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Channel Islands YMCA Shares 5 Healthy Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids’ Dental Health

Valentine’s Day is this week. It also happens to be National Children’s Dental Health Month — a time to raise awareness about the importance of oral health in children.

Did you know that each year, Americans spend a total of $1.6 billion on Valentine’s Day candy, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold this week? So in honor of both of these observances, I figured we could focus on a couple of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without the extra cavities.

Check out the five tips below to help you celebrate in a healthier way:

» 1. Heart-shaped anything. Not all hearts have to be chocolate or candy. Using a cookie cutter, anything can be cut into the shape of a heart. Cut out heart-shaped veggies or arrange breakfast in the shape of a heart. For some reason, food seems to taste better to kids when it’s cut into a fun shape. Check out great ideas on Pinterest.

» 2. Get crafty. Sure, it’s easier to buy the store-bought cards for your kids’ school parties, but it can be fun to spend some time making them, too. So get out the markers, glitter and construction paper and create your own personal messages.

» 3. Small gifts. Instead of the traditional candy attached to your kids’ valentine cards, give something nonfood-related like a sticker, pencil or eraser this year.

» 4. Sweets with benefits. You don’t have to completely avoid all sweets to have a healthier holiday. Make your own healthier desserts by dipping fresh fruit in dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants. Yum!

» 5. Get moving. This one has less to do with dental health and more to do with general health. Holidays don’t always have to focus so heavily on food. Encourage your kids to be active by creating a fun game or activity for them to do. Create a scavenger hunt for the kids where they have to run through the house (or classroom) to find new clues. That’ll keep ‘em moving!

— Tina Hernandez is the marketing and communications director for the Channel Islands YMCA.

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