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What you probably aren’t anticipating is the extra five pounds that result from the office candy dish, the big box of
chocolate and the sumptuous four-course wine-and-dine rendezvous. The end of the year holidays aren’t the only
weight-gain culprits. Here are expert tips to avoid putting on the pounds this Valentine’s Day – or any other holiday.

Why is Valentine’s Day a diet nightmare?
The Day of Love, like most holidays, is centered on food, food and more food. According to family lifestyle therapist Amy
Hendel, author of Fat Families, Thin Families, women tend to gain weight because they are in the kitchen more, tasting
and preparing yummy treats, and the mindless, casual munching all day equals significant unaccounted-for calories.
Hendel adds, “Holidays can be stressful, so women tend to turn to food for stressful eating and comfort.”

Add the easy accessibility to food, from special cakes to constantly filled candy bowls, and you’ve got a recipe for diet
disaster. To make things worse, stress can raise a woman’s cortisol levels, which makes her more susceptible to
overeating. And if there are a lot of planning and preparations to be done for the big day, women often ignore the best
of health-conscious intentions. “Women will abandon even their entrenched routine exercising,” says Hendel, “because
[things] need to get done.” As if the ubiquitous Valentine’s Day goodies aren’t enough, the February holiday is during
the winter, when cold weather and less daylight can contribute to carb cravings and the winter condition called seasonal
affective disorder or SAD, also termed neurovegetative syndrome.
Tips to avoid Valentine’s Day weight gain
By no means does this mean you should dread Valentine’s Day or deprive yourself of the holiday’s food and enjoyment.
It just means being strategic in sticking to your healthy diet and exercise aims, even if they are temporarily abbreviated.
Here are some of Hendel’s top holiday health tips —
which are applicable all year-round, regardless of the holiday in question.

Walk, walk, walk
On the hunt for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your mate? Do it on foot. Hendel suggests, “Walk as much as
possible — walk to do your errands, park the car further away — just squeeze in moments of brisk activity.”

Tighten up your workouts
Have a big Valentine’s Day party or romantic dinner planned? “Don’t abandon your exercise — just tighten it up,” says
Hendel. “Do fewer minutes but turn up the intensity.” She also recommends simply doing your workouts at home — with
fitness DVDs or online fitness videos — so you save travel time to the gym.

Pre-determine your treats
This isn’t your first Valentine’s Day — you’re well aware of the decadent treats that await you. “So plan ahead of time
what portion-sized treats you will allow yourself and which you won’t this year,” Hendel says. “That pre-planning will add
some guilt’ if you start breaking the eating rules.” For example, eat one single piece of really good chocolate at work (or
at home) every day or save your indulging for your actual Valentine’s Day dinner date. And eat slowly, savoring every
delectable bite you take.

Take a romantic stroll
You’ve sat through a cocktail, appetizer, dinner and dessert. Help your food digest and burn a few extra calories by
going for a hand-in-hand stroll once the bill is paid. If possible, walk to and from your dining destination instead of

Here are some other fun, fit ways to spend Valentine’s Day >>
Use healthy substitutes

During the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, make sure you have healthy, balanced snacks on hand and choose
them instead. “Get to know some satisfying snacks like air-popped popcorn with flavored sprays, fat-free low-sugar
flavored lattes, diet hot cocoa (made with evaporated skim milk), apples and some dark chocolate or sugar-free caramel
dipping sauce, baked apples with cinnamon, veggies, and bean or hummus dip to name a few,” suggests Hendel.

Snack smart
If you are making your Valentine’s Day dinner for an at-home rendezvous, Hendel recommends using healthy
replacement or substitute ingredients. She says, “Try fruit puree instead of butter or oil in cake recipes, and switch out
oil and replace it with 100 percent Florida orange juice in marinades or for citrus salad dressing.” Additionally, choose
leaner cuts of meat, skinless poultry or seafood for your entree. Best yet, many aphrodisiacs are considered superfoods
and are quite inherently healthy.

Check out these 30 aphrodisiac foods and plan your romantic menu around them >>
Journal for your health
You have time to read the news and celebrity gossip, so that means you have time to write down or type up your eating
and exercise habits. Hendel recommends journaling what you eat and the exercise you do to hold yourself accountable.
Not only will you be less likely to scarf down that sixth chocolate truffle, you’ll also be less likely to forgo your noon spin

Wear form-fitting clothes

You know that form-fitting sweater dress with the chic wide belt? Wear it to work, wear it on your Valentine’s Day date,
wear it any time you may be faced with the opportunity to overindulge. “Wear belted clothes that make you aware when
you overeat,” Hendel advises, “It’s literally a physical barrier to overeating (if you don’t loosen the belt).”

