Creative Commons License photo credit: kodomut

Hey guys! Let’s go get some breakfast. McDonald’s or Burger King?

I was half amused, half shocked as I overheard this conversation at my physical therapy session this morning. My shoulder has been bothering me a little, which is why I have been going there for the last few weeks. This morning, an elderly lady brought her young daughter for therapy. Her second daughter joined the family a little later as she came in with her 3 year old, fairly active and energetic son. They seemed like a happy family, very talkative and supportive of each other. The boy ran around the room fascinated by the different equipment, trying to mimic the movements of his young aunt undergoing therapy for her ankle.

The therapy session coming to an end , the Grandma naturally thinking ahead of breakfast offered the choice between McDonald’s and Burger King to the family.

“I don’t care”, chimed in the two daughters casually, indicating either would be just fine.

Well, at least these consumers don’t find any difference between the two brands I thought. The food is just about the same, the price and service quite comparable and equally appealing to them. So much for the millions of advertising dollars spent by the two building their brand equity!

Just like paper or plastic at the grocery store, it doesn’t really matter!

The real problem, of course, is that the young boy doesn’t have a choice in this matter. Both of these options put him in a lose-lose situation over the long run. He has no way of knowing if there is another alternative for him. Even if he does not grow up to be overweight or obese, which I sincerely hope turns out to be the case for him, doesn’t he deserve a third option of breakfast at home?

I know it is not a good idea to judge too soon, and there is nothing wrong in going to McDonald’s or Burger King once in a while on a weekend. Still, I would have loved to hear a third option.

What do you think? Aren’t our kids entitled to better options?

Please share your opinion in comments below.



  1. You are absolutely right. And for a tip, if you expect to be away from home, pack some healthy breakfast to-go. Peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat w/ some apples or banana. Cereal in a ziplock bag (Kashi Shredded Wheat for example) and a carton of milk (get the ultrapasturized ones so you don’t need to keep it cool).
    Parents sometimes don’t realize how easy it is for bad eating habits to form. And they are hard to break.

  2. Guest

    Definitely! What about StarBucks? They have some on-the-go breakfast items which aren’t too unhealthy.

  3. MathieMom

    I know your heart’s in the right place and you’re thinking of the child. But truthfully, you don’t get it. Blaming McDonalds or other restaurants isn’t going to do anything for obesity in this nation.

    I was overweight, according to the doctors, starting around 8 years old. We didn’t have money for fresh produce, but my mother always made sure that there was a can of vegetables served with dinner. Mom dutifully switched me to nonfat salad dressing and nonfat milk when the doctor told her I was overweight.

    She also started sending me to the gym twice a week for the adult aerobics class, at 10 years old. She was doing her best, trying to help me. But it just added to me feeling out of place.

    No one talked about portion sizes back then, at least that I remember. I remember lots of TV specials about AIDS and condoms, and lowfat everything. But as the oldest of 4 kids, if you liked a particular meal, you’d better have seconds tonight because there might not be any left tomorrow night.

    I feel like I’m finally turning a corner and have an elementary understanding of how to integrate balanced and enjoyable food and activity into my busy life. From the many diets I’ve tried in the last 22 years, I’ve learned how important it is to make fruits and vegetables a large part of your diet, about half your plate. I’ve learned just how little I can eat and not starve, as long it’s balanced over time. But the most I learned was from from my own body, while pregnant and breastfeeding (exclusively breastfed for 6.5 months and continued nursing until he self-weaned at 17 months!). Pregnancy taught me what true hunger felt like, and nursing taught me what true thirst felt like. I realized I’d been thirsty my whole life.

    During pregnancy, I had the gift of craving exactly the nutrient that was missing from my diet. I gave up my lifeling lowfat diet. Instead tried to eat a balanced diet and started taking prenatal vitamins that included a fat supplement, otherwise known as DHA. Most of my cravings went away, and I could always tie them back to somewhere my diet had become unbalanced. I focused on protein that had “good fats”, like peanut butter and eggs). After my son was born, I craved protien even more.

    Only now, at almost 30 years old, I’m starting to understand my own internal hunger cues (I can overeat for quite a while before I’d actually feel full, so I settle for not feeling hungry all the time). I’ve learned that the only success I can hope for is to eat a balanced diet AND watch portion sizes, and include non-laziness in my daily life.

    Now, I’m a mother myself, of the most adorable almost 2-year-old boy. He’s starting out like I did, right on track for his size and weight (has stayed on his 10-25% curve his whole life so far). I’m hoping to spare him the life of constant dieting with no success that I have been through. I want him to enjoy activity. I want him to experience all sorts of activity, from dancing to all kinds of individual and group sports, to just walking around the block after dinner alone with his thoughts. I’m trying to be active by taking my son for walks to the park and having silly dance parties in our living room. I try to introduce him to a wide variety of foods, but I know that what I can achieve is nothing close to what he deserves. I can only do my best and pray that God will find a way to send other teachers to him to fill in the gaps. I know that I can’t trust the media, government, or schools for that, for none had that information to give to me.

    This is not intended to be excuses or justification, or anything like that. Life is a journey, and weight management doubly so. I deliberately don’t say weight loss, because everyone I’ve know has participated in their own individual weight management at some point in their lives. There are the elderly that hardly eat anything at all anymore because of health issues, or put all their effort just to walk around the block. Every pregnant woman has managed their weight through pregnancy and afterwards. I don’t know anyone that goes through middle age without reexamining their diet and lifestyle. And that’s my point. Instead of teaching all people, all children, all adults, the joy of eating a garden-ripened tomato fresh off the vine, of dancing to the golden oldies while sweeping your floor, we look at the chubby kids and say “Shame on McDonalds.”

    I never went to McDonalds as a kid, but I didn’t need to eat McDonalds to become obese. An unbalanced diet, an unbalanced life, was enough.

    • Hi:
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree that simply blaming McDonald’s or Burger King for our overweight or obesity problems is not the answer. You make a lot of very good points. I think your story is very inspiring.

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