How to ditch sugar this Valentine’s Day

By Jason Fung, MD

The intention of Valentine’s Day is to show the people you love just how much you care. It’s in our nature to show appreciation for one another through food. It’s practically ingrained in our DNA. Throughout history being part of a community was critical for human survival, and one of the primary ways we formed relationships was through sharing a meal.

When new to a low carb or fasting lifestyle, we struggle to figure out how to connect with our loved ones in non-food related ways too. This isn’t exclusive to holidays like Valentine’s Day or our birthday.

Now some people will choose to indulge this week, and that’s perfectly OK! You may indulge a little or a lot. You know you’ll feel a little bloated after but you’re fine with that. You’ll get right back on track with clean eating and fasting right away. But it’s a lot more complicated for some of us, especially those trying to avoid the sugary temptations.

So, how do we show our appreciation and ask others to show us appreciation without being bombarded with milky chocolates and pastries? Below are some of our top suggestions for making it through this chocolate filled holiday without any regret.

1. Connect with loved ones over other activities

This is easier said than done in many cases but you’ll never know until you try. If you’re planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day with special people, then let them know how hard you’re working on your diet. It pays to be honest with people, especially those who care about you. See if they’re willing to meet you halfway if you’re looking to try a new tradition this year.

There are many ways to connect with people you care about other than with food:

  • Go for a nice walk or a hike in an area you don’t go to very often
  • Take a class together and learn a new skill (my husband and I took a pottery class together)
  • Check out an exhibit at a local museum or art gallery
  • Go to a nice cafe for an exotic coffee or tea and enjoy the ambiance of the venue

Here are some of our gift ideas for someone trying to avoid treats:

  • A new puzzle you can put together with each other over a nice cup of tea 
  • Pick up an old or new board game and reconnect while having fun

2. Change things up during dessert time

If you’ve been following a fasting and clean eating lifestyle for awhile, you’ve probably discovered sugar-free foods you love just as much as you love a big slice of chocolate cake. Substitute desserts for these healthier options come dessert time and enjoy your meal without any guilt.  

Here are some suggestions for dessert whether you’re eating out or at home:

  • Order a cheese or charcuterie board instead of the cake
  • Select a special cut of steak you normally would splurge on and have a dessert steak after your main course (we ordered 4 oz of Japanese A5 wagyu on our anniversary for dessert this year)
  • Buy some dark chocolate (85%+ cocoa) and bring it with you to sneak in a couple of pieces with your tea or coffee
  • Make a treat like full-fat whipped cream and berries to eat when you get home

3. Make treat alternatives

It’s usually best to avoid the natural sweeteners and the sugar alcohols if you’re trying to lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels, but there’s no reason why you can’t indulge on special occasions. If you’re someone who really struggles during this holiday because you have a sweet tooth, then it might be better to make your own treats at home. Check out a keto cookbook from your local library or look up some low carb dessert recipes online and have a little fun!

You can never go wrong dipping some fresh strawberries in dark chocolate!

4. Avoid the leftovers 

Your kids bring home goodie bags from school full of candies and chocolates. And not just your kids. Your work colleagues’ kids too. What happens? Your associates bring their leftovers to work. You’re bombarded with sugar everywhere you turn! What can you do to protect yourself?

I struggled with this too at first and ended up stuffing my face with chocolate, feeling like garbage, and beating myself up for a few days. But then I realized I’m only human. It’s ridiculous to expect myself to fast and resist snacking when I’m bombarded by treats that until recently I ate and enjoyed without thinking twice, especially so soon after adopting an entirely new dietary lifestyle.  

What did I do? I made substitutes to bring to work or have at home during these occasions where I knew I would be enticed by temptation. I set proper expectations I wouldn’t lose weight, but wouldn’t gain weight either during this time. I made peace with that.

I went from substituting the real treats with keto versions of them. Eventually, I got sick of the sweeteners and my taste buds changed. I switched to other items like macadamia nuts, olives, pickles, and meats.  

One Valentine’s Day I cooked myself two pounds of high quality, sugar-free bacon. I put it in a container and brought it to work with me the next day. (I will eat bacon at any temperature and it always tastes good!) Every time I was tempted by a truffle, brownie or sugary heart candy, I went for a piece of bacon. I didn’t bloat. I didn’t feel like garbage. I didn’t lose weight, but I didn’t gain any either.  

5. Manage peer pressure effectively 

At the end of the day you have to prioritize your health. A loved one or colleague may be upset you didn’t eat the brownie they made, but they’ll get over it if you’re not rude. And there’s no need to be mean or rude either. They may ask you several times and say, “it’s just one day,” but let them know you’re making good progress on reaching your goals. Remind them you’re fortunate to have so many celebrations coming up and if you eat a brownie at each of them then you’d end up eating a giant tray by the end of the month every month.  

Here are some strategies to try to avoid peer pressure during holidays:

  • Talk to your loved ones and colleagues a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day and let them know you’re making great progress and don’t want the holiday to derail you
  • Tell them your next goal, i.e. losing 15 pounds by spring break to go on vacation, so they can cheer you on!
  • Let them know how they can show you appreciation instead by suggesting alternatives, such as cheese, nuts, meat, vegetables, berries, and dark chocolate

Megan Ramos, TFM Co-Founder



By The Fasting Method

For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.


Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

Share this article with a friend

More articles you might enjoy…