Like Halloween, Easter, and Christmas, sugar overload can be a problem on Valentine’s Day. Many schools host activities focused around sweets and your child may come home with giant bag of high fructose corn syrup treats and toxic candy.
For kids who react badly to sugar, chocolate, or dyes, and for those who need to avoid it in their diet, this can mean trouble. (And for the record, we've never seen anyone react well to a bagful of candy!)
Is there a way to avoid all this sugar and dye?
If you are willing to take charge and get involved, you can help your child avoid candy overload this holiday.
Top 5 Strategies for a Reduced-Sugar Valentine’s Day
1. Coordinate the classroom party
While many schools are taking steps to limit the sugar in classrooms for birthdays, holiday events still come with classroom parties and treats. Parties are great for community building, but can be challenging for our kids and their food sensitivities. If your child’s class is throwing a Valentine’s Day event with food and treats, offer to be the coordinator or volunteer to help out, if possible.
As the coordinator, request healthy treats from parent volunteers!
You can help ensure that not everyone who brings snacks is bringing sweets (“Oops. We ALL brought cupcakes. . . “)
- We've made a rainbow out of strawberries, oranges, bananas, kiwis/grapes, and blueberries.
- If you want to get even more Pinterest-worthy with your party, you can set up fresh fruit with a chocolate fountain or fondue for dipping, so that the kids are getting some healthy foods with their treats (and you can control the ingredients in the chocolate fondue).
- We've also done a smoothie bar in a classroom party before! It takes more effort, but the kids thought it was fun.
If you can’t be the coordinator, volunteer to help out so that you can oversee how many treats your child gets. If you cannot volunteer, speak with the teacher about your concerns and brainstorm healthy, fun food options together.
For example, he or she might be open to teaching the kids about the importance of healthy snacks and sharing those rather than traditional candy or least limiting the amount of candy in the party and shared as valentines.
2. Encourage candy-free Valentine’s gifts
If your child’s class is exchanging Valentine’s, speak to your child’s teacher to see if she can request parents to send candy-free options. Teachers may be open to a classroom full of kids who are NOT sugared up on Valentine’s Day!
You can offer to coordinate the gift exchange or write the letter for parents, offering suggestions and where to buy pre-packaged Valentine card kits. Fortunately, non-candy valentines are becoming more popular with great non-candy items like pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos. *NON-TOXIC ONLY, PLEASE.
✅❤️We're loving these non-toxic temporary tattoos for kids from Tattly.com – printed in the US with vegetable ink.
3. Limit the candy
If they're bringing home a treat bag, we always do an audit of what's coming home. We toss the cheap off-brand chocolates that could be contaminated and then we assess how much is left over. A little bit of candy, sure. An entire bagful? Nope. The goal here is that they'll participate and make choices on what to keep and what to toss.
4. Cut out extra sugar in advance
The trick here is to lower your child’s sugar intake rather than eliminate it in the days leading up to the event. You don’t want your child to detox all the sugar and then get a big rush on party day. Cut sweets back to a reasonable amount, like one treat a day. On the day of the event, make sure they have sugar free or very low sugar meals and snacks.
That day, you can give your child an omelet or nut butter toast for breakfast, and pack fruit that is lower in sugar. Berries are a great pick, so are nectarines, cantaloupe, lemon, grapefruit, and papaya. Don’t forget to avoid starchy foods that day too, like potatoes. Pack water rather than juice.
Don’t forget to check the sugar content of packaged foods like nut milks, deli meats, chips, etc. Finally, pack your child a filling lunch full of fiber and omega-3 foods (whole grain breads, sunflower seeds, vegetables, avocados) so they will crave less candy.
5. Rebalance your child’s system afterward
If sugar overload does occur for your child, make sure you have items on hand to get her body back in balance: a high-quality enzyme, activated charcoal to cleanse their system or a good probiotic for kids. Ask your health care provider or practitioner to recommend quality brands and dosage of these products. (Be careful with probiotics if your child has a dairy allergy, as some are cultured from dairy.)
Shifting the focus off of candy on Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to help our kids celebrate their relationships instead. This is a great time to learn to be a better friend.
This year, ditch the box of candy and teach your children to show their love with acts of kindness, cards with compliments and notes of gratitude.
Updated February 2019