Eileen Dutter, R.D.
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The holidays are behind you and the new year has begun. Like many, you may be focusing on the goal of improving your health. Then comes Valentine's Day — a day that's full of indulgences which may sabotage your plans for health improvement.
Even if you don't have a romantic partner, treats are all around on Valentine's Day. Usually, if the treats are there, it's hard not to eat them. So what can you do? Have faith, all is not lost.
Many Valentine's Day gifts center around sweet treats. This year, express interest in a gift that doesn't include food, such as flowers or balloons.
Here are some additional tips that may help you achieve your health goals and enjoy Valentine's Day:
Skip eating out:
- Avoid 2,000-calorie entrees by preparing a leaner version of your favorite meal at home, including large portions of fruits and vegetables.
- Make a healthier, delicious dessert. Try this Bavarian cream dessert recipe.
- Prepare the meal with someone you enjoy and have fun while you cook.
- Set the table with nice dishes and include candles and music for a beautiful presentation.
- Eat one or two dark chocolates, but decline a full box.
Start a food-free Valentine's Day tradition:
- Try a new physical activity, like bowling, cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing or just going for a walk.
- Head to the gym or yoga studio with your significant other.
- Write a love letter.
- Plan a scavenger hunt.
- Host a dance party in the kitchen.
Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way:
- Grill fruit, such as bananas, peaches and pineapple. These fruits are delicious grilled and can be served with a dollop of fat-free whipped topping.
- Make a fresh fruit salad.
- Drizzle dark chocolate over fresh strawberries.
- Serve yogurt with fruit.
- Try a fruit that you've never tried before.
Try this Bavarian cream dessert:
- 1 cup skim milk (may use 1 cup of water and vanilla shake powder)
- 1 1.4 ounce sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1 cup vanilla sugar-free, low-fat yogurt
- 1 cup fat-free sour cream
- 1 can light cherry pie filling
- Fat-free or light whipped topping
Mix milk and pudding together. Add yogurt and sour cream. Add cherry pie filling, and top with whipped topping.
Nutrition information: 160 calories per cup
Celebrate American Heart Month or Black History Month instead
- Attend a special lecture, museum exhibit or film screening.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
- Participate in an organized heart walk or a monthly step challenge.
- Go to health demonstrations, presentations, and cholesterol and blood pressure screenings to understand your individual risk for heart disease.
Last, but not least: Don't forget the card.