As parents and teachers already know, Valentine’s Day is not just for romance; it’s also a fun day for kids. Giving and receiving Valentines, plenty of candy and other treats, and classroom parties have become part of our culture, and a day that children of all ages look forward to. I still remember the special Valentine cake that my mother made for our family every year, along with the treats that my classmates’ moms would send in for our annual classroom party. My parents would give my brother and me candy and other little gifts. It was a fun day all around, but much of it centered on eating.
I’m not advocating eliminating treats for kids (or adults) on Valentine’s Day or any other holiday; I believe that learning to enjoy candy and desserts in moderation is a life skill. However, Valentine’s Day offers us a unique opportunity to teach our children about heart health through nutrition and exercise in a fun way. After all, the heart is already the star of Valentine’s Day!
Let’s teach our kids that it’s possible to enjoy food, have fun, and be healthy all at the same time. Below are a few suggestions on how you can incorporate heart health education into your Valentine’s Day celebration.
Talk to your children about balancing treats with healthier choices and offer both at school parties and at home. Some fun yet healthy options include the following.
Valentine’s Day fruit and veggies: Apples, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, watermelon, tomatoes, and peppers all meet the qualifications for a healthy Valentine themed fruit and vegetable tray. Squeeze it in between the cookies and cupcakes on a Valentine tray and there are sure to be a few takers.
Chocolate dipped fruit: Even just a small dip or drizzle of chocolate on fruit makes it a special Valentine Day treat. You can do the same with pretzels. Your kids will think it’s decadent, but you’ll know it’s a healthy option.
Heart shaped cheese tray: Reduced fat deli cheese offers calcium and protein without as much fat as regular cheese. Buy slices of American, provolone, or cheddar and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make “cheese hearts.”
Educate kids about the importance of exercise for a healthy heart, and offer some extra playtime as a treat on Valentine’s Day. Here in New Hampshire it isn’t always easy to get outside to play in February, but some indoor aerobic activities are listed below.
With a little imagination, you can enjoy a delicious, fun, and healthy Valentine’s Day!
Kelly McIntire is a children’s author who believes that magic and adventure should begin in childhood and last a lifetime. Her books include Time Twistedand Adventures in Fairy Meadow.
Visit her website at www.kellymcintireonline.com for more information, or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kellymcintirewriter/?ref=bookmarks