The #1 Thing Every Nutritionist Does in the Morning (and You Don't)
Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, your grip on the reigns of life loosen a little more than you'd like, and those good habits you formed, quickly turn bad. You forget to eat breakfast and end up eating a bag of peanuts at your desk or you drink more coffee than water. It happens to the best of us, it's what makes us human. Try not to make a habit of it—adopt these healthy ones instead. Of course, with our busy schedules, we know that's easier said than done.
So how do you keep it at 100 and still keep your health intact? The first step is to set up an effective daily ritual, and one of our favorite ways is with a morning routine. While we've looked into how female leaders kick-start their day—and what they never do—we wanted to find out what healthy women do when they wake up in the morning. So we asked five nutritionists to share their a.m. routines for a happier and healthier day.
They Get Up Early
The idea of getting up early can make many of us feel tired just thinking about it, but if there's one thing we've learned you should never do in the morning, it's hit the snooze button. According to a report by New York Magazine's "Science of Us," it actually makes it more difficult for our bodies to wake up and function in the morning. Besides, being an early riser will make you a better writer, science says so.
Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition NYC wakes up at around 5:15 a.m. every day. "I wake up, heat water for my morning lemon water, and brush my teeth," she says. "My husband jokes that he can't remember the last time he woke up when I was still in bed, even on the weekends. Morning is my favorite time of day. Just being up before most of the city and my household feels like meditation to me, and if I miss that time I am definitely a little cranky! I head to the kitchen and enjoy a mug of lemon water before heading to the gym while my house is still quiet. I have three sons (an 8-year-old and twin 5-year-olds) and morning is my time."
For Carly Brawner, a holistic nutritionist, health coach, and founder of Frolic and Flow, mornings haven't always been the easiest, so she set up a system that makes her get out of bed. "Before I took control of my Hashimoto's (three years ago), I seriously struggled to get out of bed and out the door or feel positive," she said. "I set my iPhone alarm for 6:30 a.m., and it's intentionally placed in the kitchen so I have to physically get out of bed to retrieve it (and because my husband and I have a 'no electronics in the bedroom' rule)." Now that's dedication.
It's the 30-second morning habit successful women swear by, but it turns out drinking a large glass of water or with lemon (crystal water is also a thing) is also the healthiest way to kick-start your metabolism and your day. But water isn't the only liquid nutritionists consume each a.m. Celebrity wellness maven, birth doula, and the founder of Mama Glow, (she's helped everyone from to Alicia Keys to Serena Williams) Latham Thomas ingests several fluids each morning to boost her energy. "I usually have lemon water, then a green juice, or an Açai and blueberry smoothie with coconut water," she told MyDomaine. "I've been having miso soup and veggies in the mornings lately, which is getting me through the winter. If I have a hot drink, it's a 'golden mylk,' which has turmeric, ginger, peppercorn, almond milk, and a little maple syrup."
Registered dietician Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD of Eat Play Be and author of Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain, prefers a nice steaming brew each morning. Once she gets out of bed, it's straight to the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea or coffee. "Right now I'm taking a break from caffeine, so I'm drinking Red Espresso lattes (a loose Roiboos tea). Once it's brewed, I mix it with hemp milk and honey."
Brawner also takes it hot, but her tea is slightly less traditional. "I make a fat tea latte or cup of bone broth before heading upstairs to my home office," she says. "I always feel my best fueled by fat in the a.m. and love the comfort of a hot drink on my desk." If you're intrigued as to what a fat tea entails, Brawner happily shared her recipe with us.
Add the below ingredients to a blender and blend:
Steep 1 cup of organic tea (I usually do green or ginger)
1 tbsp. MCT oil
1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen Powder (omit if vegan)
1 tbsp. ghee (use coconut oil if vegan)
Pinch of cinnamon
They Eat Breakfast (and Sit Down for It)
With our busy lifestyles, finding the time to prepare and eat breakfast each morning is a challenge. A 2011 study found 10% of the population (about 31 million Americans) skip the most important meal of the day, which our group of nutritionists hopes to change. While sitting down for breakfast is a challenge with her three young boys, for Shapiro, eating a protein-rich meal is important. "I am not a smoothie person, especially in the winter, as I find my body craves warm to hot food almost always, and I am not a fan of drinking my calories unless it is in the form of wine," she says.
