Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and while this holiday is a special time for you and your significant other, it can be difficult to stay on track with all of the chocolate, snacks, and treats available this time of year. Don’t get me wrong–I love sweets as much as the next person, but there needs to be a balance between what we eat, how often we eat, and how much activity we are involved with. So, I’m here today to bring you some tips to keep you active, healthy, and happy this Valentine’s Day!
Me and my husband, Andreas
1. Eat red. Red is the color of love, so go ahead and add this vibrant choice to your dinner menu. Whether you choose to have a romantic dinner out, or spend a quiet evening in, eating red produce will provide you with the naturally occurring chemical lycopene, which is a great source of antioxidants, and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (1). To get extra lycopene into your evening course, add some tomatoes on your side salad, incorporate red peppers into your main course, and enjoy grapefruit with dessert. But don’t just eat red on Valentine’s Day–make sure that this produce option is part of your every day diet to get maximum benefits!
2. Get your sweat on. To help avoid feeling lethargic and bloated for a special date later that day, hit the gym in the morning to feel energized and motivated! Exercise has many beneficial outcomes, such as reducing the risk of obesity-related illnesses, cancers, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increasing your mental health, mood, bone strength, and overall well-being, so it’s important to make sure that this is included in your every-day routine, not just on Valentine’s Day (2). Another reason to work out in the morning is that it may help prevent over-eating throughout the day, and therefore keeping your diet on track.
3. Stay active. If you and your date plan on attending a movie or hanging out in the kitchen baking delicious treats all day, why not embark on a fun adventure instead? Go for a hike, play a round of tennis, or tie up your bowling shoes for a fun round of competition–not only will this allow more time to talk and have fun, but it will also incorporate some exercise into your day and keep you moving.
4. It’s OK to splurge…a little. You don’t have to eat 3 dozen cookies, a box of chocolates, and cake to have a good Valentine’s Day, but you also don’t need to deny yourself something sweet. To stay on track, you can buy a pre-portioned dessert from the store; make a dessert at home that you can divide up and store for later; or ,when at a restaurant, share a special dessert with your date. One of my favorite things to do is make miniature cheesecakes in cupcake tins, as this allows for portion control while still enjoying a sweet treat.
Whatever your plans are, make sure that you have fun, enjoy the day, and keep moving–your body, mind and soul will thank you for it.
(1) Lycopene and Cardiovascular Disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/71/6/1691s.full
(2) The Benefits of Physical Activity. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/
Written by Sarah Achleithner, BS, Nutrition Communications Coordinator for Triad to Wellness