The Way to the Heart? 20 Ways to Show Love (that Don't Involve Food)

Is there such a thing as a Grinch for Valentine’s Day? 

I’m kind of meh on it. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves to make magnificent demonstrations of affection for one day, when really we should just try a little harder to show love every day. 


And putting on my dietitian hat, I think the holiday revolves way too much around food. I love chocolate as much as the next girl, but how did eating cookies larger than our heads become a symbol for romance? 


Anyway. Before you think I’m a hater of love (or a big ol' grump), let me clarify. 

  1. If both you and  your partner love covering your house in rose petals and chocolate fondue, then please enjoy it! You do you!! Don't let my irritability bring you down.
  2. I think it’s adorable when my kids come home from school with little handmade Valentines (duh). 
  3. I absolutely do my best to make the day special for my loved ones, many of whom do look forward to Valentine’s Day. I just try to find ways that aren’t 100% food-related, and I try to spread the love throughout the year. 

To that end, here are 20 ways to show the love on Valentine’s Day (and every day!) that don’t involve food. And stay tuned for a followup post about healthier indulgence on V-Day. 

For your Kids: 

  1. Give the gift of time. Volunteer at your kid’s classroom Valentine's party, or spend some time partaking in your kid’s favorite hobby with her.
  2. “Sometimes, when you least expect it, love finds you.” Have you ever read Love Monster? Gets me right in the feels, EVERY TIME. Pick up a sweet book about love for your little one. We also love Hug Machine in our house. 
love monster.jpg


3. Stick a little note in your kid’s lunch box or snack bag.
4. Smile when they walk into a room.
5. Pay them compliments!
6. Say yes! How many times do we say no with no good reason (totally guilty of this one)?
7. How cute are these little love letter necklaces? I found them at ArtMart, but they're available on Amazon as well. My kids are younger, but they love tiny things and mail so these are just perfect. 


For Your Partner:

  1. Plant a big kiss on your partner the second he/she walks in the door. Bonus points if you gross your kids out—it’s good for them to see you being affectionate. 
  2. Does sleep come at a premium in your house? Take the early shift. Don’t complain or make a big show of yawning all day.
  3. Do a job your partner hates, like the laundry (remember, bras and sweaters don’t go in the dryer ;)). 
  4. Snowy or icy? Wake up early and scrape your partner’s windshield. 
  5. GIVE YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION! I am very guilty of this myself. Put the phone down, close the computer, and really hear what your partner is saying.

For a Friend: 

  1. Send a letter via snail mail. 
  2. Call, just because! 
  3. Take a few minutes to write dates important to your friend (like the date of a test, or a job interview) in your planner. This will make it easier to check in and send love and well-wishes when your friend needs them most. 

For the World: 

  1. Pick up litter when you see it. 
  2. Be extra kind to someone who is extra grumpy (especially when it’s hard). 
  3. Walk down the street with spare change, and feed parking meters that are expired (my kids loved this when we did it once). 
  4. Smile. Say please. Say thank you.
  5. Pay a compliment! 

Whether you get down on V-Day or just aren't feeling it, I hope all of your days are filled with love. 







Healthy Holidays: Kid-Tested, RD-Approved Holiday Gifts

When I was a young kid, I dreamed of becoming an aerobics instructor. I idolized Jane Fonda, tagged along with my mom to Jazzercise each week, and begged for Get in Shape Girl sets each birthday and Christmas (which, in my case, are one and the same!). 

Children of the '80s: Any other GISG fans? 

Children of the '80s: Any other GISG fans? 

Get In Shape Girl lost its appeal to me around, I dunno, adolescence. But in recent years, my love for fitness-related gifts has been rekindled! 

Now that my kids are a little older, I absolutely love giving them gifts that get them off their cute lil’ butts, and sometimes even into the kitchen. Some of these gifts have been so well-received that I've given them to other little ones in our life. 

In the spirit of the holidays, I'll share my secrets  ;). Here are 7 RD-approved suggestions for wellness-related gifts for young kids (think 10 and under). 

1. Organic Cotton Teethers Veggie Crate
$36, Uncommon Goods

veggie crate.jpg

Send the message early on that veggies are fun to eat with this adorable teething set! Babies will love the smiling faces and the bright colors. Caregivers will love that these teethers are soft, easy to grip, and machine washable.

Fresh Organic Fruit Basket ($36) also available. 

2. Lettuce Turnip the Beet Shirt/Onesie
$21.95 and up,


Let your babes proclaim their love of veggies to the world! From my experience, people love starting up conversations about this darling onesie (which is also available in older kid and adult sizes, if your kids aren’t mortified by the prospect of dressing like their parents yet).

3. LeapFrog LeapBand
$44.99, Amazon


Santa has brought each of our three kiddos a LeapBand over the years. The kids love it because it encourages silliness and creativity, using animal movement challenges and other fun games. I love it because its customizable controls allow parents to limit access during school and at bedtime. Parents can also set daily usage limits. 

4. Little Partners Learning Tower
$159.99 and up, Amazon

MaeMae, using her Learning Tower to make "Carrots a la MaeMae"

MaeMae, using her Learning Tower to make "Carrots a la MaeMae"

Yes, it's expensive. But this tower is a workhorse. We bought this more than 6 years ago and it's still going strong. Our kids started using this as young toddlers for water play at the sink (which is fantastic when you have a busy little one and need to get dinner on the table). But it's still useful for older kids. Our 5-year-old can't quite reach the stove and countertop safely when cooking, and this tower provides just enough of a  boost. 

5. NoCry Cut Resistant Gloves for Kids
$10.99, Amazon

cut gloves.jpg

Do you know what's terrifying for a mother? Letting kids play with knives! The best protection against cuts and kitchen accidents is teaching proper knife technique. But these gloves offer some extra reassurance that precious little digits will be safe. They're a great stocking stuffer for kids who've graduated to adult knives.

6. Curious Chef 3-Piece Nylon Knife Set
$8.91, Amazon


Let's just say you don't yet trust your kids with grown-up knives (even with cut gloves). This set teaches knife skills in a safe and age-appropriate way. My son started using these just before his second birthday, and he happily sits at the table (or stands on his Learning Tower!) with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cheese so he can help make dinner. Full disclosure: They're not great for crunchier foods, like carrots. Think cucumbers, berries, bell peppers, peaches, etc.

7. Teeter Popper
Fat Brain Toys, $36.95


Have you ever coveted your kids' toys? I secretly get kind of jealous when I see my kids play with their Teeter Poppers. They just look so fun! Younger kids can sit and rock in their poppers, while older ones can stand and twist. In the process, the kiddos build up balance, as well as core and leg strength. 

What about you? Have you found any awesome wellness-related kid gifts this season?