Stressed out? Time for fish sticks.
Half of all Swedish families consume full- or semi-finished food products such as fish sticks, black pudding (blodpudding) or ready-made meatballs, according to a survey. Of the thousands of parents who responded to the survey, conducted by Aptit (a company that links restaurants with customers who want food served at a place other than the restaurant), 17 percent eat mostly filmjölk (a dairy product similar to plain yogurt) or a sandwich. Agneta Yngve, professor of Public Health Nutrition at the University of Oslo and Akershus, says that studies show these products affect our health.

“This type of product often contains more fat and less important nutrients. More and more nutrition experts believe that the best thing is to prepare your food yourself.” But for many families there’s not enough time or energy to cook, once they get home from work. Twenty-two percent of the women responding to the survey said they often feel too stressed out to cook, and one in ten men feels that way. Dietician Fredrik Bertz at the Sahlgrenska Academy believes it’s unrealistic to expect families to cut out the ready-made products altogether.
“If you can’t keep it up in your day-to-day life, then you won’t be able to continue with it. I therefore think it’s better to aim for a softer way, where you still get a decent quality,” he says. “Even if you use full- or semi-finished food products, you can still make good choices.”
The top four tips from Swedish dieticians are:
1. Try to look for products with less salt, sugar and saturated fats.
2. Drink water or low fat milk, avoid soft drinks and soda.
3. Try to fill a third of your plate with vegetables, any kind will do.
4. Try eating a vegetarian dish once a week.
Children often like the softer tastes of vegetarian food. How much time do Swedish families with children spend on planning, buying and cooking food during a normal week? 30 percent say they spend more than 5 hours. 12 percent say they spend between 4-5 hours. 12 percent say they spend 3-4 hours. 11 percent say they spend 2-3 hours, and 25 percent report they spend less than an hour.