Healthy Valentine’s Day

Doting grandmothers, school parties, and showing love with Valentine’s candy make it hard to focus on healthy choices for kids when February 14th roles around. For adults, Valentine’s Day might be a holiday that’s dedicated to showing love, affection, and admiration, but for kids it is a holiday dedicated to giving and receiving candy and sweets. As a parent you don’t want to deprive your children of the joy and celebration of the holiday, but at the same time you don’t want to add a mountain of whipped cream and a sugar coated cherry on top of the copious amounts of sugar that your kids will inevitably receive. So how can you make Valentine’s Day healthier for kids?

You don’t have to pass out the celery sticks, lock the doors, board the windows, and wait until Valentine’s Day is over to stay healthy on Valentine’s Day. Excessive amounts of sugar can lead to health problems. It can affect your heart, your weight, your blood glucose, and many other areas of the body. But eating a pound of sugar is not a requirement on Valentine’s Day.

Consuming sugar in moderation and looking for alternatives to unhealthy sweets can make your Valentine’s Day healthy and enjoyable. Opt for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Try a low sugar yogurt (they do exist) with freshly cut fruit or granola instead of ice cream. Bake a batch of healthy and delicious muffins instead of cupcakes topped with icing. Fruit is sweet and tasty, and a much healthier option than a box of bonbons.

Help kids feel the excitement of the holiday by using simple decorations to make your less-sweet treats festive. Serve a pink fruit smoothie and a bran muffin with bright red cranberries on a table strewn with paper hearts for breakfast and enjoy a spaghetti dinner with a bouquet of red carnations on the table while playing “That’s Amore” on your iPhone!.

Of course, there are other ways to celebrate the holiday that do not focus on food. Write your little Valentines a poem, or a heart felt note, telling them just how much they mean to you. Draw them a picture, give them a hug, or send them on a Valentine’s Day themed scavenger hunt.

We live in a world of 5-pound chocolate bars and gummy bears the size of a human head. 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and that’s just in the United States. It may seem as though staying healthy and enjoying the holiday are incompatible, but that’s just not the case. Try healthy alternatives and leave those over-sized confections on the shelf.