Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is intricately connected with the indulgence of sugar, chocolate and alcohol, three of the most destructive substances one can consume, especially when they are trying to overcome many health conditions like sugar and carb addiction, compulsive overeating, depression, anxiety disorders, adrenal fatigue, Candida overgrowth or other microbial infections, autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and much more.
Once you’ve made the transition to healthy Paleo eating and have a strong foundation to stand on, you won’t be so easily influenced by these temptations, but if you’re new to a sugar-free diet, the pressure from social conditioning and impairment in brain chemistry and the endocrine system can make it difficult to resist.
Although the world won’t come to an end if you succumb for just one day, the problem is that it is very difficult for most people to get back on track, and one day turns into one week, two months or even a year. When you feed a sugar, chocolate, or alcohol craving, it becomes bigger, more powerful and difficult to reign back in, because the consumption of these substances incites cravings for more. It is throwing fuel on the fire. Additionally, the price you pay in symptoms is really not worth a few moments of satisfaction.
Furthermore, the development of new and healthier eating habits requires consistency and repetition. Therefore, you are better off in the long run if you begin to build new holiday traditions that do not include the use of sugar, chocolate or alcohol.
It’s really sad that our society programs us to believe that one of the best ways to express our love is to shower our beloved with poisons that will destroy their mental and physical health. There are much better ways to show someone that we love them, and here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Begin by reminding yourself that the true meaning of Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the love you share with your significant other, friend, child, sibling, parent and yourself, not about sugar, chocolate and alcohol. Design your celebration so that it focuses on the relationship, not on food and drink. Spend quality time together and express how you feel verbally. There is nothing more powerful than the simple words, I Love You, followed by an authentic hug.
You can take a walk together or go on a hike in the park, watch a movie, go to the mall or bookstore, make arts and crafts in the kitchen, give or get a massage, visit the playground or arcade, play darts, Uno, Yahtzee or another game. When my son was a child, we would make our own Valentine’s Day cards each year out of construction paper and crayons; it was great fun and the cards were much more meaningful.
Be sure that all your loved ones know that you are committed to healthy eating and that it doesn’t involve the consumption of sugar, alcohol, and chocolate. Make it clear that you no longer desire to receive these kinds of gifts. Jewelry, books, a beautiful piece of art, knickknacks, organic flowers or plants, or even a helping hand with the chores can all make a fantastic replacement.
Instead of a box of chocolates, you can give or receive cherries drizzled with almond butter, dates stuffed with almonds, strawberries dipped in walnut butter and sprinkled with coconut flakes. It’s really easy to make a wide variety of candy-like treats with coconut butter and your favorite nut butter and a spice like cinnamon or vanilla. Just let the coconut butter sit at room temperature to get soft and then mix it with a little of your preferred nut butter and spice, stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to stiffen up a bit, take out and form it into the shape of a heart and stick it back in the freezer until it hardens. I really like macadamia butter with a dash of lemon and coconut butter. Almond butter, cinnamon and coconut butter are great too. You can experiment and find one that you and your family will love. You can sprinkle the heart with raisins, shredded coconut, or fruit pieces for decoration.
Don’t have time to invest in making your own healthy treats, trail mix will always do; and a company called Blue Mountain Organics has three delicious flavors (pecan, tropical, and ginger) of a product called Love Bites. Love Bites are a mixture of fruit, nuts and spices with no added sweeteners; and all their nuts are sprouted.
If you want to simulate a chocolate experience, you can use carob instead. Although carob is a legume, which means it contains anti-nutrients and a fair amount of carbs, and should not be used on a daily basis, it is okay for an occasional cheat and a much better choice than chocolate. Be sure to use roasted carob, since cooking legumes reduces some of their anti-nutrients. I have two different carob fudge recipes and you can find one here and the other one here. My almond thumbprint cookies would work just as well too.
Be sure to take some of these treats with you throughout the day, if you think you will be tempted at work or other social situations. Make sure that co-workers are aware that you don’t eat sugar, chocolate, etc., as well. Don’t be ashamed to stand for healthy eating. Be proud.
Don’t feel guilty for restricting sugar and chocolate from your children in your home. You can’t control what goes on in other situations, but you can and should control what takes place in your own home. Your home should be a sugar-free zone even on the holidays. Protecting the health of your children and teaching them how to make good food choices is one of the most loving acts you can provide as a parent.
If you go out to eat, then it is easy enough to choose items on the menu that won’t completely derail you (meat and low-starch vegetables) and simply skip the sugared up, chocolaty desserts and alcoholic beverages. You can have dessert at home or take something you made at home with you. Alternatively, you can cook a Paleo approved meal in your own kitchen.
There is no reason you can’t, or shouldn’t, celebrate the love for your self in the same manner. You deserve it! If you are celebrating Valentine’s Day alone, then everything on this page still applies. Be your own Valentine.
A large part of being successful in remaining committed to a healthy, sugar-free diet includes changing the way we think about food and celebrations. Valentine’s Day or any other holiday does not have to include sugar, chocolate or alcohol to be enjoyable, fun and memorable.
Hope your Valentine’s day is lovely and sugar-free!