Celebrate Love, Not Sugar on Valentine's Day

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Is anyone else amazed how quickly the biggest Hallmark holiday—Valentine's Day—comes on the heels of Christmas? Just when we start to get used to writing 2019 on checks and documents, it’s time to prepare treats for your kids class parties and perhaps plan something nice for your special someone. And it often involves sugar! 

Yes, all over the grocery stores there are flowers and chocolates, the expected gifts for “V” day. For years we helped and watched as our daughter, Claire, shared candies, lollipops and little cards with her classmates, and we always spend Valentine’s Day at home. My husband, Dave and I do not believe in spending more money for a dinner that would cost less on all other nights of the year. Most importantly we have enjoyed spending it with Claire and Shiro (our Samoyed), both of whom are loves of our lives! 

Instead of another box of chocolates (fancy or not fancy), here are some other ways you can celebrate your loved ones this Valentine's Day: 

  • Use heart-shaped pancake molds to make a special pancake breakfast. Top with sliced strawberries and raspberries, and to make it even more exciting, add a little whipped cream. 
  • Make heart-shaped fruit on skewers. Cut out honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries into heart shapes to serve with meals. 
  • Make heart shaped toast and sprinkle a little cinnamon powder and butter.
  • Serve dinner in a heart shaped casserole dish or serving dish, bowls, plates, etc.
  • Enjoy a few pieces of high-quality gourmet dark chocolate or splurge on chocolate cake.
  • Try Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips with Boars Head Dark Chocolate Dessert Hummus. Also great for dipping strawberries! 
  • Make a fruit salad with red fruits: strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, watermelon, red grapes, blood orange, red apples, etc. 
  • Eat red vegetables: red cabbage, red bell pepper, tomatoes, beets, etc. 
  • WRITE LOVE NOTES to each other, to your children, and leave NOTES all over the house. 
  • On our second anniversary, Dave got me 2 dozen roses, and on every single stem there was a golden label describing a reason why he loved me—all 24 of them! 
  • Play and listen to your favorite LOVE SONGS! (I had to introduce Dave and Claire to Tevin Campbell, circa 1998 (“Tell Me What You Want Me To Do”), and many more from my very younger days! 
  • Yes, flowers are great—for women it’s a must and for children, too! Touch, smell and decorate with flowers. 
  • Buy loose rose petals, run a bubble bath and sprinkle petals all over. Little girls especially love being treated like a princess—an inexpensive home “spa!” (Yes, cleanup is a bit of work.) 


A single piece of chocolate (truffle) can have 80-100 calories, up to 8 grams of sugar (2 teaspoon equivalent), and 4.5 grams of total fat. Sugar tastes great, and chocolate makes most of us feel really awesome while eating it! It’s really tough to stop at one single piece. But on this special day, enjoy and indulge away if you must. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) published a Scientific Statement on “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health in 2009, in which it recommended no more than 100 calories for women and no more than 150 calories for men of added sugar. These calories are equivalent to about 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar per day, or 25-37.5 grams per 24-hour period. 

In 2016 the AHA defined that children and teens (ages 2-18) should have less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and no more than 8oz of sugary beverages per week! Each day in my clinic, when I ask a parent how much juice or non-water sugary beverages their preschool or school aged children drink, the answer is most often 2-3 cups per day, at least 6 ounces each. Please remember an 8 oz apple juice box, or glass of apple juice, can contain as much as 26-28 grams of sugar (7 teaspoons)! Based on the guideline, after a glass of apple juice, children between ages 2-18 should not have ANY MORE sugar! Imagine that! (That means for that day the child should have no yogurt, Go-Gurt, candy, cereal, ice cream, cake, cookies, fruit snacks, pudding cups, gummy candies, etc. 


Enjoy sweets with your loved ones, but remember that we are celebrating LOVE, not sugar, and by celebrating our lives with our loved ones in ways that support health, we will live and love longer, hopefully free from disease and medications.

Make a healthy meal together, and if you do go out to dinner, talk about how, as a family, everyone can celebrate their love for one another in ways that do not depend on food or sugar. 

May you not waste a single calorie, sugar or fat on bad chocolate. 


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