This is a follow-up to the very popular diet post, How to Gain 1,000 Pounds (454 kilos) in 9 Days in Italy. That diet, admittedly, was more fun to follow. This one places a much greater emphasis on deprivation.
While no Finnish person would ever need this diet, since their modelesque 6+ foot-tall frames can evenly distribute up to 600 pounds and still rock a mini skirt, these diet tips come in useful for any “outsider” planning a trip to Helsinki. You’ll want to go in prepared.
Finnish cuisine is a mix of Russian, Nordic, and Baltic influences. It’s gaining notoriety worldwide as innovative, fresh, and flavorful. Think lots of fish, potatoes, berries, and reindeer. Yes, reindeer.
But that all comes from Wikipedia. I don’t know a lick about Finnish cuisine, because I never got to taste it during my trip to Helsinki. That’s the overall gist of the Helsinki crash diet, friends: Don’t eat anything. Mostly due to circumstances rather than actual self control.
Let’s expand on that idea in 7 simple steps:
1. Visit Helsinki During Midsummer
This is the golden rule of the diet: the points to your Weight Watchers; the protein to your Atkins, the grass to your Paleo. For this diet to be successful when you travel to Finland, you must visit Helsinki during Midsummer, a celebration of the Summer Solstice.
Why is this crucial? Because in Midsummer, there is not a soul around. I learned this the hard way. The place is all but evacuated, and that includes waiters, supermarket clerks, and baristas. There is no one there to feed you, no matter how loud you and your stomach cry out.
2. Walk 3+ Hours in Search of a Restaurant
Ok, so I may be exaggerating a bit. There is a soul in the city; I think I crossed about 2 passersby down near the docks. And there are a handful of restaurants open. You may just have to do several laps around the entire city to find them. Get out your Fitbit. See how many calories you just burned trying to find a place to feed you?
3. No Cheating
At this point you’re weak. You’re jonesing for some nuts, a candy bar, anything with caloric value. But therein lies the beauty of this diet: There is no cheating. It is forced starvation. Much like prison, you do not have access to more food in Helsinki at Midsummer. It is simply not an option. Restaurants have depressingly cheerful signs reading, “Enjoy Midsummer, we’ll see you on Tuesday!” Even supermarkets are closed.
4. Realize You’re Too Poor for Finland
You finally stumble across an open restaurant!!!!! You start to salivate. Except what’s that? A burger for 20 euros? Finland and the rest of the Nordic countries are prohibitively expensive. Your stomach groans, but if you drop 20 euros on every damn burger that comes your way, you won’t have enough to catch your ferry to Estonia. And in Estonia, you hear there’s cheaper food.
5. Repeat Step 2
Walk until you find another restaurant.
Keep walking, just keep walking. Blisters can’t kill you. Starvation can.
6. Eat a Gerbil-Sized Portion
There’s a light in the distance. It’s from a neon red sign advertising an Asian restaurant. Most of the menu is still outrageously expensive—fried rice for 18 euros—but they have sushi a-la-carte. You order 2 pieces of sushi for 6 euros, because a spoonful of rice is better than no rice at all.
7. Involuntarily Shake
Meanwhile, it’s 50 degrees F (10 C) in summer. Do you have any idea how many calories shivering burns?
By the time your ferry whisks you away to Estonia the next day, you should have walked off, shivered away, and internally burned approximately 100 pounds of fat, muscle, and tears. Which means you now look as modelish as the average Finn. You’re welcome!
*Disclaimer: Helsinki is actually known to have some fantastic restaurants, and Finnish cuisine is very much up-and-coming. Go in mentally prepared to splurge a bit, and you’re sure to have some unforgettable foodie experiences when you’re there.
Have you ever experienced the food scene in Finland? What did I miss?