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Tips for a healthy Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2015
Katherine Donahue , MOV Parent

Hearts, hugs, laughter and smiles are all around us on Valentine's Day.

Unfortunately, excessive sugary treats and sedentary activities are often part of the celebration as well. Excessive sugar consumption can have lasting effects on your child's health, such as tooth decay, obesity and diseases such as diabetes.

Also, despite all of the fun-loving festivities, we may unfortunately see children experience disappointment if friends or classmates are exclusive with passing out valentines.

This year, try some of the following tips to promote a safe, healthy and happy holiday that you and your family are able to enjoy!

Cut down on candy - Create Valentine's day treats that incorporate items such as stickers, pencils, bubbles, lip balm, or other party favors instead of candy to reduce sugar intake.

Share the love - To promote mental health, encourage children to give valentines to everyone so that no is left out of the fun. Have a conversation with children about the importance of including others and how to react when others are not as inclusive.

If you would like to offer a class snack, try festive bags of fresh berries. Red and purple fruits fit perfectly with the Valentines color scheme. Red or pink sugar free Jell-o and low-fat strawberry yogurt can be served with fruit or standalone. You could even try Greek yogurt for an extra boost of protein!

Keep kids with allergies safe - try this simple recipe for a twist on classic Rice Krispy treats. They are a healthier alternative to candy and are allergen free so everyone can enjoy this sweet treat!


6 cups Gluten Free Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup honey

Festive sprinkles


Melt honey in large pot over medium-low heat until smooth (around 2-3 minutes).

Remove from heat. Add rice cereal and sprinkles (as many as you would like) and stir until mixture is thoroughly combined.

Press mixture into pan prepped with cooking spray. Chill in refrigerator to solidify.

Cut into squares (or hearts!) and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from

Encourage children to help out in the kitchen - Work together to create unique "love potion" smoothie recipes. Start with a liquid such as low fat milk or yogurt.

Dairy free alternatives like soy or almond milk can also be used. Be sure to include a variety of colorful fruit such as berries, bananas, appleswhatever you like! Blend with ice for a thicker consistency. Not only do smoothies taste great but they provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals that children (and adults!) need to stay healthy and strong.

Bonus points: Try adding veggies such as spinach and other greens to pack in extra nutrients without impacting flavor.

Promote heart healthy activities - Try jumping rope, turning on upbeat music for quick dance parties, or planning a relay race.

Embrace the holiday by spending quality time with loved ones - For physical wellbeing, plan family activities that get everyone moving. Promote self-confidence and healthy relationships by reminding children how special they are and how much they are loved! Kids will enjoy finding messages you stash around the house sharing what you love about them.

Katherine Donahue is an Ohio State University dietetic intern at Children's Hunger Alliance.



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