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5 Tips for Easier (and Healthier!) Mornings {Repost}

This article was originally posted on the website for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. I highly recommend the blog as another great resource from dietitians!


Can you believe it’s September already?! Where did the summer go? Whether you’re sending your kids back to school (or going back yourself), or just saying goodbye to those lazy days of summer, it’s likely time for a new routine. Some people are morning people, and getting going isn’t difficult thing. But for the rest of us, a few tips on how to make mornings a little easier.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The key to a better morning is actually a better night. This is often easier said than done. Like Seinfeld joked with us, Night Guy and Morning Guy are battling it out for control of our schedules. But getting enough sleep is the easiest way to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start your day. Cut your zzzz’s short, and you’ll wake up with extra stress hormones running through your body, and find yourself hungrier than usual. This is no good for anyone, but especially not for those trying to watch their weight or control their blood sugar levels. Try to make the effort to get to bed earlier – even if it’s just 30 minutes.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The other aspect of a better night leading to a better morning is planning. If you follow blogs about living a healthier life, you’ve probably noticed this theme. Planning is key to making healthy choices. Making your lunch the night before provides you with two key benefits. First, you’re likely to actually eat a packed lunch instead of eating out, which increases the odds that your lunch is healthy. Second, you’re less stressed in the morning getting out the door. Looking for some good brown bag options? Check out CAND’s Pinterest page for inspiration.

Picking out your clothes the night before also speeds up the morning – it also prevents you from realizing that your pants are dirty 30 seconds before you intended to walk out the door. This can also help reduce morning struggles over getting ready with your kids – have them make the choice before bed, too.

What’s for breakfast? Is it grab-n-go to eat on your commute? Or will you enjoy it at home, or at the office? Either way, having a plan before your alarm goes off will help ensure that donuts aren’t a daily thing.

Eat Right

Speaking of breakfast, you were planning on eating it, right? This topic is its own post, but here are a few things to keep in mind. First, eat breakfast! We know that breakfast eaters are more likely to manage their weight. Plus, only eating two meals a day makes it harder to get in all your fruits and veggies!

Second, eat a mixed meal. Meaning, make sure your meal has all three of the macronutrients: carbs, fat, and protein. Your body needs carbs for energy, protein for growth and repair, and fat to help you feel satisfied for more than 20 minutes. No matter what your palette prefers in the morning, there are plenty of ways to make it quick and healthy.

Caffeinate and Hydrate

Coffee is a must to start my day right!

Coffee is a must to start my day right!

If you’re like me, you’re kind of a zombie until you’ve had that first cup of coffee. With good reason – caffeine can help us jump start the morning and get going. Whether coffee or tea is your thing, enjoy it in moderation. Meaning, no one actually needs “a vat” of coffee. And be mindful of how you drink it – avoid sweeteners and specialty coffee drinks.

Don’t forget to hydrate, as well! As you caffeinate, don’t forgo the water. The benefits of staying hydrated include improved memory and attention. Which might be the edge you need to stay on top of things first thing in the morning. I find that it’s easier for me to get enough water throughout the day if I drink water soon after getting up.

Get the Blood Flowing

There are lots of ways to get the blood flowing in the morning. In my perfect world, I get in a run before heading to the office. Though not all of us are morning exercisers, we can all do something in the morning. Taking just a few minutes to do yoga or stretching, or 30-seconds of jumping jacks can do wonders for helping your body wake up. If your body is alert, your morning routine just might be a little smoother.

Another way to get the blood flowing is through your diet. Incorporating leafy greens in your breakfast provides naturally occurring nitrates and folic acid, which are both linked to improved blood flow. Try a green juice or smoothie, savory oatmeal with spinach and cheese, or scrambled eggs with veggies.

What about you? How do you make mornings easier and healthier?