment to start an attempt to use the Nordic Way of eating more often and do more Viking diet days, in order to get healthy