The Scandi Sense diet is a trendy diet plan that promises — like so many others before it — that it's the gateway to weight loss. Toting simple lifestyle changes, the diet — based on the premise of "common sense" eating — uses portion sizing in your hands to lose weight. That's right: You can put the measuring cups away now.
Like all weight-loss diets, there are both some good parts and others best left on the fad diet chopping block. Because of that, it may not be the most effective diet for weight loss. Regardless, if the Scandi Sense diet inspires you to eat healthier, that's what matters.
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What Is the Scandi Sense Diet?
The Scandi Sense diet was developed by a CEO from Denmark named Suzy Wendel, hence the Scandinavian reference in the name. She lost almost 90 pounds by cleaning up her diet, then went on to write a book about her methods. Unlike others, the Scandi Sense diet works by measuring food in your hands instead of using a scale or measuring cups.
According to the Scandi Sense website, the rules to the diet are as follows:
- Eat three meals a day.
- No snacking between meals.
- You get four handfuls of food and three tablespoons of fat per meal, as well as 10 ounces of dairy per day.
- Use common sense.
What Is a Typical Meal on the Scandi Sense Diet?
Curious as to what a typical meal on the Scandi Sense diet looks like? Here is an example of a standard day:
Breakfast: One handful of spinach, one handful of chopped peppers and onions, one handful of two scrambled eggs, one handful of either a whole wheat tortilla or one handful of berries. In addition, use olive oil to sauté the veggies.
Lunch: Two handfuls of romaine lettuce, one handful of grilled chicken (about 3 ounces), one handful of whole wheat croutons or one handful of grapes. Add an olive oil based dressing for the salad and one ounce of shredded parmesan cheese.
Dinner: Two handfuls of stir fry veggies (broccoli, onions, snow peas, mushrooms), one handful of grilled salmon (three ounces), one handful of brown rice and two tablespoons canola oil. Add a greek yogurt or glass of milk to round out the dairy.
Read more: Pros and Cons of 10 Popular Diets
Does the Scandi Sense Diet Work?
Have you ever heard the phrase "you can cheat your diet"? There is definitely some wiggle room in this diet for veering off course. While it can work, the theory of the diet is what dietitians and nutritions have been stressing for years: Eat whole foods, watch portion sizes and cut back on sugar.
Even though calories are not counted, Wengel estimates that women eat approximately 1,500 calories versus men's 2,000 daily, according to The Scandi Sense Diet book. At this time, there's no research backing this particular diet, proving that it can actually help you lose weight. Every diet plan has its pros and cons, and this one is no different.
The Pros of the Scandi Sense Diet
- It's heavy on the veg: It focuses on whole, healthy foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and dairy. The nod to nutritious foods is definitely apparent.
- It encourages the dieter to pay attention to portion sizes: This is so important when looking to lose weight. It is easy to have portion distortion when you are accustomed to larger portion sizes. Switching to a smaller portion can be hard.
- It allows for indulgences such as alcohol or sugar: Completely taking these types of foods out of the diet is often a recipe for disaster — not necessarily when losing weight, but when trying to maintain.
- It discourages calorie counting: Focusing on exact calories in versus calories out can get overwhelming. This isn't as specific.
- It forces you to meal plan: This is somewhere in between a pro and a con. This diet does not allow you convenience foods, but in all honesty, we're all trying to cut back on processed food anyway.
The Cons of the Scandi Sense Diet
- It does not factor in age, activity level or gender: For some individuals, this will be plenty of food to keep them going, but it can't be applied across the board.
- It's an easy diet to cheat: If you've ever been to a sale where you get an entire bag of goodies for a dollar, you'll squeeze as much into that bag as possible. The same principle applies here, a handful of salami is definitely not going to match the nutrition of a single grilled chicken breast.
- It makes you move around food: If you want a piece of chocolate cake, you have to go without a handful or two of carbs. You're not counting calories, per se, but really you are. The takeaway should be that rather than indulge every single day, every once in a while is fine.
- All fats are not created equal: The diet accounts for three tablespoons of fat each day. Heart healthy fats — like olive oil and avocados — should be encouraged over margarines and butter.
- It is a restrictive diet: At the end of the day, most weight loss diets— regardless of how much they want to make this a "lifestyle change — it is still about restriction. This diet does not allow snacking. A September 2017 study published in Public Health Nutrition in found that those that snacked twice a day decreased their likelihood of developing central obesity. These were not just any snacks, however. They were strictly dairy foods, fruits and vegetables contributing to no more than 15 percent of the daily energy intake.
- It discourages plant proteins: Inside The Scandi Sense Diet book, Wengel writes that plant proteins aren't as good as animal proteins. This is simply not true; protein consumption is critical to a healthy diet, whether it's plant- or animal-based. A July 2017 study published in Obesity Facts found that people who ate more protein each day lost more weight at the end of a six-month period than those who ate less protein.
Who Should Avoid the Scandi Sense Diet?
For most healthy adults, following the Scandi Sense diet is safe. Children should not be encouraged to follow this diet, as snacking is important for growing bodies and helps fill in the nutrient gaps that meals could be missing.
Those with medical conditions — such as diabetes or those with injuries — should definitely consult with their doctor before beginning a regimented weight loss plan. According to the National Institutes of Health, most studies on calorie restricted diets (the Scandi Sense diet qualifies) are done on healthy adults under the age of 60. Those over the age of 60 should use caution when looking at weight loss plans.
- Public Health Nutrition: "Differences in meal patterns and timing with regard to central obesity in the ANIBES"
- The Scandi Sense Diet
- Public Health Nutrition: "Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know?"
- Obesity Facts: "Effect of a High-Protein Diet versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial"