When it comes to being health-conscious, Stockholm stands out as one of the best cities in the world. Swedes are no strangers to outdoor exercise and the diet — traditionally comprising rye bread, fatty fish, and root vegetables — is considered one the healthiest in existence. And the statistics reflect this: only 10% of the Swedish population counts as obese, with other Scandinavian countries showing similar numbers, the Daily Mail reports. Moreover, Swedes have a balanced attitude towards food, with a strong belief in enjoying everything in moderation without overindulging.
The Nordic diet features simple, wholesome, and high-quality foods often made from scratch. A traditional dinner looks like fish, such as, herring, mackerel, salmon, and trout — all high in omega-3’s — with boiled potatoes and root vegetables. Cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and other native veggies are high in antioxidants and packed with vitamin K, according to research from Oslo University. Breakfast may include nutrient-rich rye bread and butter or a healthy fruit-packed smoothie to provide energy for the day ahead. In fact, Stockholm’s favourite berries — blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberries — contain the same amount of unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids as fish per unit of energy.
Cycling: a way of life
Stockholm takes fitness seriously. The city has a comprehensive city cycling system as well as numerous off-road trails venturing out into the peaceful countryside. An estimated 12% of all journeys in Sweden are done by bike, according to the most recent government figures. Sweden has even recently launched a winter biking project to encourage year-round cycling. The project aims to both help the environment by reducing emissions and improve public health.
Everything in moderation
Although Stockholm is undeniably healthy, the locals still love their sweets. The average Swede ate 23.1 pounds of candy in 2016 — meaning Sweden has the world’s seventh highest candy consumption per capita. You’ll find bulk confectionery bins in almost every grocery and corner shop. But, to counterbalance their love for candy, the Swedes have also adopted a tradition called Lördagsgodis (Saturday candy). Adults and children wait until Saturday to enjoy their candy rather than overindulging throughout the week.
You can learn a lot about health and well-being from living in Stockholm — particularly from the life philosophy of lagom, which essentially means “just the right amount”. When applied to diet, this idea means finding balance and tuning into your hunger and satiation cues. The Swedes don’t eat more than they need, but don’t deprive themselves either. And this is a concept everyone can benefit from.