Healthy Morning Routines to Brighten Up Your Day

Want a productive morning that also helps you create healthy morning habits? Have a healthy morning routine–and the perfect morning–with these morning ritual ideas.

aesthetic photo of a journal with phone, cup of coffee and a laptop on a table

I’m a breakfast person all the way, and so my daily morning routine looks like this: I brew myself an Americano, and whip up a hearty breakfast (usually something with eggs or Greek yogurt). Then, I sit at the kitchen table with my cats and check my e-mail and social media accounts.

Then, I take a virtual yoga or Pilates class before I really get into working for the day. A good morning yoga routine with calming yoga poses really calms me in the morning.

I also love to spend time with my cats in the a.m. Doing gentle exercise, sipping a soothing warm beverage, petting my fur babies, and peacefully easing myself into the day help me set the tone for a great morning.

A good healthy morning routine can lead to a good day. If you feel like your day is sliding downhill by the time you get to lunchtime, make your day sunnier with just a few small tweaks.

Yes, changing what you do shortly after sunrise could have you viewing your sunsets in a much more optimistic light! From a nutritious and balanced breakfast to your coffee order to your lunchtime meal prep, each and every one of your a.m. habits play a role in how your day will go. Are you ready to brighten your day? 

I asked my registered dietitian colleagues for their go-to tips for having a happy, productive morning. Read on for lots of ideas for healthy morning habits! Feel free to add your own morning routine ideas to the comments below.

A bowl full of oatmeal with orange juice and an apple on a table

Healthy Morning Routines: What to Eat and Drink

1. Get Hydrated

One of the best early morning habits to feel good? Getting hydrated. “My go-to morning routine is drinking at least 12 ounces of water before I have coffee,” says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, owner of Sound Bites Nutrition. “It reduces the chance of me getting a headache mid morning and starts my day off in hydration mode.”

Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RD, author of Favorite Family Mealsagrees. “I drink a big glass of water in the morning, too,” she says. “Much of the fatigue we feel in the day may be caused by dehydration.”

2. Sip a Cappuccino

“My husband makes us a cappuccino every morning,” says Judy Barbe, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest. “We sit in the quiet, sipping our coffee, watching the sunrise, talking or not talking–just waking up and enjoying the routine. We use cups we brought home from Italy. It’s our favorite part of the day.”

3. Blend a Smoothie

“The first thing I do is make my smoothie for working out,” says Kathy LaBella, RDN, CDN, CSSD, owner of Peak Performance. “I mix unsweetened whey protein mixed with lactose-free milk, flax seeds, cacao shells, fresh blueberries, banana, and cherries or raspberries.”

4. Cook Up Eggs

“I make a filling breakfast that includes a fiber and protein source to satiate me for the hours of work and mom life to follow,” says Jamie Lee McIntyre, MS, RDN, owner of Jamie Lee RDN. “I never skimp or skip breakfast because I need solid energy to fuel my busy days. One of my favorite breakfasts is an egg cooked in a mug in a whole grain wrap. It’s quick and simple!”

That’s right, skipping breakfast isn’t going to help you. I give my thoughts on skipping what I consider the most important meal of the day, in this post.

5. Eat Cereal

“I get up at 7am,” says Lisa Stollman, RDN, owner of Lisa Stollman Nutrition. “My dog and I eat breakfast before we go out for a walk. Breakfast is black coffee, whole-grain cereal, and almond milk. I exercise before noon and do cardio and weights in my bedroom. It’s great to have a routine during the pandemic.” Want more healthy breakfast ideas?

A person sitting on the grass writing in a journal

Healthy Morning Routines: How to Feel Calm and Happy

6. Visualize Your Day

“I get into the right frame of mind by visualizing how I want my day to be like and what I want to accomplish,” says weight-loss coach Adrienne Ngai, RD, CDE, MSc. “I take inventory of all the things I am grateful for that day. This sets the tone for a positive day.”

7. Hug Your Loved Ones

Here’s a morning ritual anyone can get behind. “I have no routines, other than hugging and kissing my husband and getting up,” says Jan Patenaude, RD.

