I have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Sweden visiting Stockholm and the beautiful Sigtuna where I was godmother at a christening. Everything I was confronted with was so simple and elegant, from the airport, to the hotel décor and food. It wasn’t long before I realised I was experiencing lagom. If you haven’t come across this Swedish word before, it has become very fashionable recently being featured by the BBC and Vogue and it essentially explains in one word just the right amount. The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as ‘sufficient, enough, adequate, just right’. It can be applied to everything from how you live your life, to interior design, to diet. When talking to a Swedish friend at dinner he explained that if you were to ask me how much milk I liked in my tea I might respond ‘lagom, not too much and not too little’.
As godmother, I had to keep with Swedish tradition and make a speech in the evening. When I asked my neighbour at lunch what I could say in Swedish by means of an introduction such as ‘good evening ladies and gentlemen’ he couldn’t think of an equivalent, he said ‘we just wouldn’t say that, we’d get straight into the speech’. This seems to sum up the Swedish language, why should I use five words when I can use one? Keep it simple: lagom.
In relation to food, when presented with the option of a second helping, I always try, but generally fail, to listen to the words of Mary Poppins ‘enough is as good as a feast’. I think this is a great mantra to go by in our overindulging world. Why do you need more, when you’ve had enough?
I was contemplating the concept of lagom and Mary Poppins, while feeling slightly worse for wear the morning after, and it occurred to me just how difficult it is to achieve any of this among today’s food environment. Hotel breakfast buffets are the perfect example of temptation leading to over consumption. When faced with such a delicious variety of foods, each set out in their different zones: juices, fruit, pastries, breads and spreads, cereals and granola, cooked breakfast, chilled meats and smoked salmon, cheeses…how are you supposed to resist the temptation just to try a bit of everything? I always set out just to have something similar to what I would have at home, with the addition of a juice, oh and some fruit, oh and maybe some toast, so I start off with a relatively big portion (or two little portions depending on the size of bowl provided!), and then I say to myself, well I am on holiday and crack into the next breakfast zone, having eaten probably four times as many calories as I would have done at home. This is certainly not lagom! But it goes to show that sometimes temptation just gets the better of you. I would suggest that if you are serious about losing or maintaining weight, you approach a breakfast buffet with tunnel vision, pick a zone and stick to it!
Overall however, lagom, or enough is as good as a feast, is a great guide for eating habits (and overall consumption). I for one will continue striving to follow this outlook on life.