Stop Eating Breakfast So Fast

Photo by muyyum

There's a scene in the 1993 film "Falling Down" where a flat-topped and hipster-bespectacled Michael Douglas walks into a fast food chain to order breakfast. The problem is, like most chains, they have a strict rule for when their menu "changes" from breakfast to lunch. In the movie, that time is 11:30am, and Michael Douglas's character walks in about two minutes too late. When the manager doesn't budge because of the corporation's policy, well, let's just say that isn't the thing to do with a man with a gun who's having a very stressful day.

Like any movie made two decades years ago, there are certain elements to it that act as accidental time capsules, giving us a glimpse into an antiquated world that no longer is. And according to this piece from Ad Age, the above-described passage may be in that realm shortly. People watching that scene a few years from now may simply be aghast that there was once a time when breakfast wasn't served all day.

McDonald's, the focal point of the article, has been slowly trying to corner the market on The Most Important Meal of the Day. They've already been trying to lure a portion of the morning coffee drinker market away from Starbucks by introducing McCafé, and have started serving oatmeal all day long. Just recently they introduced a lower-calorie breakfast sandwich (the Egg White Delight) to try to entice the health-conscious among us to make a morning pit-stop into the golden arches. And as McDonald's goes, so goes the rest of the fast food industry:

Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway are also focusing on the daypart: Subway rolled out its breakfast line in 2010 and recently offered an all-day breakfast as part of its monthly "$5 Footlong" promotion.

But as this Gawker piece regarding the new fad pointed out, there's another important takeaway from the piece:

"You can have the 1950s breakfast to go now," said NPD Group VP Harry Balzer, noting that the average time spent eating breakfast is 13 minutes.

Thirteen minutes? Thirteen minutes!

Listen: I understand what it's like to live in today's go-go-go/always-online/work-work-work lifestyle. You have to get to the office on time, which means leaving 40 minutes early to brave the harsh Los Angeles traffic, and the East Coast branch is waiting for those reports, and the kids have to be taken to school, oh also there's the dog that has to be walked, and you still need to find time to work on that dream project that brought you out here in the first place, and don't forget about those social networks to check up on, and post to, and like, and see who's in and who's out of their relationships. And that's just before noon.

The whole rigamarole is exhausting; there are not enough hours in the day. To jam-pack it all in, corners must be cut. And, unfortunately, enjoying breakfast for a normal period of time is one of the first things to go. Eating on the run is no longer the exception, but the norm. And that's a dangerous problem.

I've needed the Heimlich Maneuver four times in my life. (If you don't want to click-thru, here's a summary of what I've choked on: a piece of rolled ham, sourdough bread, a sandwich at Subway, and one of those large gel-cap pills containing cold medicine.) This, of course, puts me on the rare end of the spectrum -- if there are any readers out there who have somehow beaten my record and lived to tell the tale, please add a comment -- which gives me a kind of unique take on the subject. I am an expert on choking.

Drawing from my experience, I can tell you that choking those times had little to do with some kind of physical defect, and entirely to do with simply trying to rush through swallowing something in order to continue the rest of my day. And many people aren't as lucky as I've been. Just last month, a 29-year-old school teacher from Chicago died after choking on a hot dog while watching a baseball game. So, while rare in the adult world, this kind of thing does happen. Choking is an actual consequence of rushing through a meal.

So: Slow down, people. Instead of forcing yourself to rush, force yourself to take a break and just enjoy your food. At the very least, it'll give you a nice brief meditative respite from your jam-packed day. At the most, it'll save your life.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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