A few years ago I was in Italy talking with a few other people about food, and somehow the conversation turned to diets, wellness, weight loss, etc. The two women I was with started describing their various eating plans — one didn't eat after 6 p.m., and the other avoided carbs. I said I did not really follow a diet or eating plan, but in general I just tried to use the Mediterranean Diet as a guideline. When they didn't know what that was, I explained it was about focusing on fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, whole grains, and olive oil.
They both looked at me like I was out of my mind.
"That's not a diet," one of the Italian women said. "That's just food."
That's pretty much the same thought I had when I first heard about the Scandi Sense diet, which appears to be the hot new diet for 2018 and has been called "the simplest diet in the world." That's almost certainly true, because the Scandi Sense Diet is basically just a guide to eating in moderation.
What Is the Scandi Sense Diet?
The Scandi Sense Diet was written by Suzy Wengel. The premise is about measuring your meals in handfuls, and then making sure each meal has a few handfuls of different kinds of foods — mostly vegetables.
The idea of "handfuls" confused me at first. Is it a closed fist or a big, grab-everything-you-can claw? Fortunately, Wengel has a YouTube video explaining her food philosophy, and she demonstrates the measurement by holding a small salad in a gently cupped, "scoop" shaped hand.
A person's hand size would clearly change the amount of food they were getting under this plan, but Wengel says that's a feature, and that a person with small hands should eat less, while a person with larger hands eats more.
How Does It Work?
So Wengel said the idea is to eat three meals a day (except that gets flexible later), and every meal is a "meal box" made of three or four handfuls of food. One or two handfuls are vegetables, another is protein, and the final handful is starch and/or fruit. And you can also have up to three tablespoons of fat or dairy products per meal.
The diet is extremely simple, because the rule is that just two of the three meals you eat in a day must follow this model. You can also swap the handfuls between meal boxes if you want to, so if you skip the bread at lunch you can have two portions at dinner. (That's especially useful if you plan on drinking, because the Scandi Sense diet lets you have wine or beer for handful four — carbs.)
No ingredients or foods are banned on the "diet," either. You can exchange meal boxes for cakes if you want, and if a person goes completely off-plan and eats a bunch of pizza and sausages and beer, Wengel says not to worry about it. Just close the "pizza and cake" meal box when you're finished, and move onto the next healthful four-handful meal box immediately.
If there's too much on a big, four-handful plate and you'd rather have snacks, you can take portions from your meals and keep them for later for between-meal snacks. And if you're planning a big dinner, eat half a normal meal for breakfast and lunch.
Why It's Popular
The idea of eating less for breakfast and lunch when you know you're planning a big dinner is not exactly groundbreaking, but nothing about the Scandi Sense diet is revolutionary. It's similar to Michael Pollan's famous line: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
But the Scandi Sense diet's popularity is specifically due to its simplicity. It really doesn't feel like a "diet" at all — more like an intuitive guide to measuring food and eating in moderation and following a balanced diet, in a way a person could theoretically stick to forever.
What do you think of the Scandi Sense diet?