Valentine’s Day, Sugar, and Your Health

What is that feeling? Your heart is fluttering, and you’re in a state of giddy elation. Could it be that love is in the air? Perhaps, or it could just be you’re all hopped up on sugary sweets. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. You know, that amorous winter version of Halloween. It’s a time for people to show their loved one some affection, but also a time to satisfy that nagging sweet tooth.

How did candy get so wrapped up with Valentine’s Day? A waltz through the grocery store shows plenty of pink candy packaging, and heart shaped chocolates. Did the Feast of Saint Valentine really just start out as a candy binge?

Valentine’s Day didn’t start out as holiday where couples and classrooms exchange cards and candies. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the holiday was associated with romantic love, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that companies really started promoting the holiday by popularizing the trading of Valentine’s cards and copious amounts of sugar.

It’s great if you want to express your feelings in card, poem, or song, but it’s the sugar that can steer you wrong. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can lead to weight gain and type two diabetes. Sugar has no nutritional benefits, and it can damage your teeth. A little sugar every now and then is OK, but too much sugar can be dangerous for your health.

Here’s what you want to avoid on Valentine’s Day:

  • The Godiva chocolate company makes a 105-piece box of chocolate.
  • Hershey makes a 5 pound chocolate bar.
  • Personalized 10 pound bags of M&Ms.
  • A Giant 7-ounce Hershey’s Kiss.

Instead of the traditional sugary Valentine’s treats, why not try some healthier alternatives? You don’t have to give your Valentine celery and a rice cake, but it doesn’t have to be a sugar-coated stick of sugar either.

  • Try dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) instead of milk chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can provide health benefits.
  • Instead of super rich and decadent chocolate cake, try a pie or cobbler made with fruit.
  • Some alternatives might seem healthier, but that’s not always the case. Sorbet, for example, might seem healthier than ice cream because it’s made with fruit, but sorbet usually has buckets of sugar. Instead, try plain Greek yogurt topped with granola and fruit.

In fact, the sweets you offer your sweetie don’t have to be food at all. Think about flowers, a movie to watch together, or a romantic hug and kiss.