I’m good at eating ― probably too good. I don’t always eat healthy, but I eat a lot, and in America that counts for something. Given these strengths, it’s surprising I’m so bad at eating breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, yet I usually skip it altogether. That’s why I decided to form my own breakfast club. For one week, my family and I sat down for a morning meal together without a TV or any other distractions to see if it made a difference in our days. Thanks to Tropicana for partnering with me to make this experiment a reality. And thanks to my wife and four daughters for going along with it. They participated because they love me, and also because I bribed them with food. Here’s what I learned:
Since this was my idea, I handled the cooking. I nailed it on the first day. I used an old family recipe where I handed a clerk my money and she handed me a box of doughnuts. Everything tastes better when you do it yourself.
The first thing I noticed when I sat down with my family is that there are a lot of us. Somehow it never sunk in before how big of a crowd six people can be at mealtime. You see, we eat together every night, but we don’t normally look at each other. To see the TV, we usually sit on one side of the table like we’re in Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. We can’t be the only ones. Maybe Jesus and the apostles also had a 60-inch LCD.
We had doughnuts again. Actually, it was the rest of the box from the day before. Sure, they were 24-hours-old, but they tasted even better because this time I didn’t have to leave the house in the dark and cold to get them. Don’t look down on me for eating doughnuts two days in a row; commend me for not finishing the full dozen on the first day. I deserve a medal, or maybe just more doughnuts.
My kids were thrilled to have doughnuts a second time. As for spending extra time together, they could take it or leave it. The 10 minutes we sat at the table were a chance for them to share their hopes and dreams, but mostly they just used them to fight.
It was Saturday, so I made biscuits and gravy along with some sides. I hadn’t cooked breakfast gravy in years because my wife hates it. Now that my daughters are a little older, I decided to surprise them with the finest dish breakfast has to offer. I was still the only one who ate it. My kids stuck to the bacon. At least my gravy lost to a worthy foe.
Eating breakfast on Saturday made the whole day easier. We had a road trip in the middle of the day, and the extra food delayed my kids’ whining for lunch by a few hours. It was the best we could hope for ― short of tranquilizing them.
This time my wife took over. She went all out with homemade breakfast sandwiches, not because she was hungry, but because she wanted to show me up. Apparently it’s possible to cook breakfast without setting off the smoke detector. Lesson learned.
We ran out of ambition before we ran out of days, so we stuck to cereal and toast to round out the experiment. I’m 31 years old, and I learned I still jump every time the toast pops up. It needs some kind of warning beep. Or I need to man up. One of those isn’t going to happen.
After eating breakfast with my family every day for a week, I had three major revelations:
There’s always time for food. In addition to being the most important meal of the day, breakfast is also the fastest. It helps that my kids don’t really chew. We were never late for anything, just less early. I’m not that eager to get to work anyway, so procrastinating the start of the day was well within my skill set.
It helped me avoid snacking throughout the morning. This was a huge benefit since everything I eat between meals is covered in chocolate and contains enough calories to sustain a small village for a week.
My family can survive a meal together without watching TV. Seven meals, actually. I didn’t need to take out those extra life insurance policies after all.
Eating breakfast with my family definitely had benefits. I’m not sure if we’ll do it every day—I have a long and storied history of not doing things that are good for me— but it’s something I’ll consider. At the very least, maybe I’ll finally convince my kids to eat my biscuits and gravy. Or better yet, maybe I’ll stop being scared of toast.
Serve Tropicana to help give the whole family the spark they need to seize the day.