Morning Health Mistakes You Might Be Making

It seems like every blogger, influencer, & self-help author has some morning habit that you simply MUST adopt to become the healthiest version of you. And that advice is put out there with the best intentions. But are these habits truly all they’re cracked up to be? Here are some popular morning habit mistakes that you could be making.

1. Going overboard with your smoothie

Smoothies can be a great option for breakfast on-the-go and for getting some added fruits and veggies in. But it is very easy for that smoothie to get out of control. Excessive fruit and fats and servings that are too large are very common pitfalls. Another issue is making your smoothie too thin to be satisfying so you become ravenous later and derail your healthy diet.

Instead: Keep your smoothies to just 1 cup of fruit, add some veggies, and keep your portions on the smaller end of things.

2. Skipping breakfast

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day because it provides you with the nutrients you need to get your day going at your best and can help keep your body’s cortisol levels (“stress hormone”) closer to their normal range. Studies have also shown that people who eat breakfast are more likely to weight less than people who skip it because it helps keep your hunger more manageable throughout the day.

Instead: If you’re not a breakfast person, try to just have something small but healthy to hold you over until you can have something more substantial. Some almonds or a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter are good options.

3. Taking a something-is-better-than-nothing mentality towards breakfast

While whether or not you eat breakfast is important, WHAT you eat for breakfast is just as important. Starting your day with a sugary donut is going to spike your blood sugar levels and it won’t keep you feeling full for very long.

Instead: Focus on eating whole foods that are high in fiber and protein. This will keep you feeling full longer.

4. Reaching for some juice

It’s made from fruit, so it must be good for you, right? Not so fast. Juice is fruit without the fiber. So, yes, you’re getting some of those nutrients, but you’re also drinking a big glass of sugar with no fiber to buffer it. That can add up to blood sugar issues and weight gain over time.

Instead: Have some water and put some fruit in it to infuse it with the flavor, like lemon, lime, or berries.

5. Having a bowl of “healthy” cereal

Here’s the thing about cereal, most options have too much sugar and not enough fiber and protein in them to be worth it.

Instead: Try some oatmeal (unflavored) with plain yogurt and fruit instead.

Healthy Breakfasts on the Go

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – that’s not just an old wives’ tale. But, it can be the most challenging meal of the day as we are struggling to get ourselves ready for work, get our kids ready for school, maybe squeeze a workout, or leave earlier to drive the carpool. With everything that we have going on in our busy lives, it can be asking a lot just to eat breakfast let alone make it a healthy one.

Why is Breakfast So Important?

As the first meal of the day,  breakfast literally breaks our fast from the night before while we were sleeping. Once we wake up, if we go too long before we eat, our bodies begin to go into a fight or flight stress response and starvation mode. This elevates the levels of cortisol, our stress hormone, in our bodies. Since our cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the morning anyway, elevating them further this way ensures that your stress hormone levels will be higher than they should be for the rest of your day. Eating within an hour of waking up will prevent this stress response from occurring.

Breakfast is the fuel for our bodies to start our day. Think of it like this: your body, having healed and rejuvenated all night long, is like a nice new car with an empty gas tank in the morning. You wouldn’t put sludgy cheap fuel into your brand new shiny car, right? Likewise, you don’t want to put junk food into your body to fuel your morning. A healthy, balanced breakfast consists of a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. You can add a healthy fat in there for bonus points as well. The complex carbohydrate is burned for energy but it is absorbed as a slower rate than a simple carbohydrate like a donut or sugary cereal. This slower absorption rate give you even levels of energy throughout your morning and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like a simple carb would. The protein further slows this absorption and provides fuel on it’s own as well. The combination of fiber in your complex carb and protein will leave you feeling fuller longer. A healthy fat added to the mix provides brain food to keep you on top of things as you start your day.

Healthy On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

So now that I’ve bored you with the science, here are some suggestions for healthy breakfasts on the go!

