Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Don't Let Food Take Control of Your Valentine's Day

Registered Dietitian Shares How to Stay on Track

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Valentine’s Day has turned into a day of indulgences. Whether swimming in the eyes of the one you love over a luscious dinner or drowning your loneliness in a box of chocolates, Valentine’s Day can be a big road bump on your path to better health and fitness.

“Valentine’s Day stirs up lots of emotions and anxiety,” said Cristina Harder, a registered, licensed dietitian. “But there are ways you can keep yourself in check and still make it through the holiday without ruining your healthy eating plan.”
Harder suggests a few ways to stay on track on Valentine’s Day.

  • First, try not to make Valentine’s Day about food or candy.  Instead, focus on the people you love. Harder recommends spending time on activities to show how you care.  Start by sending valentines to the loved ones in your life.  You might also consider volunteering at a local animal shelter, food pantry or other local organization as a healthy way to share your caring spirit. “Focus on spending quality time with your friends and loved ones instead of food and candy. Trying a new activity together is a great way to share time with family and friends,” Harder said.
  • Cooking a meal at home instead of dining out can relieve the frustrations that come with crowded restaurants and save you money.  It also allows you to control portion sizes and calories.
  • Finally, burn some extra calories by being active on Valentine’s Day.  Regardless of your relationship status, physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins, which will lighten your spirits. Whether enjoying a group fitness class or a workout on your own, adding physical activity to your Valentine’s Day is the way to go.

In one hour a person can burn approximately:

  • 200 calories walking, ballroom dancing or bowling
  • 500 calories playing racquetball
  • 600 calories playing tennis

However, sometimes the desire for conversation hearts and chocolates can be hard to resist.

“If you really want to enjoy Valentine’s Day candy have smaller portions,” Harder said.

“The following only have 100 calories. They will satisfy a sweet tooth without killing a diet."

  • 5 Hershey’s Kisses
  • 30 plain M&Ms
  • 3 Dove Dark Chocolate Hearts

“If you overindulge, just get back on track as soon as you can. A minor dietary mishap is only a bump in the road and should not derail your efforts,” Harder said.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at epolsley@lumc.edu or call (708) 216- 5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.