Moms, Kids and Fast Food

What parents secretly say about about these meals

As most of America knows, McDonald’s now serves all-day breakfast and has been doing so for about a month. The company’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, reports that sales of the fast food chain’s breakfast offerings have been outperforming expectations. Customers are now spending more money when they go.

But what do parents really think about feeding their kids Egg McMuffins for breakfast – or some of the other options, such as Happy Meals and Big Macs, served up by the famed restaurant chain? (McDonald’s, after all, had 15,790 restaurants in North America last year, some 91 percent of which were located in the United States, according to Statista.)

We reached out to a selection of moms across the country for their input and insight about eating fast food and serving it to their kids. Their comments may surprise you.

My husband took our son to McDonald’s every weekend for breakfast or lunch from age 3 to age 18. It became a much-loved father-son ritual. Conversations began with Thomas the Tank Engine and over the years morphed into high school assignments, philosophy, girls and life. – Lesley from Alexandria, VA

As a teacher I know breakfast makes a huge difference in how children learn. Sure, it would be great to serve a wholesome breakfast every morning, but who has the time? – Carolyn from Alexandria, VA

Related: One Dad’s Junk Food Fight

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Once in a while, why not? It’s fun, easy, and a guilty pleasure. My kids understand that healthful eating means consuming a range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, and they get plenty of exercise. So I see nothing wrong with indulging in a Big Mac and a side of fries now and then. Hits the spot every time. – Marie from Paterson, NJ

“My 13-year-old son is a successful distance runner and eats McDonald’s pancakes virtually every race day.”

Not doing it! Very occasionally I get my kids McDonald’s, but only when I’m desperate. – Annie from Springfield, VA

An Egg McMuffin is relatively healthful. The pancakes the kids usually choose? Meh. We do McDonald’s only on road trips and I’m always glad to find one for breakfast. – Beth from Austin, TX

I do not want my children eating fast food at all. I do everything I can to avoid it. I’ve read far too much about what is in fast food. It’s scary. I do appreciate the convenience of a drive-thru with young children. I never understood the virtue of them until I had kids. I wish healthier restaurants had that option. – Erin from Alexandria, VA

These days when we very rarely go to McDonald’s, I love the ritual, the idea that some things in America are dependable and transcendent. It is the one holdover from my small-town upbringing into my urban adult life. – Carol from Washington, D.C.

Related: The Family Meal is Real

My 13-year-old son is a successful distance runner and eats McDonald’s pancakes virtually every race day. – Laura from Fishers, IN

Absolutely not. As a mom and a nutritionist, I know that if my kids’ breakfast is full of saturated fat, refined sugar and omega-6 fats, I’m setting them up for a sluggish morning. A fast food diet won’t sustain their energy for concentrating in school, being active for gym or being focused on an array of tasks that require fine motor activities. Instead, a wholesome breakfast of a banana, an apple, a handful of nuts and whole grain toast with peanut butter offers much-needed nutrients and minerals that will help a child’s body grow. Parents should not take the easy way out when it comes to their kids’ future health and well-being. – Mai from Washington, D.C.

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I’ve been known to use a drive-thru now and then, but 80 percent of the time I eat healthfully and avoid processed food. Parents are judging themselves way too much. No one is perfect. – Kim from Owensboro, KY

I only get the coffee. I don’t like the food. – Elizabeth from Alexandria, VA

It’s easier to just never go. – Monica from Austin, TX

Absolutely we eat there now and then. McDonald’s oatmeal is delicious. – Vanessa from McLean, VA

Fast food is an emergency option for us only. Otherwise, no bueno. – Jessica from Alexandria, VA

Related: The Superheroes of Superfoods

I cannot resist the fish filet. My kids (both teenagers) have their favorite meals from McDonald’s, too, usually burgers or chicken sandwiches. I think we all just get a little too worked up about this kind of thing. A fast-food meal now and then is fine. We eat a very balanced diet overall. – Anne from Yonkers, NY

Pancakes and sausage, please, with a side of hash browns. Does that answer the question? – Gina from Alexandria, VA

If it’s a choice between McDonald’s or my precious offspring going hungry in the morning, I will pick McDonald’s every time. I just don’t make a habit of it. That reminds me: I need to get milk at the store tonight because we’re all out. Guess I’ll grab some chicken McNuggets and fries for dinner at the drive-thru. It’s just so easy. – Rachel from Evansville, IN

It’s better than grabbing a donut, sweet cereal or pop tart. With two kids, four sports, a full-time job and a husband who coaches, fast food is a blessing at times. – Jana from Lexington, KY

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