Talk to any nutritionist, CEO, or entrepreneur and chances are they'll say that their morning routine is the key to a productive and healthy day. But let's face it—sometimes it's a struggle just to get dressed and get out the door each morning, let alone stick to a structured start to the day. But here's the good news: Your morning rituals don't have to be elaborate. The best morning routine is one that fits your lifestyle and personality, and that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
Below are 30 simple morning rituals that nutritionists use to kick-start their day and set themselves up for success. And if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
It's no surprise that breakfast tops the list of morning rituals for nutritionists. "There are differing opinions on the importance of breakfast, but most of the research shows that breakfast shouldn't be skipped. And even more importantly, my own experience is in favor of breakfast as well. It provides me with the brain energy I need to get started working for the day," says registered dietitian and culinary nutrition expert Jessica Levinson, RD.
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, sticks with a savory meal. "I usually enjoy some combo of eggs and veggies, a frittata (my go-to make-ahead breakfast), or a breakfast salad. I love roasted sweet potato to get some complex carbs in there," she says. Whitney English, MS, RDN, CPT opts for some vegan banana Belgian waffles or a bowl of super seed oatmeal.
Eat Some Fat
You read that right—include some fat in your morning meal, too. "I eat some form of fat every morning, usually a pretty hefty serving," says registered dietitian nutritionist Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD. That includes things like nut butter, avocado, whole milk yogurt, and eggs. "As a type 1 diabetic, it helps stabilize my blood sugars through the morning, allowing me to feel awake and energized rather than the exhaustion that a blood sugar crash can bring on."
Drink a Glass of Water
After a full night's sleep, it's important to rehydrate. "Water is essential to every cell in the body. When there isn't enough, body processes become sluggish. Drinking water jumpstarts all of the body's functions including digestion, elimination, and overall metabolism," says Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, nutritionist, and chef. If you need a little flavor, add some lemon, fresh ginger slices, and local, raw honey to hot water like Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, CDN. "The routine itself is comforting and helps to set me up for feeling my best all day long," she says.
Set Your Intentions
Want to start your day with a clean slate? Set your intention for the day. "Consciously capturing my intentions for the day when my brain is fresh sets up the frame of mind I need to get through the day. I may not be able to control what happens over the course of the day, but I can be conscious about the emotions I want to experience and how I respond to daily events," says Begun.
Let's be real: For many of us, it's coffee before all else in the morning. "As soon as I open my eyes, I immediately make a strong cup of organic coffee with a dash of half-and-half that gives me some much-needed life in the morning," says Georgia Rounder, registered dietitian nutritionist. For Phipps, she savors her special latte. "Every single morning, I have an almond milk latte in our Nespresso machine. I limit it to just one, but that one gives me the little burst of energy I need to start the day."
Don't Look at Your Phone
We admit that we're guilty of grabbing our phone first thing in the morning, too. "I used to scroll through social media every morning before getting out of bed, but this always caused me to start my day slightly stressed and with low energy," says Alissa Rumsey, registered dietitian and nutrition therapist. "Now, I never look at social media or check my email until I've gotten out of bed and eaten breakfast. Ideally, I wait until I get to my office."
Get Some Fresh Air
Registered dietitian Kim Hoban's morning walk isn't just so her pup can use the bathroom. It also sets the tone for her day. "Even if it's just around the block, it's a great way to wake my body up and get both of us moving in the morning. Sometimes I use that walk as a way to be very present, observing the sights and sounds of the morning, and honestly, sometimes I use that walk to mentally run through the upcoming day and my to-do list." English agrees: "The sunshine, fresh air, and movement energize me and primes my mind and body for the day ahead."
Supercharge Your Coffee
While you're getting your caffeine fix, why not boost your morning cup of Joe? "Instead of skim milk, which would add about 6 grams of net carbs to my coffee, I mix a scoop of F-Factor's 20/20 Vanilla Fiber/Protein Powder in, which has less than 2 grams of net carb, and use a milk frother to make it foamy," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, founder of the F-Factor diet and bestselling author. "The powder not only sweetens and lightens my coffee but adds fiber and protein too, jumpstarting my metabolism for the day."
