Swedish eating habits

Swedish eating habits

Swedes are encouraged from a young age to adopt healthy lifestyles, and with obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases on the rise, even textbooks are designed to raise awareness of good eating habits from an early age. You won’t find a Swede who doesn’t have a picture of the so-called Tallriksmodellen (plate model), which shows the proportions of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein that should go into every balanced lunch or dinner.

The yellow portion of 40% is for carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, bulgur, and baked goods. The green portion 40% is for sources of vitamins, this includes vegetables and fruits. The red part 20% is protein, meat, seafood, fish, eggs, legumes. Maybe that’s why in almost every restaurant during lunch you can ask for a plate of vegetables at the salad bar, add dressing or olive oil, and take white or dark pastry or bread with a kanakebrod crust to the main course . Tap water is available at every table. Everything is already included in the price of lunch.

Companies also take care of their employees’ health. Almost every office provides fruit bowls to employees daily.

Culinary specialties

Traditional Swedish cuisine is not rich in variety. It consists mainly of meat and potatoes. Holidays such as Christmas, Easter or the summer solstice are based on the so-called Smrgsbord, which is what is called a buffet. It is actually a meal where the basis is marinated herring in various brines, meatballs, smoked salmon, and then other ingredients are changed and added depending on the season.

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Cooking Features

At Christmas, perhaps all restaurants offer Julbord (traditional Christmas buffets), which are very popular among Swedes. There is no opportunity to try everything because the tables are filled to capacity. It starts with a cold buffet offering a variety of pates, cheeses, roast beef, pickled herring and sausages. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of gorging yourself right there, because a hot buffet follows. Here you won’t miss the baked ham, fried ribs, lutfisk (dried fish soaked in water and boiled, served with mustard or béchamel sauce and peas), Janssons frestelse (baked potatoes with cream and anchovies). Desserts are served last. You can enjoy the traditional creamy rice pudding “Rice a la Malta”, Pepparcacor gingerbread, iced chocolate, fruit salad with whipped cream or choose from a range of cheeses with fruit jams.

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In addition to the traditional herring, smoked salmon and meatballs, the Easter menu includes boiled asparagus, fresh peeled potatoes, eggs, sour cream with chives and roast lamb.

Midsummer celebrations add strawberries, a seasonal treat, to the regular menu. Strawberry cake with whipped cream is simply irresistible. It’s time to fire up the grill and have a nice piece of meat. Swedish cuisine outside of these holidays is heavily influenced by international gastronomy. Restaurants serving Japanese, Asian, Indian, Pakistani, and Lebanese dishes are very popular. You will also find fish on Swedish menus at least once a week, since Sweden is a country with many lakes and also surrounded by the sea. The dominant fish are salmon and cod and seafood, all of which are of excellent quality because they are locally produced and always fresh from the North Sea or nearby lakes.

Traditional Swedish restaurants are guaranteed to serve yellow pea soup and pancakes with fruit jam and whipped cream every Thursday. This tradition dates back to Sweden’s ancient Catholic past, when a hearty meal was required on Thursdays before the traditional Friday Lenten fast.

Another strange dish, of course, is falukorv (something like rolled salami cut into slices), which Swedes like to pan-fry with pasta and ketchup. Which is more like a quick dinner or lunch for the average family. You won’t find this “delicacy” in restaurants.


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Just pronouncing the name is difficult, let alone eating and digesting this fast food. What is it anyway? A tortilla is a wrapper filled from bottom to top with mashed potatoes and topped with fried sausage, shrimp salad, cucumber mayonnaise, lettuce, ketchup, onions. Definitely a big mess, but so delicious! Guaranteed to make you laugh and shake your head at the combination of ingredients that will satisfy even the strangest cravings. Pregnant women will especially appreciate this wealth of flavors. It’s definitely worth a try, but once in a lifetime is enough, guaranteed to keep you full for hours. If you go to downtown Stockholm on a Friday or Saturday night, this kiosk will have a line several meters long.

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Pytt i Panna

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Pytt i Panna

Otherwise known as “little pieces in a pan” . This is a very popular dish, especially among children. Traditionally it is made of potatoes, onions, any kind of meat or sausage, all cut into small cubes and fried in a pan. It is served with poached eggs, pickled beets, pickled cucumber, ketchup and brown HP sauce. The dish was originally made with leftovers from the previous day, but nowadays, due to its popularity, it is made with fresh ingredients. It’s worth mentioning some of Sweden’s strange customs and especially its love of coffee and sweets.


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It’s part of Swedish culture, which basically means coffee and some kind of sweet treat or sandwich to go with it. What’s so special about it? Fika is considered a social event where friends or families get together to sit and chat over coffee. You could compare it to the English concept of Afternoon Tea. In most companies there is even a special time for fika during work hours when employees gather in the kitchen for coffee and goodies provided by the employer and talk mostly about things unrelated to work, which helps to socialize and get to know their colleagues outside of work. Swedes love to eat sweets along with this drink. Especially pastries such as the famous cinnamon snails (Kanelbullar), cardamom buns (Kardemummabullar), or the traditional Princess cake (Prinsesstrta) – with whipped cream and marzipan.

Lrdagsgodis or eating candy only on Saturdays

Parents try to limit their children’s sugar intake, so for most kids, the only day of the week when they are allowed treats is Saturday. That’s usually a trip to the supermarket, where you’ll find huge racks of dozens of varieties of candy on the scale.

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Lrdagsgodis or eating candy only on Saturdays

The love of sweets is certainly evidenced by the fact that Sweden celebrates what is known as Waffle Day every year, when sweets are consumed everywhere. Fettisdagen is the day between Shrove Monday and Wednesday, a tradition associated with the serving of a “calorie-dense” white flour bun called Semla. It is filled with almond cream and traditionally served with warm milk. There are many other days in Sweden associated with eating sweets, including cinnamon snails and pancakes.

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With all the respect and commitment to a healthy lifestyle, the love of sugar is unfortunately still irresistible to much of the population.

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