In the marketing aftermath of Taco Bell announcing Thursday that breakfast is now on the menu, parents face another obstacle to getting kids to make a healthy choice for “the most important meal of the day.”
Many kids love to skip meals, but are drawn to funny marketing campaigns for less healthy alternatives, such as those offered by fast food chains.
This leaves parents wringing their hands in a quandary over whether a less nutritional breakfast is better than none at all.
After spending years trying everything from holding a fork-full of eggs over a kid’s head while making airplane noises, to pouring pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, I urge parents not to throw in the kitchen towel and head to an in-car breakfast.
I’m not talking about a bag of bakery doughnut, or a Sunday after-church trip to IHOP, but rather avoiding the choice of heavily processed folded food handed to you through a sliding window in the side of a building while the minivan motor is running.
I believe breakfast is a lot like parenting because it’s the work you put in early that pays off at the end of the day.
This issue hit my mommy radar because the Taco Bell ad campaign grabbed my kids’ attention by getting all those men named Ronald McDonald to approve of the new Mexican-ish morning menu.
I decided this weekend's breakfasts would be a family, home cookin’ event at our house.
Thanks to the new Taco Bell menu, I feel inspired to make breakfast burritos on Saturday and epic waffles on Sunday.
In case my sons need a side-dish of humor to go with breakfast, they will learn that I spent today calling all the women named Wendy I could find to get their favorite breakfast recipes.
Yup! I just did that.
I intend to tell the kids, “All those McDonalds like Taco Bell, but Wendys approve of breakfast at home with the kids.”
All my sons have a “thing” for the actress who does the commercials for Wendy’s. She is known in our house as, “Hot Wendy” and is the reason nobody leaves the room during those commercial breaks.
I started close to home with Wendy Warrington Mezzenga, a friend I know from my charity work, who said her favorite family breakfast is stuffed French toast.
“It's worth getting up early for, even on a weekend when I could be sleeping in,” says my Ms. Mezzenga. “Plus, it's a good way to get everyone to slow down and eat together!”
Wendy made a good point, that there’s a social component to breakfast that sets the tone of the day and a family dynamic that you can’t get through a sliding window on the fly.
When I went looking for information on the value of breakfast for kids, I found a 2013 study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing that found that “children who regularly have breakfast on a near-daily basis had significantly higher full scale, verbal, and performance IQ test scores.”
"Because adequate nutrition in early childhood has been linked to increased IQ through childhood, which is related to decreased childhood behavioral disorders, better career satisfaction, and socioeconomic success in adults, breakfast consumption could ultimately benefit long-term physical and mental health outcomes as well a quality of life," wrote the study’s lead author Jianghong Liu, an associate professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
For Chef Wendy J. Brodie of Carmel, Calif., who runs The Art of Food website and classes for families and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, color, texture, and shape play just as important a role as flavor in cooking.
“My father worked for CBS and Walter Cronkite and so our lives were not typical and there wasn’t always much time to spend together,” says Ms. Brodie. “But my father believed in breakfast so we had breakfast together pretty regularly. We tried to make that our meal.”
“Kids can take cookie cutters and pour eggs into them to make them in shapes,” Brodie adds. “Toast bread, cut it into shapes, use a healthy spread, and let kids decorate it with dried berries.”
If any of this rings a bell with parents, I hope they will consider making a homemade family breakfast as part of their daily diet as often as possible.