"For me, I either have eggs with veggies in it (think omelet or hard boiled with greens on the side)," she continued. "I eat the yolk and use coconut oil for cooking or I enjoy rice cakes with raw almond butter, chia seeds, and cinnamon or avocado, chia seeds, and sea salt. Sometimes, when I have time, I'll make oatmeal with chia seeds, almond milk, goji berries, cinnamon, and turmeric. I avoid gluten most of the time and have been dairy free for five years, and I feel amazing."
Babb agrees with the protein rule first thing every day. "Breakfast usually consists of sauteed mushrooms, leeks, multi-colored bell peppers, broccolini or kale, and quinoa with a fried egg on top," she says. "Or a tofu breakfast scramble. I sit at my dining table and eat breakfast slowly and mindfully. I use this as my morning meditation. I sit, close my eyes, take three deep belly breaths, notice the colors, textures, and aromas of the food and savor each bite."
With a busy schedule, Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Middleberg Nutrition, and the author of The Big Book of Organic Baby Food, doesn't have a ton of time once she gets home from work, so she makes a quick and simple breakfast the night before that both she and her son can eat together. "My current favorites include make-ahead options like overnight oats, chia pudding, and quick preps like avocado toast and smoothie bowls (although these get messy)," she says. "I'm typically out the door by 8 a.m. so I don't always get to finish the meal."
They Practice Mindfulness
If you need instant calm, there's one daily habit that will reduce it every time: mindfulness. Even something as simple as a gratitude list has been scientifically proven to bring more joy into your life. It's also the one thing nutritionists swear by. "Each morning I start the day off with mindfulness," Thomas says. "I rise up around 5:45 a.m., sit on my soft carpet and Samaya meditation cushion. I burn sweet resin, write reflections, and read something near my nightstand, usually Sufi poetry or scripture. I do some light movement and take a few minutes to meditate. I use the Many Moons workbook to chart the moon and set up my reflective practices based on the moon phases. Sometimes when I am slow moving I will do a 'beditation,' where I lie on the bed after it's made and check in with my body and breath."
It's at this time, Thomas typically repeats a love mantra to align her body, mind, and soul before the day really begins. She repeats:
The Light of Love Surrounds me
The Energy of Love Enfolds me
The Power of Love Protects me
The Presence of Love is within me
Brawner also uses the positive power of mantras to get herself energized and ready for the day. "I sit back down on the edge of my bed, and I say a mantra out loud, right now it's this one:
I create my own reality, today and every day
I define my own success and my own limits
I am thankful for this day and this life.
"My mantras change based on things I want to remind myself or my intention at the time. Next, I grab my Five Minute Gratitude Journal and fill out the morning portion for that day. At some point before standing up, I physically smile while taking a deep breath in and out through my nose. If I don't do these things right away, they won't get done." The key is making sure your mornings are as stress-free as possible. "If I'm traveling or going to an early yoga class, I make sure to continue my gratitude practice, physical smile, and fat tea rituals," she says. "If you have a condition that makes mornings extremely slow and difficult, I truly understand. Gaining your health back means slowly gaining your mornings back, so don't give up."
Start the Day Right
They Get Moving
Exercising first thing in the morning is never easy, but getting up and moving your body is a great way to start the day. Schapiro swears by it. "I head to the gym or go for a run over the Brooklyn Bridge," she said. "For three mornings a week, I head to the gym to do cardio-based training. On my walk, I stop to pick up a small black coffee, it's a great motivator, and research proves it enhances your workout (bonus). My morning walk to the gym is my meditation time. Unconventional but the sound of the city in the dark is really my favorite time of day."
If time constraints don't allow for gym time in the a.m., then follow Latham's formula and opt for some light yoga, a walk, or a short run. It's all about balance. "On days I don't go to the gym, I take an early stroll to get a cup of coffee," Schapiro says. "I just like being outside a little in the early a.m. My body and mind crave it."
How do you kick-start your day? Does your morning routine include any of these? Let us know what you do in the comments below.