Visualize the Day
Have a hectic day coming up? Don't immediately rush to your to-do list. "That leaves me feeling stressed and anxious," says Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD of Street Smart Nutrition. "Instead, I take a few minutes to scan my calendar, close my eyes, and visualize how I'll navigate that particular day. I'll loosely plan when I'll take a break, enjoy my lunch, or work on side projects. This helps me retain a calmer approach and feel like I've presented myself with lots of options even when the day is packed with scheduled commitments."
Chase the Sunrise
For many, the early morning is the most peaceful time of day. "I am quite the early bird and find the morning to be the most peaceful and restorative time of day," says Rounder. Cording wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 during the workweek. "For better or worse, I've always been a morning person, so I like to get up early to give myself time before I dive into the day," she says.
Find Your Daily Dose of Inspiration
"While eating breakfast, I usually read through some of my favorite online publications or listen to a podcast to get my brain buzzing and to squeeze in some content for pleasure and get my brain thinking more creatively going into the workday," says Rounder.
Map Out Your Meals
"Similar to how you pick out your outfit the night before work, I'll look at my day ahead and plan out exactly what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner," says Zuckerbrot. "By thinking it through and writing it down, I commit myself to my healthy eating and am better equipped to make responsible eating decisions throughout the day."
Starting each morning with a five- to 10-minute meditation is one way Hoban sets herself up for a positive, productive day. "I use the Calm app and usually follow a guided meditation, which helps me focus before diving into work and a crazy schedule. I'm certainly not perfect about meditating everyday, but I totally notice a difference in my outlook and energy levels when it doesn't happen!" she says.
Stretch It Out
Nothing feels better than a good stretch in the morning, says Alanna Waldron, RD. "I sit up in bed and stretch out the neck and shoulders. I often am tense when I sleep, and it feels good to relieve some pressure off the upper body if I slept or rested my head on the pillow in an awkward position," she says. Deep stretches are part of registered dietitian Samara Abbott's day too. "Starting the day off with some movement gives me great energy for the day," she says.
Get Your Sweat On
Working out first thing in the morning isn't just good for your health, it also helps kickstart the day. "By getting in some cardio or a little strength training session, I feel so much more alert, calm, and sharp throughout the workday," says Rounder. Plus, as a runner, Harbstreet likes to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures. "It helps boost my energy levels so I feel less groggy and coffee-dependent for morning meetings or conference calls!"
Nutritionists know the importance of refueling after you exercise. That's why it's an important part of their morning. "When I come home from the gym, I'll make myself some breakfast, usually peanut butter and banana toast or overnight oats. The combination of complex carbohydrates with some healthy fat and protein really works for me and my energy levels," says Rounder. Plus, it keeps her blood sugar stable and helps her make healthier choices during the day, "rather than reaching for everything and anything I can find due to being 'hangry," she says.
Write it Down
Morning is the perfect time to spend a few minutes journaling. "Journaling first thing in the morning, when my brain is fresh and free from distraction, is when I experience the most creative thoughts," says Begun.
Get to Work
While most morning rituals seem to focus on extending your pre-work downtime, for Suzanne Smith, MS, RD, CSSD, her morning ritual is actually sitting down to work. "I've learned that I'm most creative and energized in the early hours when everyone else is sleeping," she says. "I'm more efficient and have better ideas during this time of day so I take full advantage of it. I usually work on the most complicated task when my brain is fresh and eager to work. It makes it easier for me to make healthy choices later in the day, like deciding to work out, because I don't have the excuse 'I'm too busy.' The work is done and my schedule is free."
Even before she gets out of bed, Rumsey practices gratitude. "I spend three minutes each morning, usually while still in bed, following these prompts: three things I'm grateful for, three things that would make today great, and one affirmation," says Rumsey. "Starting the day with gratitude and positivity makes me feel more energetic and I end up being more productive."
