Valentine’s Day is always a fun day to remind others how much we love them and what they mean to us. When I was a kid we had wonderful Valentine parties every year at my grandparents’ house. It was something I would really look forward to. They always had lots of fun games planned, prizes, and plenty of fun heart shaped food. My favorite Valentine’s Day memories aren’t the candies and sweets I ate but the fun I had with my family each year.
Unfortunately, it seems like so many holidays are all about junk food. Or at least the food industry wants them to be. We know when the holiday seasons change just by looking at the wrappers and shapes of our junk foods of choice; Christmas tree and snowman shapes for Christmas, orange for Halloween, eggs and bunnies for Easter, and of course, hearts for Valentine’s Day. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can still make food an integral part of celebrations without going overboard on sugar and all its aliases. We can focus on the games, the fun, and the time spent with our loved ones without over-indulging on treats and candy. Here are some ideas you can use this Valentine’s Day to shift the focus from junk food to what is most important, the people you love.
1. Give more than just gifts.
Don’t get me wrong, I think treats are fun every now and then, but don’t limit yourself in your gift giving. If you haven’t already, read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages to help you think more creatively about how you can show your love. Here are the basic languages and how you could apply them for Valentine’s Day:
Words of Affirmation – Valentine cards are the hallmark of Valentine’s Day, and a great way to offer words of affirmation to the ones we love. Write your own personal greeting or make a homemade card to give the words more meaning.
Quality Time – Simply spending time with a loved one is often the best gift you can give, especially since families and significant others often live apart from each other these days. Activities such as games, family movies, crafts, or a day at the skating rink are much more memorable than what you ate that day.
Acts of Service – Do something in addition to regular household chores for your loved one. Perhaps, if offer to help them with a big project they have been wanting to accomplish.
Physical Touch – Give a hug, and I don’t mean the chocolate candies! Sometimes a heartfelt hug can make a world of difference for the ones you love.
Gifts – Of course, there is nothing wrong with tangible gifts. However, if you plan to give gifts to your significant other or family, try giving them something besides food.
2. Practice moderation at parties, and teach this to your kids as well.
You and your kids may find yourselves at a party that is serving several unhealthy options. This is a great time to teach moderation and balance with food. Teach your kids that they should pile up on healthy options first and have their dessert in moderation (1 piece of dessert as opposed to 3). They will need to practice moderation their entire lives at social events, so it’s a good idea to instill in them a sense of self control while you are the one determining the consequences. If it’s a pitch in, bring something you feel good about and you know there will be at least one healthier option available.
3. Skip dinner out and cook at home with your Valentine.
Stay in! My favorite Valentine’s dinners with Casey have been ones where we have stayed in and cooked a (somewhat) fancier meal together. Last year, Casey took charge and got the special deal at Earth Fare (a healthy grocery store in our area) on grassfed filet mignon which he paired with some veggies. To finish, we made the dessert together from scratch at home, which was a lot of fun, and we could control the ingredients. He made the dinner special by putting a nice red tablecloth on the table. It doesn’t take much for me to feel like I’m dining a bit fancier! 😉
Healthier Valentine’s Day Food Ideas
Just because you are avoiding buckets of sugar and artificial dyes doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun foods. Check out these excellent ideas for healthier valentines day foods:
- Avoid red #40 by making this Very Berry Naturally Pink Frosting at home by Real Mom Nutrition. It does still contain sugar, but since it IS a very special occasion (and it doesn’t have any red #40), this is still a win in my book. And, you can use it as a great example to teach moderation (1 cupcake).
- These Conversation Cuties from Mom Always Finds Out are way too cute. I’ve already made these at home!
- Make festive pink Valentine smoothies using red fruit such as cherries or strawberries.
- Give fruit with a fun message to your valentines. Cake Whiz has some witty ideas for Valentine’s Day Fruit with Messages.
- With the heart shaped cookie cutter the possibilities are endless. You can even do heart shaped fruits and vegetables out of melon, cucumber, pineapple, and apple. You can serve them on a tray, fruit salad, or these Valentine Fruit Wands from A Few Shortcuts are especially fun and festive!
- Here’s a fun breakfast idea for Valentine’s Day Egg in the Basket from Reclaiming Provincial.
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