Tips for a Heart Healthy Valentine’s DayValentine’s Day is a holiday associated with love notes, roses, romantic dinners and candy. Being that February is American Heart Month, it’s also important to encourage long-term lifestyle changes to keep the hearts in your family healthy. Valentine’s Day offers an opportunity to help children make a positive association with healthy choices and a healthy heart.

Here are some tips to encourage a healthy Valentine’s Day for both you and your children:

  • Kids can create their own personal Valentine’s Day cards for friends and family.
  • Instead of sending candy to your child’s school or daycare, consider mini boxes of raisins or pretzels, or even pencils, erasers or stickers.
  • Talk to your kids about activities that are heart healthy such as running, walking, skipping and dancing.
  • Discuss foods that promote a healthy heart such as water, fruits, veggies, whole grains & low-fat dairy.
  • Surprise your kid with a heart-healthy lunchbox note on festive paper.
  • Indulge in sweets with benefits. Instead of the standard box of milk chocolates, enjoy a few pieces of dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants.
  • Plan a healthy Valentine’s meal. Produce for Kids has tons of healthy, kid-friendly recipes, like these heart-shaped Flourless Berry Banana Pancakes, that would be perfect. Dessert can also be something simple but delicious such as fresh strawberries and low-fat whipped cream, topped with a few mini dark chocolate chips.
  • Check out the Produce for Kids Pinterest board or these Heart-Loving Valentine’s Day Ideas for more ideas.
  • If your son or daughter comes home from school with a bag of candy, let him or her enjoy it, but in moderation. I have found that if I completely restrict my daughter’s candy, she tends to want it more. Instead, I let her pick a few of her favorite pieces to enjoy that day, then give then give her a couple of pieces per day (only if she asks).

Center the holiday around family time by planning special activities together; quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. One of my family’s favorite Valentine’s Day activities is to go around the dinner table and say what we love about each member of our family. However, you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, make it heart healthy.