Stay on track even if you slip
Keep a balanced diet in place and don’t allow one day of overeating to justify breaking loose and abandoning healthy
eating completely. “One day is not your downfall — it’s when you let it evolve into days of overeating that you’re in
trouble,” warns Hendel. That means if you feast on loads of fondue, toasted bread cubes and an entire bottle of wine on
Valentine’s Day, don’t let that shake your resolve so you continue to eat too much the day after and the day after that
and the day after that. Just get back on track with healthy eating and daily exercise.

Be prepared for emotional eating
Date stand you up? Getting over an ugly divorce? Perhaps this year’s Valentine’s Day is causing you serious distress —
don’t let it lead to diet destruction. “When you’re tempted to eat emotionally, have other options ready, like gum, hot tea
or a low-cal beverage, or an ongoing hobby,” says Hendel. Just think — you’ll feel so much better if you go on a 400-
calorie-burning hike than sitting on your couch inhaling 1,000 calories’ worth of chocolates.

Oops, you’ve put on the 5 pounds — now what?
Don’t despair. Hendel advises to first get rid of the tempting leftovers (bye-bye heart-shaped sugar cookies and cordial
cherries) and put the above tips back into practice. In addition, Hendel says, “agree that losing a pound to two pounds a
week is the most sensible way” to reach your goal. No extreme dieting or exercising — it only sets you up for burnout,
injury and bingeing. Need more motivation? “Buddy up with a friend to help keep each other on track and join a website
program that helps you track calories — accountability is a huge help,” she adds. Finally, Hendel suggests that you use
healthy meal plans and eat at home — as opposed to restaurants — so you can monitor your eating, portion sizes and
Story source...

Spice up your romance
First, make it hot! Studies show that spicy foods can raise your heart rate, cause flushing, and generally mimic some of
the effects of sexual stimulation. For centuries, chiles and other
heat-inducing ingredients have been added to love potions and other sensual aids to increase desire.

Aphrodisiac appeal
What’s a better aphrodisiac than showing someone that you love them enough to prepare deliciously healthy foods?
Pomegranates, those exotic fruits containing a multitude of sensual, fleshy seeds
inside a thick rind, not only offer the luscious crimson color but also come packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals
to keep you in top lovin’ form.

Quick-cooking is key
Brown rice offers all the benefits of a whole grain, and the parboiled “quick cooking” kinds make preparing it quick and
easy as all of these strategies will come to naught if you’re spending all
evening in the kitchen making supper instead of spooning morsels into each other’s mouths. And, come to think of it,
facing a train-wrecked kitchen after dinner can be a surefire mood killer as

Serve romantic recipes that are hot and healthy
Try this hot and spicy romantic recipe on your honey for Valentine’s Day. It’s sweetly spicy, inherently healthy, and
couldn’t be easier to prepare or clean up. Piri-Piri is an African term for hot
and spicy. Control the amount of fire by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper. This recipe is presented as mild-to-
medium heat. Happy lovin’!

Piri-Piri Pomegranate Chicken
Serves 2


1 cup parboiled brown rice

1 cup water or broth

2 to 3 pieces chicken

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Salt to taste

18 to 20 Brussels sprouts, trimmed with shallow “x” cut into stem end

1-1/2 cups baby carrots, halved

1 cup oyster mushrooms, sliced thickly

1/2 pomegranate, seeded

Fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray inside of 2-quart Dutch oven and lid with olive oil.

2. Pour rice into pot and add liquid. Stir gently to coat grains and smooth into an even layer. Set chicken pieces in next
in a single layer.

3. In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, honey, molasses, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne pepper. Drizzle 1/2 mixture
over top of chicken. Drop in Brussels sprouts and carrots. Pour rest of
mixture over all. Top with mushrooms and pomegranate seeds.

4. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes, or about 3 minutes after the aroma wafts from the oven.


You can use any combination of boneless, bone-in, skinless, or skin-on chicken pieces in this recipe.

Look for pomegranate molasses in specialty or health food groceries.