Valentine’s Day is a day you should figuratively (and literally) take to heart. Speaking of hearts, there are a lot of sweet temptations related to the day as well— which your taste buds may love, but you heart not so much.
Valentine’s is not just about romantic love; it’s about the love of your family, and you can make that extra special by engaging in family activities that promote its happiness and well-being. Here are six suggestions to make this Valentine’s heart healthy…
1. Plan Fun Activities
Whether you’re bundling up to go sledding, planning a snowshoe hike or helping junior skate on an outdoor rink for the first time, there are many family activities you can plan that promote bonding while being heart-friendly.
If you’re not into being out in the cold (and we can’t blame you that much), then you can always bring the fun inside. WeAreFreshKids.com suggests a round of indoor mini-putt, or a day at an indoor trampoline park. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it’s something the kids will enjoy (and it helps if you pretend you enjoy it too).
2. Cook Together
Rather than blowing the budget by taking the family out for a rich meal at a packed restaurant on Valentine’s (good luck getting a reservation), why not gather up some healthy ingredients and create a meal from scratch with the kids?
Eating Well magazine makes the task a bit easier by sharing a number of healthy and quick recipes from chicken and spinach soup, to peanut noodles with veggies, to fish tacos with avocado salsa. Having your kids involved in the prep can help them foster a love of cooking, and isn’t this day all about love?
3. Swap Out Sweets
You don’t have to remove indulgence altogether for your family’s health to benefit. You can make some healthy compromises instead. Look for “sweets with benefits” as ProduceForKids.com calls it—for example, instead of giving each other a box of milk chocolates, try some trail mix with dark chocolate that is rich in antioxidants (and good for your heart).
You may also want to incorporate fruit into the mix, but you can have some fun with it. Instead of handing your kid a plain apple and saying, “Happy Valentine’s” (and watching the disappointment on their face), you can make a creative arrangement of various sliced fruit that’s more fun.
4. Hide Surprises in Lunchboxes
Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year, which means your kids will likely be off to school. They will probably be excited to open their lunchbox and eye a big slab of chocolate or bag of candy, so you’d better have a good substitute ready if you’re limiting their sugar intake.
You can go with the fruit idea as we already covered, or you can go with something your kids may be able to show off and share with their friends—think of stickers, playing cards, or even fancy pencils. Use some imagination and make something from scratch if you choose.
5. Let Kids Show Their Heart
Sitting idle in front of a screen is not great for your kid’s overall well-being, but getting them moving and using their imagination is. So, instead of buying them pre-made Valentine’s cards they can hand out to their friends (or give to family members), why not get them to make something straight from the heart?
You can supply the necessities like glue and safety scissors (as well as construction paper), and they can do the rest. Help them out if they ask for it, but ask them what person the Valentine is for and have them create something that shows their affection for that person.
6. Have an Outdoor Picnic
How about mixing exercise and heart-healthy food into one thing? Prepare a healthy feast (with maybe a few treats thrown in for good measure) and pack it up, then take your family on a bit of a hike (weather permitting) to find the perfect picnic spot. “Spread it out on your living room floor if it’s too cold for the outdoors,” suggests ShrinkingMomster.com.
Or, you could take it another step further—hit the farmer’s market first for some raw ingredients or fresh fruit, prepare it together and hike into the wilderness (or your local park if you’re feeling a little less adventurous).