Tis the season for candy hearts, chocolate covered everything, champagne toasts, and dining out with your dream date on decadent, (over) indulgent food. OR, if you’re single (by choice or not), dining in dateless and celebrating solo with a bottle of wine, pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a pound of popcorn whilst watching Rachel McAdams movies. However, you choose to celebrate, here are a few tips to get through the big night without sabotaging all your New Years Resolutions or adding inches to your waistline:
- Think outside the box! Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love and romance. If the best you can come up with is a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine, you need to work on expanding your mind. With the wonders of the World Wide Web, there’s really no excuse for being boring and predictable…even for those that lack creativity and innovation. If you and your lover are on a quest to become healthy and fit, a couple’s massage is the way to go! It will eliminate toxins, won’t pack on any pounds, and will have you naked and feeling like you’re 2 drinks deep when it’s over without the empty calories of alcohol. What’s sexier and more romantic than that?
Perhaps if it’s a first date and you have morals and standards, I suggest you keep your clothes on. Consider a painting date. If you’re not creative or artistic, just bring your sense of humor and have a blast. If the date is a bomb, you will have a parting gift and a funny story to tell! If you insist on going old-school and giving the gift of chocolate, go Godiva or go home! Just like in the realm of dating, quality trumps quantity! ALWAYS!
- Just say “NO” to the breadbasket. Save you appetite and calories for the main course. You can crush a whole meal worth of calories on a basket of bread combined with butter and a ball of nervous energy. Relax, sit back and take it all in. If you are on a first date, don’t feel compelled to fill any awkward silence with conversation. When we put this kind of pressure on ourselves, we not only fail to listen and really hear what our date has to say, we also tend to fill those uncomfortable voids with mouthfuls of food.
- Take it easy on the tapas. There is nothing wrong with having an appetizer before dinner, especially when the restaurant is slammed and you have to wait a small eternity to get served. Opt for some of the more protein-rich or less lard-laden varieties such as mussels, oysters on a half shell, ahi tuna slices, a small salad, or miso soup. This will help stave your hunger a bit so you don’t scarf down your main meal like a ravenous, feral beast when it finally arrives. Some people find that off-putting.
- You’re special; so don’t be afraid to make special requests. Just like exercises, most meals can be modified in some way to wreak less havoc on your body. Doing something as simple as getting your sauce or salad dressing on the side can save you from consuming hundreds of empty calories. Subbing steamed veggies for fried anything (especially fried carbs) is imperative if you value you health and current wardrobe. Find out if your meal can be made without butter, oil or salt…anything that could help cut down on calories. And remember: in terms of calories, grilled is usually better than fried and baked is better than braised.
- Practice portion control. Americans have acquired such a skewed perspective on what a human size portion looks like and we seem to equate volume with value. In my opinion, this should never be the case, but especially in the realm of food. If your plate is the size of a hubcap and is overflowing with food, it is not an ideal meal size for any human under 7’ tall who is not a professional athlete. Consider sharing (GASP! I can’t believe I said that.) or eating half of your meal and saving the rest for later.
- Avoid all the fixin’s. A salad is no longer “healthy” if you top it with fried cubes of bread, massive chards of cheese and douse it in a river or ranch or any other dressing filled with copious amounts of sugar and fat. Additionally, while a simple potato isn’t the worst thing you can have, it goes from a lackluster food choice to a death ball when you drench it in butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese sauce.
- Dine in this year. Whether you’re dateless or not, dining in is a great way to save some cash, calories and spare yourself the chaos of crowds. Try cooking something new for a fun evening in with your beau, or your BFF if you don’t have a date. Make bacon wrapped figs, sushi rolls, spend the evening chatting over a fondue pot, or make chocolate covered strawberries together. If bacon and chocolate are involved, it can’t be that bad! If it’s a culinary fail, you will have at least shared a lot of giggles and created a memory you just wouldn’t get at a restaurant.