11 Healthy Morning Habits Nutritionists Swear By
Start your day a little healthier with these simple tips.
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Healthy Ways to Start Your Day
Think about it: What's the one habit that you do every single morning? Whether it's healthy or not, everyone has a morning routine. We asked registered dietitians (RDs) around the country what's the one habit they must do every single morning, no matter what. Here's what they said.
Drink a Tall Glass of Water
Many dietitians tend to grab for a glass of water, including Michele Fumagalli, RD, LDN owner of Fit Plate Nutrition. Fumagalli says that every morning she reaches for a 10 to 12 fluid ounce glass of water before touching her coffee, tea or breakfast. "My husband and I even keep each other in check with this," which is a great way to stay accountable! Fumagalli explains that water makes up 60% of our body. "Organs, tissues and many bodily functions rely on water to function properly and optimally. Thus, it's obvious that hydration is important, so why not start first thing in the morning?" Fumagalii doesn't claim any miraculous result from drinking water first thing in morning other than getting ahead of the hydration game.
Drink a Cup of Hot Tea
Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, MPH founder of Fad Free Nutrition Blog loves to drink a cup of hot tea when she gets up in the morning. "My favorites are green tea, hibiscus and turmeric. I find that a hot drink in the morning is so soothing and helps me begin my day in a calmer mood." Nieves also says that teas are also a great way to start your day with some antioxidants, such as polyphenols and catechins, which "helps me feel like I'm starting off the day promoting and protecting my health!"
Go for a Morning Walk
If you think it's tough to get up in the morning and make time for breakfast, how about going for a walk at 6:30 a.m.? That's what Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD owner of Sound Bites Nutrition, LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio does daily. "I meet friends to walk at 6:30 a.m., three days a week after all our kids get their buses." She likes to walk with friends regularly because "we provide each other accountability. We show up despite cold or rainy weather and it's a great way to stay connected. Walking also helps me keep my weight and keep blood sugar in check. As I get older, these get harder to manage."
You know dietitians certainly practice what they preach. Kathleen Meehan MS, RD certified intuitive eating counselor and owner of a virtual nutrition practice says, "I really value eating something in the morning, otherwise I feel unfocused, lethargic and unpleasantly hungry. Food provides my body with energy, and eating consistently throughout the day is an important form of self-care for me. Taking time to eat breakfast (even if it's quick or on the go!) is something I treat as a non-negotiable."
Morning routines don't always have to be about food. Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND, blogger at The Geriatric Dietitian, says every morning she writes down at least five things she is grateful for. "Eating breakfast and moving my body are habits I've had for a long time, but adding a gratitude practice has shifted my mindset going into each day. Having a grateful attitude makes it easier to appreciate what I have, who I am, and have grace with the choices I make throughout the day."
Include Protein at Breakfast
It's not just when you eat, but what's included at breakfast. Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RDN provides personalized nutrition therapy at Go Wellness says, "I've learned that I must include some source quality protein, usually eggs, plain yogurt or nut butter, every day for breakfast." This is because protein is digested more slowly, so it helps keep you satisfied for longer after a morning meal. "Not only does it keep the hunger pangs at bay, but it also helps stabilize my energy levels, keeping me more focused while working," says Loy.
Morning habits sometimes involve thinking ahead and that's exactly what Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, owner of Mama Knows Nutrition does. "Before the day starts, I always make sure I know what I'm going to make for dinner that night. I'll double check that I have the ingredients I need, and even do a bit of prep if I have a couple minutes to spare. At the end of the day I'm tired and need to get dinner together quickly for the family, so the chances of us having a healthy dinner are much greater if I have everything ready to go. Plus it keeps me from feeling so overwhelmed and scattered at dinnertime!"
Include at Least Two Food Groups at Breakfast
It's not only about eating something for breakfast, but also having balance like Ilana Buchbinder, RDN, CDN, MB, a pediatric dietitian does. Buchbinder makes sure that she has at least two different food groups in her breakfast each morning, which "helps stabilize my blood sugar levels and kick start my day with fiber, protein and/or a healthy fat." A few of her favorite breakfast combinations include a vegetable omelet with fruit, oatmeal with cinnamon and nuts or a quick high fiber cereal and milk.
Froth a Morning Cup of Coffee
Instead of running to the nearest coffee shop for a fancy coffee, Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND is a nutrition professor at Boston University and the host of the hit nutrition, health, and wellness podcast, SpotOn!, invested in a frother. "It makes my coffee taste like a cappuccino for a fraction of the price at a coffee shop," says Salge Blake. "From a nutrition standpoint, I am adding at least 1/3 cup of nonfat milk, which froths better than whole milk, to my mug. After my third (and last) cup of morning java, I have added at least a cup of milk to my morning, deliciously sipping on calcium, vitamin D, and potassium — three fall-short nutrients for many Americans."
Do Five Minutes of Yoga
"Besides eating a healthy diet, routinely practicing yoga moves of twisting, forward bends and stretching my body soon after I wake up, keeps my digestive system running like clockwork," says Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD clinical dietitian, adjunct professor, and author of The Nourished Brain. Mussato likes to think of yoga poses sort of like massaging your organs internally. "This early morning wake-up call is perfect for increasing blood circulation to your intestinal tract lending a helping hand in digestive functioning aiding in reducing gas, cramping and bloating."
Stick With the Same Routine
Some folks need to stick with the same routine every day. Toby Smithson, MS,RDN, DCES, diabetes lifestyle expert, founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com, and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies says that consistency is key for her diabetes management. "Every morning, whether at home or traveling, I stick with the same routine." Smithson's go to breakfasts include whole grain oatmeal, sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and Splenda with a side of soy links for a boost in protein. "If I'm traveling, I'm able to pack this breakfast to take with me. I'll stir in hemp hearts to add more protein. A big bonus is that I only need boiling water or a microwave to cook this breakfast."