No matter who has the key to your heart- whether it’s a significant other, child or pet- make sure it’s the key to a healthy heart! Follow some of these heart healthy Valentine’s Day tips from the American Heart Association to make sure your ticker keeps on ticking!
1.) Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire or if you’re feeling adventurous, visit an indoor rock wall.
2.) If your children are having a Valentine’s Day party at their school or day care, instead of sending candies, consider mini-boxes of raisins, mini-bags of pretzels, pencils or stickers as tokens of their friendly affection.
3.) Cooking at home is an excellent way to control the quality and amounts of what you eat. Take a date to a local cooking class to practice your skills or learn a new technique.
4.) Still craving something sweet? Send a fruit basket to your loved one that has natural sugar as well as healthy nutrients instead of sending sweets with added sugars.
5.) Spice it up – try cooking at home with healthier seasonings and avoid prepackaged mixes that may contain a lot of salt. Instead, add some spice with some fresh hot peppers. Remove the membrane and seeds first, then finely chop them up. A little goes a long way.
6.) Sharing is caring – if you do go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share. Many restaurant servings are enough for two – splitting will keep you from overdoing it.
7.) Don’t forget to love Fido, too! Give your pet a Valentine and remember to walk or exercise them daily – getting active will benefit your health while you bond with your pets.
8.) Rather than tempting your beloved with chocolates, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine.
9.) Take it slow – if you were gifted a luxurious box of chocolates from your sweetie stick it in the fridge or freezer and enjoy in moderation over several weeks.
10.) Still seeing hearts? You’ve seen hearts all month long; look for them at the grocery store and select products with the heart-check mark, which limits the amount of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium in a food.
11.) One of the best things you can do for your heart is to give up smoking or help a loved one quit. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death.
12.) Know before you go – make it a point next time you go out to eat to look up the nutrition information for the restaurant you’re going to (most major chains have this online) and note the nutrition information for what you plan or usually order. Just knowing what you’re eating is a good step in the right direction.
13.) Get active inside – winter is almost over, but there are plenty of ways to get moving indoors that don’t involve a gym membership; start mall walking, hit the stairs at work, or check out a yoga video form the public library.
14.) Stay hydrated – staying properly hydrated helps you feel (and look) better and water is a great alternative to high-calorie, sugar-sweetened drinks. Treat yourself to a fun new water bottle to encourage the habit – if it’s always handy, you’re more likely to drink up.
15.) Try something new – dare yourself to try a new fruit or vegetable. Next time you’re at the store pick up something you’ve never made before. Many grocery stores have free recipe cards in the produce section or just type the food into your favorite search engine.