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Although the origins of Valentine’s Day were actually quite dark, presently, this holiday has become synonymous with an overabundance of sweet treats – candies, intricately decorated cupcakes, heart-shaped cookies, pastries and, of course, all things chocolate. As much as we love having our homes filled with all of these chocolates and sweets gifted to us by loved ones, we don’t necessarily love the extra fat, sugar, and calories we are consuming, especially since it’s only been a little over a month into all of our New Year’s resolutions!
Another common Valentine’s Day tradition is going out for a fancy and high-calorie dinner, complete with excess alcohol and a high-fat dessert. This can make it difficult to stay on track with your health and wellness goals, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. However, it is possible to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a healthier manner.
Here are some tips for enjoying a healthier day of love:
Instead of battling the intense crowds to enjoy an overpriced dinner at a restaurant, stay in this Valentine’s Day and cook a romantic, healthy dinner together. It will save a ton of calories because you can control what goes into your dishes. Plus, if you prepare dinner together, it can be a lot of fun! You can cook with your friends, too, if you’re single. Prepare a personal favorite or look up something new and fun to create. Splurge on a nice bottle of wine, which has antioxidants that are good for your heart.
If you are gifting a special someone with chocolate, do they really need a whole box? If chocolate is a must, go for quality over quantity and buy select pieces instead of an entire box. That way, the box isn’t sitting around and tempting your loved one who’s trying to eat healthier. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to find other gifts the person would love just as much, if not more, like a coupon for a fun workout class, a manicure, and pedicure, or tickets to a movie or theatre show.
Sweat together on Valentine’s Day! Try a new activity together, especially if it burns calories in the process. Obviously, there can be intimacy, but change things up! Take a salsa dancing class or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy after a hike. Lots of boutique gyms also do partner workouts for Valentine’s Day. Sweat boosts your endorphin levels and will make the rest of your day that much sweeter.
It is possible to have healthy treats that still taste great! It usually requires making your own, but it can be a lot of fun with a lot less guilt. Think fresh fruits drizzled lightly in rich dark chocolate or a fruit salad with coconut shreds!
If you’re into baking your own treats, simply make healthy swaps. Switch out half the butter or oil in cakes and cookies recipes with plain applesauce, canned pumpkin, dates or mashed-up bananas. This cuts calories while maintaining moisture and flavor. Avocados also work well in some sweet recipes like dairy-free ice cream and mousse mixtures.
Be sure to give yourself the heart-healthy gift of relaxation. Stressing about making the day perfect or having everything go according to plan isn’t going to make it any better. Spend less time worrying and more time enjoying yourself.
You don’t need gigantic boxes of chocolates or an expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant to show your loved ones that you care. Whether you celebrate the day with a significant other, your friends or on your own, there are plenty of ways to keep things fun and healthy this Valentine’s Day!
Carrie Gabriel studied nutrition at California State University-Los Angeles and got her RDN through the Coordinated Dietetics Program there. She works as a dietitian for different corporate wellness companies, creating recipes for cooking demos and content for nutrition seminars.
She created her company, Steps2Nutrition, in 2012 in hopes of working more one on one with busy professionals and their specific nutritional needs. She has an advanced certification in weight management and specializes in gluten and dairy free meal preparation for various clients.
You can find some of Carrie’s healthy and delicious recipes and meal tips on her website, www.steps2nutrition.com, and on her Instagram and Twitter account, @steps2nutrition.