How to Choose Heart Healthy Take Out for Your Valentine

Valentines Day usually means 3 things . . . overpriced cards, lots of chocolate, and an unusually decadent meal.

I’m wondering though, if we are showering those we care about with affection, don’t we also want to keep them around for awhile. And the truth is that the Valentine’s day staples – foods that are high in sugar, salt, and inflammatory fats – can ultimately be raising their heart attack risk

In fact, researchers presenting at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions reported that an usually heavy restaurant meal may increase the risk of heart attack by as much as four times within the two hours after eating. This is not the way we want to end our Valentines Day!

What do we need for a heart healthy meal? Fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, healthy fats, and appropriate portion sizes.

The good news is, this is 100% possible with a little planning and strategic ordering.

Since many of us will be choosing pick up instead of dining in this year, we have some suggestions for ordering heart health take out for your Valentine.

  1. Check the Menus Early

    Your favorite restaurant may have a fixed holiday menu or limited take out options this weekend. Check now to be sure your favorite healthy options will still be on the men.

  2. Look for Words Describing How a Dish is Cooked

    Heart healthy options will be described as baked, steamed, roasted, or grilled. Avoid dishes described as deep fried, extra crispy, creamed, or stuffed.

  3. Skip the Bread Bowl or Basket of Chips

    A great thing about take out is that you can opt out of the bread bowl or chips that are so hard to resist when they are sitting on the table. These are void of heart healthy nutrients that our body needs.

  4. Make the Main a Protein

    Choose a main dish in a protein category such as roasted chicken, broiled fish, grilled beef tenderloin or lamb. Protein will help you feel full and satisfied.

  5. Choose Vegetable Sides

    Choose colorful grilled or steamed vegetables or salad side dishes. These will provide you heart healthy phytonutrients and fiber which is not present in colorless French fries, white rice, or pasta.

  6. Skip the Dairy

    Dairy has nutritional value, but a takeout meal loaded with dairy can do more harm than good. It is going to add a significant calorie load, saturated fats, and inflammation for many people.

  7. Ask for Sauces and Dressing on the Side

    Béarnaise, Hollandaise, cream or butter sauces, vinaigrettes, and dressings are generally loaded with dairy, inflammatory fats, and even sugar. Ask for them on the side so you can add just enough to add flavor to your dish but your food not to be swimming in it.

  8. Skip the Take Out Dessert

    Another benefit to take out is being able to make a dessert decision when you are less tempted. You save both money and calories by skipping the upsell of dessert. Instead, enjoy a homemade sweet treat that includes dark chocolate or berries – both rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help boost heart health.

Now that you are armed with 8 heart healthy tips for ordering take out, I have one more tip. Order your food earlier in the day when your will power is high and never when you are hungry. We all make better food choices this way.

That’s another benefit to take out. We can decide ahead of time what will both taste good and be good for our bodies ahead of time. We avoid the temptation of restaurant smells, lower willpower in the evening, and ravenous hunger creeping in.

You can enjoy your Valentines celebration and include food and keep it healthy.

Are you interested in a holistic approach to improve your heart health, bring down your cholesterol or triglycerides, decrease inflammation, or help address the underlying cause of health concerns? Click the link below to find out how health coaching could help you take the next best step in your journey.