Oh, Valentine’s Day. You are, like, a dieter’s worst nightmare. Sure, Halloween and Thanksgiving have their challenges, but this is a holiday built around candy and fancy (ie: indulgent) dinners. But have no fear, dear readers! It’s the first day of February and Lady Lazarus is here to save your day and your sweet tooth.
Nix the Candy
Be honest: does your sweetheart really need to give you a big ol’ box of chocolates to prove their love to you? (If you said yes, you’re doing it wrong.) Flowers are nice but last a week at most and teddy bears a bit juvenile, so if you’re stuck for a non-sugar gift idea, go old school: write a poem. Paint a picture. My dad always writes my mom the cutest notes in his various holiday cards to her (yes, I peek). If all else fails, any of the items on my Healthy Holiday Gift Guide could also work for Valentine’s Day.
Go In With a Plan
If you can’t completely give up the chocolate (and, really, who can?) decide how much or how many pieces you can fit into your diet and stick to it. A friend recently asked me how I manage to balance alcohol with my healthy lifestyle and I said it’s all a manner of planning and following through. I figure out how many drinks I will have (usually only one) and what kind of drink and once I’ve had that one drink, that’s it. No more. Any other kind of indulgence, like candy or dessert, works the same way. A couple Hershey Kisses aren’t gonna kill you or completely wreck you diet. The trouble comes when you mindlessly eat (meaning you have no clue how many you actually had) and then you don’t track. Back at my holiday work party, I might have eaten way over what I planned to (see, sometimes we all can plan and still slip up), but I tracked every single one of those stupid mini eclairs so at the end of the night I knew exactly where I stood.
Yes, it might be a wee bit embarrassing to have to track all the chocolate or treats you probably shouldn’t have had, but the only person who is going to see your tracker or has to know is you. So just face the music, let it go, and move on.
Take advantage of the great outdoors by having an activity-based date! Bundle up and go skiing or sledding or just take a walk. If you have any colleges local to you, see if they have a skating rink that offers ice skating. A package for dance lessons, like salsa or ballroom, is not only a great way to burn calories but will also help you as a couple establish a regular date night. And, of course, being the most romantic day of the year, you can never go wrong with a good ol’ fashioned roll in the hay to get all hot and sweaty (yes, I went there).
Cook Together at Home
There’s no rule that you have to go out to a restaurant for Valentine’s Day. In fact, cooking a meal together in your own home can be super fun and romantic. You can even make an afternoon of it: go grocery shopping together for ingredients, pick out a bottle of wine you both like, when you get home put on some background music for ambiance, and get cooking! Not only will you have had a lovely time with your significant other, but you’ll have a healthy and delicious meal, and because you bought the ingredients and cooked it yourself you’ll know exactly what you’re eating so there’s no guesswork involved.
Do Your Research
Many restaurants post their nutrition information online, so if you are going out to eat and have access to that info, take a look at it before you head out for the night. I’ll even make a list of a few different options with calorie count/Weight Watchers points so that when I get to the restaurant I can decide based on what I’m hungry for, if I did any exercise, how many points I have to play with, etc. If the restaurant you’re going to doesn’t provide that information, ask them. Seriously. After looking over a menu online, I’ve emailed restaurants before to get the nutritional info on a particular entree that sounded good. It might take them a few days to get back to you, so give yourself plenty of time.
Split It Up
Consider splitting an entree with your date. Restaurant portions are notoriously huge and way more than you really need: a standard dinner at a restaurant is, really, like two or three servings so save money and your waist line by getting one dinner to share between the two of you. If you both want two different things, then ask for a to-go box right away and put half of your meal in the box so you won’t even think about eating it and take it home for lunch tomorrow.
Pick Your Battles
Bread brought to the table. Appetizer before dinner. Wine with the meal. Dessert when you’re done. Bet you never realized how many decisions an average dinner out requires, huh? You don’t have to say yes to everything but you also don’t have to say no to everything either. It’s more a question of what is worth the points and/or calories. Maybe skip the bread and have dessert. Or skip both and go for an extra glass of wine. Find that happy balance about what indulges you do want and which ones can be passed on.
What are some of your tips for getting through Valentine’s Day without overindulging?
Love from the ashes,