American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day are just around the corner, and create perfect reminders about the importance of staying true to our heart health.
If you are like me, you may tend to over-indulge in delicious comfort foods, such as your favorite baked sweet treats during the colder months. Valentine’s Day also traditionally gives us an added excuse to spoil our taste buds with fancy dinners out and expensive chocolates.
From intimate meals to decadent desserts, on February 14th couples from across the globe will be celebrating their love. This Valentine’s Day, with a few tips and some planning, you can get through your celebration in a heart-healthy fashion, and avoid adding unwanted inches to your waistline.
Heart- Healthy Advice for Your Valentine's Day Celebration
1. Avoid the truffles; indulge in other chocolate options - Valentine’s Day typically brings on immediate thoughts of indulging your sweetheart with their favorite chocolate treats. Instead of giving them candies that are sure to rid them with guilt once the heart-shaped box has been devoured, try these alternatives instead:
- Dark chocolate-dipped strawberries or other fruit
- Dark chocolate-dipped almonds or other nuts
- Dark chocolate-covered raisins
- Chocolate-dipped pretzels
2. Plan an active outing – Skip the movie theatre and crowded restaurants and spend time with your Valentine(s) being adventurous outdoors. Sledding, ice skating, and gathering wood for a romantic evening by the fire are great ways to spend quality time together.
3. Prepare a heart-healthy home cooked meal - Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. Avoid the congested restaurants and high-priced specialty menus by having a quiet dinner at home. Avoid heavy foods and rich sauces, by substituting more fresh and natural ingredients.
4. If you decide to eat out- look at the restaurant’s healthy options online beforehand. Don’t hesitate to ask your server for a menu showing nutritional information upon being seated (many places now have them available at the host station).
5. Be prepared if traveling- if going on a romantic getaway, ask yourself a few essential questions beforehand.
- Are vaccinations required?
- Is your passport up-to-date?
- Have you packed according to the expected weather conditions?
- If you take medications, have do you have enough to get you through your trip?
- Have you updated your MedicAlert Emergency Health Record?
- Do you have a backup medical ID should something happen to yours while away from home?
6. Give some hugs- giving hugs is a great way to show your loved ones affection, and giving hugs has been shown to help lower blood pressure in both men and women.
7. Avoid being sick in bed on Valentine’s Day- protect yourself from the cold and flu.
- Wash hands often.
- Try to avoid close contact with those at work and home who are sick.
- Sanitize door knobs, phones, remotes, etc. often when being around those suffering from the flu or common cold.
- If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to get your flu shot.
8. Avoid stress by not overdoing it - Valentine’s Day tends to create feelings of high expectations from loved ones. Moderation is the key. Being thoughtful and not stressing over the need to plan huge surprises is your ticket to a stress-free Valentine’s Day.