8. Meditate

“I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes to gain control of my thoughts and  set the tone for the day before going outside on a walk or jog to get my sunlight,” says certified diabetes educator Maritza Moreno, RDN, CDCES.

9. Take a Breather

“I wake up and take my thyroid pill for hypothyroidism,” says Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RDN, owner of Halsa Nutrition. “This is important because you are supposed to wait at least 30 minutes to eat after taking this medicine. Having this time before eating gives me a chance to hydrate with water, meditate, or do some gentle yoga for 10 to 20 minutes.”

10. Read with the Kids

“Now that the kids are home, I start my day doing some schoolwork with them,” says Theresa Gentile, MS, RD, nutrition blogger at Full Plate Nutrition. “I sit down with coffee, they have breakfast, and we bang out some reading and math before 8am. Then, we go for a quick jog around the block. We all feel a little accomplished, energized, and get some schoolwork out of the way before the craziness begins.”

11. Cuddle with the Pets

“The best part of my morning is being greeted by my cat,” says nutrition blogger Jean LaMantia, RD. “We have some sweet cuddle time together, then I feed her and let her outside to explore.”

12. Take a Shower

“My workout sets the tone for the day,” says Cathy Shaw, RD, CSOWM, nutrition blogger at Real Deal Nutrition. “Then, I have a  healthy breakfast and coffee. I shower and settle into my Coronavirus office, aka my son’s old bedroom.”

13. Write in a Journal

“Every morning, I start my day with a cup of coffee and my journal to write for 20 minutes,” says Jessie Furman, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian at the University of Florida. “I write before I check my phone or do much interaction with the world–other than my pet. This gives me the mind space and clarity I need as a I write through any thoughts on my mind.”

Healthy Morning Routines: How to Get Moving

14. Stretch Your Body

What are the best morning exercises? Whatever you enjoy and will do day after day. “I get up and do a couple stretches to help wake up the body,” says Jaymar Saniatan, RD, nutrition blogger at Nutrition Phitness. “Then I take a few deep breaths to clear my head for the start of the day.”

15. Get an Early Start

“I wake up, have a cup of tea, and work out–six days a week,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, author of Expect the Best. “Some days, I run outside and some days I stay in and do resistance training. On the weekends, I get to exercise with my friends–which I miss now that gyms aren’t fully open. I may not want to get out of bed at 5:30am,  but I never regret that I got a work out in early.”

16. Have a Virtual Workout Buddy

“Since COVID, I’ve had a 6am date with my virtual workout partner,” says Megan Boitano, MS, RD, founder of RD2RD. “We use Facebook’s messenger room feature to replay a 5am bootcamp workout. The few minutes of mom life chatter before and after make the early alarm clock worth it. Then, I have coffee and I’m pumped to wake the kids!”

17. Take a Dance Class

Talk about a productive morning routine! “I eat breakfast, then drive to local YMCA for dance aerobics,” says Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, author of Food and Fitness After 50. “I am terrible at it, but it is so much fun and sets me up for a great day.”

18. Walk with Your Pets

“I wake up and have a cup of coffee, along with some water and fruit,” says Lisa Young , PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “I take my dog for a walk, and then exercise to set up my day. Pre-COVID, I would go to my yoga studio or go for a swim. Now, I am adapting and I take a brisk walk or bike ride to set me up for the day.”

19. Do a Gentle Workout

Do you enjoy a yoga morning routine? “I like to work out first thing and usually will have a spoonful of sunflower seed butter to give me a little energy boost,” says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. “My favorite workouts are barre, Pilates, and yoga because they’re strengthening but not punishing. Moving early in the day helps me get into a more focused headspace to face whatever’s ahead.”

This blog post was updated in September 2020.


I’d love to hear from you! How do you start your day? What’s on your morning routine checklist? How do you have a productive morning routine? What morning workouts and workout routines do you enjoy?

Want a productive morning that also helps you create healthy morning habits? Have a healthy morning routine–and the perfect morning–with these morning ritual ideas.
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