Enjoy a Cuppa
Whether you're a coffee drinker, tea aficionado, or green juice lover, sip and savor your morning time. "I used to fill a travel mug and sip tea on my commute, but now I've learned to slow down and sit to enjoy it at my kitchen table or—better yet—outside on my patio when the weather is nice. Those few moments of peace and quiet before the storm of the day are key for me," says Hoban.
Don't Forget Your Fiber and Protein
Zuckerbrot makes sure to include a healthy serving of satiating fiber in her morning meal. "My breakfast packs at least 20 grams of organic fiber with 20 grams of organic protein, ensuring that I stay full until lunch," she says. She opts for high-fiber pancakes or waffles made with her F-Factor protein powder. "With only 3 grams of net carbs, it provides my body the opportunity to burn fat for fuel, too," she says.
Showering in the morning may seem like a no-brainer, but for Levinson, it helps her get her day going. "It wakes me up and washes off the sleepies, energizing me for the day," she says.
Tend Your Garden
First thing in the morning, Kyle heads to her garden to care for her chickens, collect their eggs, and harvest any fruits and vegetables in the garden. "The simplicity and quietness of Mother Nature are soothing, keep me grounded, and set me up to have a more centered, focused, and productive day," she says. Even if you don't have a backyard garden like Kyle, tending to your indoor plants or small herb garden can offer similar benefits.
Read Your Cards
For Cording, pulling a tarot card from her deck is a key morning ritual. "It's a way of asking myself, 'What should I keep in mind today?' Honestly, I feel like my reaction to the card tells me even more than the actual meaning of the card itself, but it's a good way for me to check in with myself about what's going on in my life," she says. "It's such an important part of my day that if I'm traveling for more than a couple days, I'll bring my cards."
Prep Your Water Bottle
You know you should hydrate throughout the day, so make life easier by prepping your water bottles like Zuckerbrot. She aims to drink at least three liters of water per day. "To make it more manageable, I aim to get my first liter in before lunch, ideally before leaving the house. I use a one-liter bottle and keep it by my side while I get ready. I know I'm on schedule with my water if I'm ready to refill before walking out the door."
Walk the Kids to School
"My favorite part of my morning routine is walking my oldest to school while pushing my two littles in the double stroller. Rain or shine, we did this routine for the last 180 days and have just a week left!" says Katie Heddleston, RD. "Since we started this as a family, which often leads to walking the long way home, the boys are excited to keep up our morning walks this summer, turning them into runs."
Focus on Pet Time
Quality time with your pets can help to reduce stress levels. That's why Harbstreet builds in some time with her furry friends in the morning. "Whether it's walking my dog, brushing the cats, or even just cleaning up the messes they create, showing affection to my pets (and receiving it back!) always puts me in a better mood," she says.
Seriously, just breathe. "Taking a deep breath helps sets my mindset for the day as it allows me to inhale fresh, positive air and exhale any negativity. It helps clear my head for the new day," says Waldron. "I remind myself to take deep breaths throughout the day especially when I am stressed. One long inhale and exhale, counting down to five, immediately relieves some stress and anxiety."
Pick an Affirmation
Want to manifest your best day? Flood your brain with a positive affirmation. After all, you are what you think. "Jotting down a couple of affirmations helps me feel aligned and focused on those intentions through the day," says Cording. Her favorite? "Let it be easy."
Build in 'Me' Time
Mornings can feel super hectic, especially if you have kids or pets to take care of. But don't forget to take care of yourself, too. "I try to get up by 6 a.m. at the latest each morning so I can have 20 to 30 minutes of quiet before my kids wake up," says Phipps. "As an introvert, that quiet alone time is vital to starting my day on the right foot." Continue your day the right way with these 15 Healthy 5-Ingredient Breakfast Ideas Ready in 5 Minutes!