Celebrating Valentine's Day with your partner can pose many obstacles to healthy eating. But don't fret. There are many ways to enjoy your Valentine's date without the extra calories. Here are some alternatives to try — this Valentine's Day and from now on to ensure your love life doesn't add to your love handles.
Have you ever received cake or chocolate and felt you had to eat it because you didn't want to be rude? It's almost like wearing the sweater he got you even though you hate it, because you don't want to hurt his feelings. The first thing you should do this Valentine's Day (or any other day of the year) is let your partner know or gently remind him that you're watching what you eat. Tell him exactly how you're doing this (whether it's reduced calories, fewer carbohydrates or no added sugars). Ask him to help you by not giving you the 5-pound box of chocolates. If he really wants to give you chocolate, tell him you prefer dark chocolate made with at least 65 per cent cocoa, and remind him to get only enough for you and him to share for the day, not enough to last you for weeks. If you voice your concerns and goals openly, your partner will be eager to help you.
I wouldn't dream of telling you to skip the romantic dinner this year — go ahead and do the romantic Valentine's Day dinner, but do it wisely. Encourage each other to choose the healthiest items on the menu. If you're going somewhere new, look up the menu, and ask the restaurant if it has alternatives like whole-wheat pastas, brown rice and whole-grain breads. Can it make the chocolate dessert with dark chocolate or reduce the amount of sugar in it? You don't have to skip courses; just be smart about them, and ask questions.
Indulging on Valentine's Day shouldn't be a licence or pass to indulge the rest of the month or whenever you're out on a date. If you're going to indulge in some decadent dessert for Valentine's Day celebrations, weigh your options wisely. Choose the gourmet chocolate cakes or the chocolates your partner gave you, not both. Choose the dessert item you really want to try, and let that be it. I always ask myself if a dish will be worth the calories before I indulge. If the answer is maybe or that I'm not sure, I skip the item and wait for something that is absolutely worth it. I also make sure I put in some extra time at the gym.
And I don't mean just that type of physical. What I mean is that your date nights don't have to be all about food or movies. Instead of spending money to indulge at your favourite restaurant, pick an activity you both enjoy or want to try. Enroll in salsa or ballroom dance classes. Go skiing, skating or bowling. Some couples even go to the gym together to motivate each other. If neither of you likes the gym, take up a sport together. Play tennis or volleyball, or meet up at the pool. Making physical activity part of your date nights will keep you feeling more fit while enjoying time together.
Imagine how romantic working on a painting together with your partner could be. Do some digging, and find a paint café, where you can paint a picture together while enjoying some coffee. Not only is this idea so much more unique than the usual dinner-and-a-movie date night, but the creative juices also spark interesting conversations and help you bond. If your area doesn't have any paint cafés, buy a canvas and some paints, throw on some soft music, keep some healthy snacks around and boom: instant romantic date. Don't forget to put your initials in a heart as the signature of your painting.
If you and your partner still want to spend time in the presence of food, plan and prepare a romantic indoor or outdoor picnic together. Great options include vegetables and gourmet dips, salads and fancy homemade sandwiches on whole-grain pita or sliced bread. By making your own food, you'll know exactly what's gone into what your eating, you'll save money while avoiding calories and — best of all — you'll bond with your sweetheart. If you want more than a picnic, grab some aprons, and try creating or testing recipes together.
Whichever dates you decide to go on, if you find they're having a negative influence on your healthy eating goals, talk to your partner honestly, and change something, whether it's what you eat, how often you eat out or the activities you do together. If your partner isn't watching his weight or doesn't want to, that's his choice. Just be clear about your personal goals, and ask for his support. Being in love and dating should be fun and happy experiences, not ones that leave you with negative results or emotions. It is possible to love and live happily while keeping your skinny jeans and belly happy. It's all about balance.
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