One morning last week, after getting my kids on the school bus, I returned to my computer and posted this quick note to Twitter and Facebook:
just when you think you've seen everything, a 3rd grader shows up at the bus stop eating an ice cream cone for breakfast
Before I go on, let me first say that ice cream is one of my favorite foods in the whole world; I like all kinds, with all sorts of toppings, and I have been known to find reasons to partake in this yummy treat multiple times within a single summer day. And yet, the idea of children eating ice cream cones for breakfast struck me as wrong, and it wasn't just because I was jealous. Was it the fact that I'd recently met with the Minneapolis Public Schools Food Service Department and given them a hard time about serving sugar cereal in our schools? Was it a fear that the "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" message had gotten out of hand? Or was it, simply, the fact that something didn't quite feel right about the situation?
The Twitter response was exactly what I'd imagined it would be. One friend wrote:
you're kidding!!!? An ice-cream cone for breakfast? I thought seeing a 4 y/o eating out of a bag of chips was bad...
Everyone would agree with me that ice cream for breakfast was a bad idea, right? Wrong. One of my Facebook friends asked:
Hmmm...how is that different from milk and cereal, except in format?
Well, last time I checked, milk wasn't loaded with sugar, corn syrup, and other additives. And cereal wasn't dipped in chocolate. And doesn't the "format" of our food matter too, especially when we feed it to our kids? Are milk and cereal really no different than ice cream cones? Should some foods -- like treats -- be off limits for breakfast?
My head was still reeling when another friend weighed in:
Oh Lee, you've just got to expand your mind ; ). What about cake for breakfast? You could totally see my kids eating that for breakfast, but they also will choose sparkling water over soda, tell me no to treats because they want fruit. It's all about balance and I learned a long time ago, if treats are treated like the enemy, they seem all the more appetizing.
Agreed. But for breakfast? Still another friend wrote:
compare your yogurt and your ice cream label...or your granola and your cone ingredients (or sugar content)! It's all a numbers game my friend
Suddenly, it was I -- the guy who doesn't think ice cream makes a good breakfast -- who was the crazy one. I just needed to open my mind, read cereal labels, and play "a numbers game." I'm so narrow minded!
The Most Important Meal of the Day, Even if It's Ice Cream?
Is it possible that we've taken this "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" thinking too far? Surely some kids are better off skipping breakfast entirely than eating ice cream cones washed down with soda, aren't they?
Parents, doctors, teachers, nutritionists, readers, eaters, Democrats, Republicans, Independents -- what do you think?
Please weigh in before tomorrow morning -- my childrens' breakfast hangs in the balance.