  • Whole grain waffles (I recommend these waffles) with all-natural, no added sugar nut butter (like Teddie). Sprinkle them with some cinnamon or cocoa powder for more of a treat or top them with half a banana or sliced apple.
  • Whole grain toast with low-fat cheese or hummus and half an avocado
  • Smoothie made with plain, low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup of fruit, and 1 cup of spinach. If you like to add protein powder, I recommend this protein powder as it also contains additional vitamins and minerals and is a clean protein.
  • Fried egg folded up in a slice of whole grain toast
  • A banana and nut butter rolled up in a whole wheat wrap or lavash
  •  Egg muffin cups
  • Baked oatmeal muffin cups
  • Overnight oats
  • Coffee Smoothie –  1 cup cold brew or iced coffee, 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 scoops vanilla protein powder, blend and enjoy!
  • Whole grain toast with low-fat ricotta cheese and sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon
  • 2 hard boiled eggs and a slice of whole grain toast and a piece of fruit
  • Savory quinoa and egg jar – pre-prep a big batch of quinoa and dish it into jars (1/2 cup serving) with whatever veggies you’d like and store in the fridge. In the morning, fry up an egg quickly and toss it in the jar to enjoy on the go. Or prep the whole thing in advance, microwave it for a minute, then go!

 

Got any favorite healthy breakfasts you take on the go? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Phase 2!!!

I am officially DONE with Fresh Start Phase 1! Was it easy? No. But I wouldn’t say it was hard either. Yes, it sucked when I wanted a food I couldn’t have, but really the most challenging part was just making sure I planned ahead. However, if you’re someone who struggles with prepping food ahead of time, this would be a good way to get into the habit.

So after a week of raw fruits and vegetables and water, I am feeling AMAZING. It’s hard to describe exactly what has changed, but I just feel better, like cleaner. I haven’t had headaches like I used to, my skin looks and feels better, I’ve lost a little weight, I’m sleeping better, and my body just feels like it’s doing its job better. Like a whole system reboot. And I think it’s been totally worth cutting out some of my favorite foods for a week.

Phase 2 of the Fresh Start program is health-building. You gradually reintroduce foods, such as dairy and gluten, so it’s similar to an elimination diet in that sense. This allows you to identify foods that your body doesn’t process as well so you can choose to avoid them going forward. So, while it is tempting to jump right in after a week and eat all the cheese, that is not what I’m doing.

Today’s food is something like this:

Breakfast – a Shaklee Life protein shake with kale, berries, and almond milk. For the rest of Phase 2, I will be substituting a shake for one meal per day, but if I were looking for more dramatic weight loss, I would substitute two.

Snacks – healthy options like fruit, a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg

Lunch – lean protein and veggies (cooked or raw) and/or fruit. Today I had a salad with some grilled chicken.

Dinner – Half of dinner should be non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 a lean protein, 1/4 a starchy vegetable or whole grain

Essentially, you are eating clean for the next 4 weeks. Water intake continues to be crucial and things like coffee and alcohol should be limited.

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I’m also taking a new supplement this week, the Shaklee Life Strip. This thing is amazing. Seriously, look at it! The dark-colored liquigels are a polyphenol blend to repair and protect DNA; the yellow liquigels are an omega-3 fish oil; the two dark yellow pills are multivitamins; and the last lighter pill is a B and C complex. That is some major nutrition!

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So, how is this different from a diet? Well, the difference is that Fresh Start is not something that you blindly follow until you’ve hit your goal weight and then stop doing and bounce back. The primary goal of this program is not weight loss and you’re not going to lose 100 pounds doing it. Instead, you start out healing your body with food and optimizing your body’s functions. Then you reintroduce foods in a way that teaches you the right way to eat. And you don’t experience the crazy bounce back because you eliminated most if not all cravings during your first week by essentially rebooting your system. Your palette actually starts to change and your body starts craving the food it needs instead of foods that don’t fuel it and make it sick. It’s a great way to jumpstart your new healthy lifestyle and get you on the right track for sustainable weight loss.

