Valentine’s Day can be a difficult day to get through when you are trying to stick to a diet. Somehow, the day that is used to celebrate love and partnership has come to include eating a meal at a restaurant and presenting your loved one with chocolates and other sweets. Luckily, these traditions are not set in stone, and you do not need to completely abandon your diet to participate in Valentine’s Day fun. The following tips provide healthy alternatives that will help you feel your best on Valentine’s Day.
1. Plan Ahead
Valentine’s Day is not a surprise temptation – it comes every year on February 14. Plan your diet and exercise for the week to accommodate your Valentine’s Day plans. For example, if you know that you will be eating a higher calorie or higher fat meal on Valentine’s Day, plan lighter meals for the surrounding days. Increasing your exercise can also help to counteract the extra calories of the day. Putting in an extra half-hour of cardio or increasing the intensity of your exercise routine can really help to prepare you, both physically and mentally, to enjoy a slightly more indulgent day of eating. No matter what your plan is, having a plan will help you to feel in control of your diet.
2. Let Fruit Be Your Sweet Treat
A box of chocolates is nice, but an arrangement of beautifully ripened fruits can be equally, if not more, decadent and romantic. If you want to add chocolate, try drizzling a small amount over the top of your fruit instead of dipping and completely covering the fruit with chocolate. Fruit is naturally sweet, and it is full of healthy nutrients and invigorating antioxidants that will give you and your partner energy without the inevitable crash that comes with eating the processed sugars that are in most chocolate candies.
3. Skip the Movie Theater and Enjoy a Romantic Nature Walk
Engaging in physical activity on a date has a lot of benefits. Not only does burning calories as you exercise contribute to weight loss, but you are releasing endorphins, including oxytocin that make you feel happy and more connected to other individuals. Technically speaking, walking together with your partner will bring you closer together than sitting together as you watch a movie. Also, walking provides a nice space to express emotions in a comfortable way. For many individuals, being able to naturally not keep constant eye contact during a conversation makes talking about deep or difficult things an easier task.
4. Cook At Home
Cooking at home is almost always a lower calorie option than eating out. Restaurants tend to use a lot of fats and oils to make their food taste good. Flavor compounds are fat-soluble, so when fat is added to a dish it strengthens the flavor of the food. Restaurants want to appeal to the widest number of individuals possible and also want to be distinctive from other restaurants. Oftentimes, these goals motivate restaurants to over-saturate their food with fat to give their dishes a strong flavor. Cooking at home gives you a lot more control over how your food is prepared and how many calories of extra fat are added. Another aspect of restaurant dining that makes eating out difficult for dieters is that portion sizes are generally very large. Restaurants do not want customers to leave feeling hungry or feeling that they did not get their money’s worth of food. If you do choose to eat out, consider sharing an entrée with your partner to help reduce your caloric intake.
5. Relax and Enjoy the Day
Stress can sabotage a diet. When the body feels stressed, it starts to conserve resources so that it will have what it needs to make it through the upcoming stressful event. Try not to get too worried about how Valentine’s Day will impact your diet. If you have prepared ahead of time you should be able to avoid a lot of the excess calories that are traditionally consumed on Valentine’s Day. If you have not made a plan or you end up eating more than you wanted to, be comforted in knowing that one higher calorie day does not destroy the effects of a generally healthy diet. Just remember to try and keep it to one day. Toss out leftover sweets or bring them to work so that your house will not be filled with temptations as you get back on track with your dietary and weight loss goals.