When it comes to birthdays, many of us tend to go all out with indulgent treats, processed snacks, and sugary beverages. However, since our baby shower last year, we decided to take a different approach by hosting a healthy birthday party, focusing on quality ingredients and real foods, while ditching processed or artificial snacks and soda. This year, we celebrated our daughter's birthday with a fall pumpkin theme, and it was everything we had ever hoped for. In this blog, I'd like to share our motivation and the positive impact this decision had on the celebration. I'll also provide you with some tips for managing an event that goes against the norm of what society is accustomed to for celebrations.
The Motivation Behind This Change
We don't purchase inflammatory foods loaded with artificial dyes, excessive sugar, and seed oils. So, why would we do it for a party we were hosting? It didn't align with our values to stock up on all the junk and lower-quality foods for a gathering with friends and family whom we love and appreciate.
I understand the challenge of hosting a birthday party that can quickly become expensive and exceed the budget. Many celebrations are filled with unhealthy, cost-effective foods because we're conditioned to associate them with such events. This connection is both emotional and financial.
Making mindful spending choices like voting with your dollar can significantly expand access to better food options and alternatives for more people. It's unfortunate that the situation is as it is, but recognizing the impact of our choices is the first step toward change. Our focus isn't on achieving perfection, but rather on finding better ways to provide delicious food, desserts, and candy for the kids' goodie bags.
Understanding the Impact of Artificial Ingredients and Seed Oils
As a health coach, I've shared how many artificial food dyes have been linked to various health issues, including hyperactivity in children, allergies, and behavioral problems. Artificial flavors are used to mimic natural flavors but can create an imbalance in the palate. Relying on artificial flavors can lead to a preference for highly processed foods over fresh and natural options. Many seed oils, such as soybean, corn, and canola oil, are high in omega-6 fatty acids. An imbalanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with inflammation and chronic diseases.
I know what you're probably thinking. One party won't change anything, but that's not the case. Considering how many birthday parties, celebrations, and holidays we have in a year, it really adds up. One health-conscious event may not transform people overnight, but it certainly sparks interest and plants the seed.
What We Did Differently: Better Alternatives
We wanted to take this opportunity to promote a healthier lifestyle and show that celebrations can be enjoyable without sacrificing our well-being. Here is what we did differently:
- Beverages: For drinks we had sparkling water flavored with real fruit (no natural flavors), organic apple cider from Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill, filtered water, and hibiscus water with monkfruit. For the kids we had organic Uncle Matts Juice boxes with no sugar added and real good ingredients. I loved that these were not high on sugar or contained any natural flavors compared to other juice boxes. We also had organic coffee with Laird Superfood Pumpkin Spice Creamer for the adults. The powder creamer is a better alternative since it is sweetened with coconut sugar instead of regular sugar.
- Food: Our friend prepared a fantastic Hibachi food for our guests. We selected the best possible ingredients we were able to get considering it was for a big event. We had avocado oil instead of seed oils. We also had grass-fed butter, 100% grass-fed steak, wild-caught shrimp, organic white rice, organic veggies, organic corn on the cob with Primal Kitchen Mayo. While we couldn't do pasture-raised chicken, (which is what to get from a local farmer) we were okay with getting organic chicken (even if organic does not mean much for chicken and is what is only available in stores). We much rather have organic chicken than non-organic.
- Desserts: I prepared grass-fed gelatin gummies, which are amazing for gut health. These gummies were made using real fruit juice, with no artificial dyes, natural flavors, or added sugar. We also showcased mandarins with a creative twist: they were topped with a celery stalk to resemble mini pumpkins. We also had a dear friend do organic sourdough vanilla and cacao frosting cupcakes that were seriously soooo delicious and had people asking for more. Our daughter's cake was made with the same sourdough organic ingredients including kefir! Additionally, I made a chia pudding with maple syrup, coconut cream, and pumpkin puree.
- Kids Goodie Bags: I didn't fill the kids goodie bags with candy even though they were better options for them. I included these Bear Fruit Rolls made with real fruit and no added sugar or artificial anything. These coconut dark chocolate bars from Unreal have 3 grams of sugar and simple ingredients. These Skout Organic Kids Snack Bar make a great option too! I added these Grain-free Granola Bars for the older kids. The last thing we added to some goodie bags were the YUMEARTH Organic Sour Giggles. Though these do not have the best ingredients, this is better than the traditional Skittles which are now banned in California for containing red dye and other harmful chemicals. There was a mix of small size chips, puffs and popcorn in their bags like the Boulder Avocado Oil Potato Chips, Lesser Evil Popcorn, and Cheddar Space Balls.
- Table Botana or Snack: Last but not least, for botana we had the Siete Chile Lime Puffs to snack on and a variety of Lesser Evil Popcorn.
Embracing the Unconventional: Tips for Non-Traditional Celebrations
I understand that hosting a healthier birthday party or any health-conscious event can be challenging. Not everyone will share your perspective, and that's perfectly okay. The most significant thing is to stay true to your own desires without giving in to people-pleasing or the fear of what others may think or say.
By embracing a healthier lifestyle yourself, you can become a role model for your friends and family. Your commitment and positive changes have the potential to inspire others to follow suit. Trust me, it's possible! In fact, our friend who served as the chef for our Hibachi Grill expressed a desire to change some of the ingredients he uses for his food services. This is a significant step forward, and it brought us great satisfaction to hear it. With that being said, here are some tips:
- Start with wherever you are and what makes sense for you
- Do what you can with what you have
- Start with changing one thing one year as opposed to feeling like you have to change everything
- Focus on improvement instead of perfection
- It won't make sense for other people, but if it does for you, go with it
- Don't take it personal when it comes to people who will have something to say with how you choose to live your life
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Let me know if you have made small changes for any of your events in the comments below!