This second phase of the Fresh Start lasts 4 weeks. I am excited to see the results at the end of it but so far I am really impressed with this program.

Fresh Start

I refuse to recommend anything to my clients that I wouldn’t use myself – that’s not something to brag about (or it shouldn’t be); it’s just basic professional responsibility (or it should be). And that is why next week I’m going to be test driving a program that some of my amazing colleagues and I are running later on in the spring and I’m documenting it here for all to witness.

The program is called Fresh Start, a health-building program to help you get back on track dietarily. It’s a 5-week program with the first week being a nutritive cleanse to help eliminate those cravings that often get in the way of getting into a new healthy eating regimen and to help your body systems function more optimally in eliminating toxins from your body . The cleanse week is followed by 4 weeks of “health-building” – being coached through healthy eating habits with a different set of dietary supplements for nutritive support. After the 5 weeks, your body is functioning more optimally than before and you are in a much stronger position for pushing forward with a healthy lifestyle.

So, next week I start my cleanse week. That means no coffee, no dairy (no cheese!), no grains, no meat, no sugar, and no alcohol. I’m not gonna lie – I’m not looking forward to it! That’s not really true – I’m looking forward to what a difference I will feel during and afterwards as I heal my body with food. I’m also looking forward to being able to tell YOU about the experience and its impact firsthand.

So let’s be real: as someone with no food intolerances who firmly believes in the importance of eating a variety of foods, that’s a lot of stuff for me to cut out of my diet all at once, so I’m actually easing into it this week by cutting a little out at a time beforehand. Don’t judge.

The coffee  was a particular point of concern for me so I decided to cut that out this week to make next week less of a shock all at once. I’ve been drinking coffee since high school. I drink it black – no milk or sugar, just pure, unadulterated coffee goodness – and I have a three-cup-a-day habit. I tend to get headaches if I don’t get my coffee so I’m not expecting that I will be a pleasant person for the first part of this week. Don’t. Judge.

This is Day 2 of no coffee and I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by how easy it has been. I was positive that I was going to be wearing my cranky pants and guzzling Advil but I haven’t had a headache and I haven’t been an intolerable jerk to be around – at least not that anyone has told me. I also haven’t really been craving it at all, which really surprises me. I never would have thought that starting the day with a cup of herbal tea instead of coffee would do it for me, but it’s really just the habit, not so much the substance.

I’m also starting to cut back on dairy and grains this week in preparation for next. Like a step-down approach. I think it will also help me start thinking of meal ideas and recipes for next week.

One thing I want to point out that I’m NOT doing this week is going all out and overindulging before starting this program. A lot of people will do this before they start a diet or program and I don’t see the point. First of all, I don’t feel well when I consume a bunch of junk and sit around so it’s not worth feeling like crap to me to get in all the foods I won’t be eating next week. I have my whole life ahead of me to eat those foods if I choose to so I don’t need to eat them like there’s no tomorrow.

I also think that this approach gets you in the completely wrong mindset. Before you even start you are looking at it from the angle of deprivation. Guess what? Shockingly, human beings don’t respond well to deprivation. Essentially, you’re setting yourself up for failure at worst and an incredibly unpleasant experience at best. Instead, I recommend looking at things like this as an opportunity or a new beginning. It’s exciting! You get to see your body functioning better and you get to pat yourself on the back for getting through it.

This is also the mindset that gets you into diet mode rather than lasting lifestyle change. You’re setting up the cycle of overindulgence –> deprivation –> overindulgence –> deprivation which is at the core of all crash diets.

Finally, if you’re going to run a race, why would you take 10 steps back from the starting line first? To me, that is what you’re doing when you have a crazy blow-out week eating all the things before you start a healthy eating program. By doing that, you are guaranteeing that you start off feeling like crap, you feel more deprived, and you may even be starting off heavier than you would have otherwise (if your goal is weight loss).

So that’s what I will be doing for the next month+. Be sure to check back here for updates on my progress – I’m sure it will be comical and may involve me sitting on the floor in a closet savoring a contraband piece of cheese.