With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I anticipate that the readers of the Homefront United Network will be flooded with inspirational and heartwarming articles about military romance. Based on this website’s track record, those articles will be AWESOME. Please read them and share them.
However, this article will not be about the military or romance for two reasons:
1. My wife and I are civilians.
2. According to her, I’m an unromantic dork. (she’s right, I am)
I planned on writing an article about how stress negatively affects the heart based on research I’ve recently read. Things like:
STRESS AFFECTS HEART RATE VARIABILITY (HRV)
PTSD INCREASES RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE BY 50%
But that would be lame and boring. In fact, it probably would have been the most lame and boring article about Valentine’s Day EVER. We’ll talk about those topics in the future because the research is actually quite compelling. But for now, let’s talk about some “Healthy Valentine’s Day Tweaks.”
EXERCISE: Before your big night out, work out! Instead of “Dinner and a Movie” make it “Hit the Gym, Dinner and a Movie.” Exercise not only puts you in a better mood, it will lessen the guilt of eating whatever it is you’re going to be eating for dessert. HELPFUL HINT: Leave time to shower and get pretty before dinner. Pit stains and sweat-streaked makeup isn’t the look you should go for on Valentine’s day.
Speaking of dessert…
EAT CHOCOLATE: If you are dining out, your server will encourage you to order things with names like “The Most Decadent Dreamiest Dessert Ever” or “The Chocolate Lover’s Ultimate Lava Mudslide Explosion.” Those things are fine in moderation, but there actually IS a dessert choice that’s healthy. Chocolate. The darker the better. Dark chocolate is a very powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect blood vessels and the heart from oxidative stress and inflammation. (P.S. strawberries also contain antioxidants.) Dark chocolate covered strawberries anyone?
EAT LOCAL: National restaurant franchises like the Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Red Lobster are extremely busy on Valentine’s Day. You might spend more time thinking “When is this ‘coaster thingy’ going to start flashing?” than time spent in actual conversation. This year, try something different. Find a locally owned restaurant that serves locally grown, organic food. They might not exist in smaller communities, but in larger cities? They’re out there, you just have to do some digging. There are definite benefits to dining at local establishments:
1. There’s usually less wait time.
2. They’re usually less crowded and quieter. (IMPORTANT if you or your significant other suffers from PTSD)
3. Locally grown, organic food isn’t toxic and stressful to the systems of people with depression, anxiety and PTSD. In fact, it can be VERY therapeutic.
BE CREATIVE: About a month ago, after extensive research into the topic, my wife decided that she was going to eat as ‘vegan’ as possible. FYI: Vegan means no animal-based products. FYI: Almost EVERYTHING in the supermarket contains animal-based products. FYI: If your significant other wants to avoid animal-based products, that means you’re going to have to as well, especially if you’re the household’s main cook.
I’m not saying that everyone should go Vegan, I’m just saying that everyone should do what we did yesterday at least once:
1. We chose a recipe.
2. We went shopping for the ingredients TOGETHER.
3. We cooked the meal TOGETHER.
4. We ate the meal TOGETHER.
It was one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve both had in recent memory (even though it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, it FELT like it). It certainly beat waiting 90 minutes for the coaster thingy to tell us our table is ready…
If you have any creative tweaks and tips to make Valentine’s Day healthier and/or more enjoyable let us know! Share them in the comments section below. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!