A Valentine for Every Diet

Valentine's Day can be an incredibly indulgent holiday. Many sweethearts feast on a delicious — yet high-caloric — dinner. Or, splurge on decadent chocolates. For some, dietary restrictions prevent or restrict the ability to enjoy the simplest of treats. Others may want to celebrate, but are looking for ways to eat sweets without all those unnecessary additives and extra sugar.

Here are some of my tips for those looking to enjoy Valentine's Day while eating healthy or accommodating a food allergy or sensitivity.

Bake for Yourself Instead of Ordering Dessert Out

If you're on a gluten-free or vegan diet, sometimes baking for yourself is truly the healthiest option. Good news: there are lots of options on the market now that are enjoyable for alternative diets. You can bake desserts made with ingredients like ancient grains (a celebrity favorite) such as teff, millet or quinoa. I really like this Gluten-Free Chocolate Passion Fruit Tart recipe from Zemas Madhouse Foods.

Check Labels for Healthier Ingredients

Just because something says it is "sugar-free" or "low-sodium" does not make it healthy. Closely read the ingredients to be sure you are using unrefined sweeteners. In baked goods, look for organic brown rice or alternatives, like ancient grains, which are inherently good for you.

Consider Sending or Asking for a Fruit Bouquet Instead of Chocolate

Keeping healthy snacking options around the house is a great way to avoid empty calories when eating. Fresh fruit can also be turned into smoothies or dipped in a coconut cream for more treat options!

Plan Ahead

If you are going to a party, offer to bring your own dish so you have a healthy option that is allergy-friendly. Or, try eating a small meal before you go if you know the food won't fit within your diet. If you are going to a restaurant, call ahead to be sure they are accommodating to your dietary needs.

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Karen Raden
Karen Raden, MS, RD, CCN, is a registered dietitian and certified clinical nutritionist with a master's of nutrition degree. Read her blog at KarenRaden.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.