February 14th is the day when candy, cards, flowers and gifts are exchanged between close friends and loved ones in the name of St. Valentine. This centuries-old holiday is veiled by many myths. One legend tells of how a cleric named Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II, who felt single men made better Roman soldiers than married ones. Sadly, Valentine was trapped secretly marrying romantic couples and was then sentenced to death. Tragic yet romantic…
This Valentine’s Day, why not put together a gift basket filled with healthy love bites?
- Select dark chocolate (cacao) which contains at least 70-85% cacao? The darker the chocolate the higher the flavonoid percent. Dark chocolates are loaded with minerals, vitamins and antioxidant flavonoids—found by researchers to have a positive impact on your cardiovascular health. Examples are Hershey’s, Nestle’s, Chocolove XOXOX Extra Strong Dark, and Green & Black’s Dark. Types of dark chocolates include imported SWISS (higher in calories, saturated fats and cocoa butter), NATURAL (such as Dagoba and Xocai) which preserve much of the flavonoid content and ENCHANCED which add the nutritional benefits of honey, nuts and fruits. However, with enhanced bars, read labels for higher caloric content.
- Chose sugar free candies to add to your basket. Sugar free does not mean calorie free, as they contain aspartame. This sugar substitute cannot be digested and leaves calories behind. See’s, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are places to find sugar free candies.
- Grab a handful of healthy lollipops. Go for low or sugar free varieties For instance, sugar saturated lollipops contain about 60 calories each. But, sugar free treats, such as Lolly Lites, only have 16 calories a piece and Sorbee’s Sugar Free Lollipops only have about 35 calories each. For adults, Chili Lix pepper-shaped-sugar-free pops contain both cinnamon and hot chili pepper. They have few calories and the capsaicin in peppers has a thermogenic effect—which helps you to burn fat.
Your gift basket is now complete! Here are tips for that special person on how to eat candy without ruining their diet. First, use portion control. Consume only a few bite-sized pieces and break up a chocolate bar—so you do not gobble all of it in one evening. Next, select hard candies, especially those which are sugar free—which can dissolve slowly in your mouth. Scheduling is another suggestion. Keep your love bites waiting for you until the end of the day, instead of eating them at lunch time. Finally, the key to enjoying all kinds of candy and losing weight is to exercise more—or at least 10-15 minutes extra per day—if you love candy. Don’t forget to sprinkle all those treats with SENSA to help you eat less overall!
St. Valentine, if you are listening up there, did you know that dark chocolate contains many elements which also affect a person’s judgment and mood—like phenylethylamine (PEA)? This is the same substance which stimulates the brain to release endorphins making couples feel happier and as if they are falling in love. Were your efforts to marry them for not? No, when it comes to love, it’s usually worth the risk. I hope you have a wonderful, love filled St. Valentine’s Day!
In Good Health,
Media Nutritionist,Dietitian & Host
Follow me on twitter @lisadefazioMSRD