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Fourteen Ways to Love

February 1, 2017

By Joanne Gardner, MS, RDN, LDN

We are frequently besieged by messages that encourage us to express love with food. During the month of February, the messenger often appears wrapped in foil. When we peel back the red, silver, or gold packaging, our senses tune in to the inviting promise that our worries will dissolve as the creamy, cocoa-based sweet melts in our mouth. Ah, the familiar bliss brought on by chocolate! Chocolate, for many, symbolizes love.

Let’s keep the chocolate in good company and add another 13 ways to express love for ourselves. Focus on one of each of these every day.

Think ahead

Take a few minutes today to develop meal and menu ideas. Is there a new recipe to try or has the slow cooker been idle for months? Include foods that support heart health like omega-3 fatty acid-rich wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, and walnuts.

Shop with a plan

Red and purple fruits and vegetables bring to mind warmth and love. Berries, red cabbage, radicchio, and tomatoes are great sources of antioxidants that provide heart health benefits.

Store properly

Oil becomes oxidized or rancid with exposure to light, heat, and air. Buy olive and other oils in small, opaque glass bottles and store them in a dark cupboard. Refrigeration can also extend shelf life.

Prepare with flavor

A sprinkle of oregano or thyme, a splash of high quality sesame or olive oil, and a grating of aged hard cheese takes the ordinary to extraordinary. Give your senses the pleasure they seek.

Pause before pouncing

The first three bites of any food pack the most punch. Take a moment to center and breathe before tasting the first forkful.

Tune in to feelings and reactions

Notice when eating is being used as an alternate activity to avoid an uncomfortable feeling, or when munching has become mindless. Observe, hesitate, and then choose to continue or shift.

Calm heartburn

Proper digestion depends on the presence of ample digestive acids and enzymes. Many minerals found in foods are co-factors in the digestive process. Try taking 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in 2 ounces of water before reaching for antacids.

Appreciate food with others

Plan an extra occasion to share a meal with special friends and family. Put your fork down and remark on the presentation and flavor. Let the experience linger.

Small changes impact health

Include extra servings of vegetables, legumes, and nuts at lunch and dinner. Eat more protein with breakfast and after a workout to stimulate muscle retention and growth.

Get up, get out, and move!

Exercise is one of the most loving actions we can offer to our body.

Choose beverages with benefits

Does your favorite sip register high in health-supportive antioxidants? Black coffee, as well as herbal, green, and black teas, contain these health-supportive antioxidants. Even a glass of red wine has its (additional) benefits by providing resveratrol, an antioxidant associated with promoting heart health.

If it makes a difference to your health, it matters to your heart

Being in good shape adds spice and zest to physical expressions of love.

Choose the best chocolate you can afford

Creative, artisanal chocolate offerings have expanded exponentially over the past couple of years. When you do eat a piece (or two), savor every sensation as it melts on the tongue, generating warmth and joy in the process. Ah, chocolate bliss accompanied by 13 actions of self-love.

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