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By: Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Americans spend an average of 400 million dollars on candy the week before Valentine’s Day. Despite the temptation to indulge in sweets and romantic gestures, there are many ways to celebrate this occasion in a healthy and budget-friendly way. Whether planning to spend Valentine’s Day with a spouse, family or friends, keep in mind some of these practical and memorable activities.
· Cook A Meal: Though many people feel compelled to dine out on Valentine’s Day, the distracting, fast-paced experience can deter from meaningful interaction. What’s worse, restaurant servings tend to be two to four times larger than what’s recommended and contain 60 percent more calories than a homemade meal. Preparing a meal at home can save money, time and be an opportunity to bond with loved ones.
· Unplug and Reconnect: Everyone in the family, including mom and dad, could use a break from screen time throughout the day to have face-to-face conversations. Cell phones and other devices are demanding of time and attention, so make a point to celebrate each other without screens. Believe it or not, focusing attention on talking with a partner can relieve stress, improve communication and create a deeper understanding for one another. Reading a book together, sitting down for a meal, playing a board game or going for a walk are a few simple and fun ways to reconnect.
· Get in a Workout: Work up a sweat with a loved one this Valentine’s Day. Exercising with others increases motivation and makes the experience more enjoyable as both individuals decompress. Consider a sport or activity that neither person has done before, to enjoy a fresh and new experience together.
· Try Something New: This romantic holiday is the perfect opportunity to visit a new place or try a new activity. Explore local businesses, museums, gyms and community centers. Breaking the normal routine can spark creativity, build confidence and help create lasting memories with loved ones.
· Teach Each Other Something: Set aside time to share a passion, hobby or skill a spouse or loved one may not be familiar with. Learning from one another can be a special experience that brings people closer and improves communication through listening and learning. Over time, you can build on the tradition by learning something new together.
· Volunteer: Celebrate in a unique way by giving back. Research shows that doing work for the community, environment and other worthy causes can ignite an individual’s sense of purpose while reducing stress. Take some time to research nearby charities or community events related to a personal passion and spend a few hours helping others with loved one(s).
Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.