Wellness Scandinavian style
Scandi living has definitely had a moment. We all went mad for hygge, rye bread and disturbing Nordic dramas – but unlike most trends, this one isn’t going away. And for our writer Charlotte, living the Scandi life here in London perfectly encapsulates the DOSE way of being, combining hedonism and health…
Sweat it out
It all starts with a morning sauna, and the spa at the Corinthia hotel is home to one of the nicest in London. It’s light wood, amphitheatre-style, and super luxe. The sauna is a key part of Scandinavian culture (that’s Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, although Finish is generally thrown in too): it’s a social activity over there, as well as being excellent at helping you sweat out toxins. It’s so popular, in fact, that in Finland, there’s a sauna per household on average, according to Statisitics Finland. Saunas have huge heart benefits and can help reduce blood pressure, stress levels and risk of hypertension, according to TIME. Kippis (that’s cheers, in Finnish) to that.
Come lunchtime, head to Scandi Kitchen for the best traditional food around. The busy Fitzrovia restaurant is lunch-only, and does a roaring trade. The Scandi diet doesn’t decry carbs; rather, its carbs tend to be low GI, top quality, unprocessed and very good for you. “By and large, the traditional food is healthy. It is based on what is in season and available locally – so a lot of fish, fresh veg (varying seasonally), berries, meat and hardy grains such as rye,” owner Bronte Aurell tells me. Oily fish contains omega 3, which reduces inflammation in the body, and low GI foods keep you satiated and stabilise blood sugars.
“Dill is a classic taste – used in everything from cured salmon to herring, potato salads and prawn sandwiches,” Bronte says. While Scandi Kitchen’s meatballs are know to be excellent, I sample an open-faced herring sandwich, hot smoked salmon, beetroot salad and a few pieces of assorted chocolates from the pick’n’mix. My beloved Daim bar is Scandi, I’m pleased to note.
Tapped from the trees
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of maple syrup… slathered all over pancakes but not as a hydrating agent. Isn’t that what water is for? But did you know that birch water is rich in minerals such as potassium, zinc, and manganese. As a result, the mildly sweet beverage can be considered an electrolyte replacing drink similar to coconut water. So much so, athletes in Russia and the Ukraine supposedly drink it for hydration to improve overall endurance and performance. I find that it goes best with berries churned up in a delicious smoothie:
Carton of TAPPED Birch Water Handful of Strawberries
Handful of Raspberries
Handful of Blueberries
½ a Cup of Fresh Mint
Juice of ½ a Lemon
The great outdoors
When it comes to exercise, Scandinavians favour outdoor pursuits, so next up, I power walk to Marylebone. Walking in the fresh air burns calories, gets blood circulating and offers up a hit of endorphins, plus it’s free, so it’s something we should all be doing regularly. 50 percent of Swedes enjoy regular long walks, according to Culture Trip, and they’re also big into cycling, which encourages me to think about commuting via Boris Bike. If you want to go all out, don’t let cold weather keep you from fresh air activities; Scandis are outside year-round. The reward at the end of the walk is Totally Swedish on Crawford Street. The shop stocks a range of Scandi foods, gifts, and my favourite Scandi treat, salty black liquorice.
Shop ’til you drop
Then, I pop to nearby interiors store Skandium. It’s a treasure trove in minimalism, selling chic furniture in muted colours, geometric crockery and home accessories in clean lines and a pared-back palette. I have a gorgeous set of ceramic bowls from here that I love, and a navy footstool. And after the home comes personal style: you could take yourself for retail therapy at Swedish import fashion fave Acne (13 Dover Street), where a clean palette and fuss-free garments ensure you will look on-trend, but never overdone. If you fancy a spot of online retail therapy, take a look at Aevi Wellness. The holistic beauty and wellness brand is inspired by nature, botanicals and Scandi living.
Be sure to stop for a cup of coffee, and drink it with zero guilt about caffeine intake. Danes are the world’s fourth biggest coffee drinkers, according to The Little Book of Hygge. There’s literally a Swedish word for the tradition of taking coffee break – fika – showing how culturally ingrained it is. And treat yourself to the nationwide accompaniment to a coffee, a cinnamon bun. “Of course we also have treats – the famous cinnamon bun being the poster boy – but it is just that, a treat. It is not all day every day. Keep the meals healthy and you can indulge in a bun every now and then,” Scandi Kitchen’s Bronte tells me. In fact, cinnamon works to keep blood sugars down.
Bronte sums up Scandi culture beautifully. “We are people who choose to live in balance. Dark winters and 24-hour light in the summer. Solid design that is not ostentatious – but everything has a function and a reason for being. Look at Ikea, Volvo and its safety record – and then look at all our designers for furniture and clothes. It all sort of just makes sense in a balanced and useful sort of way. ‘Lagom’ is a good word to describe us,” she says. She goes on, “we’re the not too much, not too little – just right kinda people.”
So there you have it. The best of health and hedonism, in one here-to-stay culture that we’ve utterly adopted.