When we think about diets of our medieval predecessors, we often conjure-up menus of roasted pig and turkey legs, hunks of meaty game, stews, and slops. At least this is what is often portrayed of diets of the past. However, the reality is that some diets dating back to 700 CE (AD) were not that different from what we eat -- or are suggested to eat -- today. A trip to the Viking Museum in Stockholm gave me a glimpse into what the Vikings ate, and it is both surprising, and pretty nutritious.
According to the Viking Museum's curators, archaeological finds of contents of Viking stomach remains provides a picture of their typical diet. Barley, rye, emmer and einkorn (types of wheat) were eaten as breads, porridges and soups. Bread and porridges were staples in the Viking diet, but there were also a variety of other wholesome foods. The Vikings were "self-sufficient farmers with agriculture and animal husbandry," and "...hunting and fishing contributed a significant amount, as well as herbs, roots, berries and nuts." The Vikings were able to have cabbage throughout the winter months, and hazelnuts and apples were "plentiful". Most food was cooked over an open fireplace. Importantly, contrary to what we see in the movies and other portrayals of the Vikings, meat was more scarce, with "fattened" pigs only slaughtered on special occasions (and were enjoyed with lots of mead!).
As noted above, for breakfast, "you ate porridge with butter and sour milk, maybe some hazelnuts and berries or barley bread with butter -- and light beer to drink."
Although we typically do not drink alcohol in the morning anymore, the Viking diet, in terms of overall health and supporting a person with an active lifestyle, is much better than what we probably thought from what we see on T.V. Rich with whole grains, nut oils, and single-ingredient foods, such as berries and vegetables, with sparing dairy and meat, the Viking diet likely gave the Vikings a good amount of energy, without the toxic chemicals and over-processed food that we eat today. In today's world, we are able to get more leafy greens and fresh produce available throughout the year, as are lean proteins such as tofu, yogurt, and beans. Indeed, in grocery stores (and even convenience stores) in Stockholm today, there is a wide variety of fresh produce, pre-made salads and veggie options, wholesome soups and sandwiches, and global cuisine from all over the world.
If you are interested in building a nutrition plan for your next business trip, contact one of our fitness and nutrition experts today. We can help you stay on track and fuel your fitness goals, and get into Fighting Shape even when you are on the go.