How my morning routine smooths out my days

As it's done for 10 years, a comforting order gets me started after I wake up

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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From the moment I wake up to when I finish breakfast, I do things in the same order as I’ve been doing them for the past 10 years. That’s because my secret dream is to be calm, relaxed, and easygoing each day. But the steady flood of life’s curveballs, mixed in with my having to live with ALS, pretty much prevents that from happening.

As a result, I’ve learned to negotiate what things I can control and what I can’t. So far, I’m in control of my mornings and my breakfast, which consists of a tall fruit smoothie and a big mug of coffee. Yup, same thing for 10 years. It may not sound appetizing to you, but the combination is the perfect start to our day for my caregiver husband and me.

My transition to drinking fruit smoothies for breakfast began when I started experiencing ALS-related swallowing issues. I needed thicker beverages, and in an effort to simplify my mornings, the idea of drinking a homemade smoothie was born.

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Making a fruit smoothie

It’s a simple recipe. In a large (72-ounce) blender, add nine cups of frozen chopped tropical fruit, one package of instant breakfast powder, and two 8-ounce bottles of flavored meal replacement nutritional shake. Blend on high for around 10 minutes. Pour into three tall glasses and three short glasses. Refrigerate immediately.

I drink one tall glass in the morning and have the short smoothie when I take my daily midafternoon break.

My smoothies mean less caregiver stress for my husband since he only has to make a new batch once every three days. Plus, we don’t have to quibble about my breakfast menu, there’s no cooking involved, and it’s an easy cleanup. He just reaches into the fridge, sets out a smoothie, adds a straw, and he’s done.

Oh yeah, there’s also my coffee, but we’ve also made that an easy job. He’s not a coffee drinker, but after a little coaching on how to use a coffee maker with premeasured pods, my brew is hassle-free.

Surprises and shocks

I have to admit that our final fruit smoothie recipe is the result of many experiments and a few flops. For example, we discovered that adding shredded coconut produced a batch of gritty, crunchy, difficult-to-swallow blend. Yuck!

In the early days, we relied on a standard kitchen blender with the blades at the bottom. But try as it might, it just couldn’t process through the frozen fruit we were dumping into it. Instead of smoothies, it yielded batches of what I renamed to be “lumpies.”

Then there was the morning my husband mixed up a fresh batch and an icky odor of burning rubber filled our kitchen. To our dismay, the motor had given up, mid-blend. Quickly, my husband put the half-blended batch into the refrigerator, hopped in our van, drove to a nearby Walmart, and brought home a professional, powerful, Ninja model. What a wonderful, caring caregiver he is.

Our morning routine has evolved into such a calm, orderly one that we can even share a laugh about those early trials and fails.

That’s the thing about ALS: There are constant challenges, changes, and reasons to have to give up control. I’ve found that building consistency into my mornings helps me cope with the rest of the day. And that makes me feel more in control.

How are your mornings? Try finding the places where you can be consistent. Let’s continue our journey of living well while living with ALS!

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Melody Ward avatar

Melody Ward

I really love Dagmar how you are intentional about how you move through the morning.
I am learning to conserve energy with a little preparation.
However I find my husband - my amazing caregiver is doing lots of cooking.
This smoothie idea helps give me some ideas on how to cut his work in half.
Because I still work he makes me abtirkey cheese & tomato sandwich every morning.’
I am retiring at the end of July and smoothies may be the new deal! Thank you.

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Melody, I'm happy that the suggestion of morning smoothies might work well for you and your husband. Givr it a try! (I'll post our current recipe in the comments) Dagmar

Carol Law avatar

Carol Law

What is instant breakfast powder? Is there dairy in this potion? I think the jury is still out on whether pals should have dairy. I have always had an aversion to the texture of smoothies but since everything is changing I might try this; my cals husband loves them for breakfast. My favorites for now are a bowl of canned refried beans with a poached egg stirred in

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

It's "Carnation brand Instant Breakfast Essentials, vanilla flavor." It does contain non-fat milk. I haven't read anything about pALS restricting dairy and I avoid any blanket statements or opinions on do or don't do - - unless backed up by valid medical research. I've been consuming milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ...etc. with no adverse reactions. I think dairy is up to each individual and their particular sensitivities. We all experience ALS differently.

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

In case readers are interested, here are the recipe details for the smoothies:

2 8 0z bottles Ensure, strawberry
1 package Carnation Breakfast Essentials powder, vanilla flavor
2 bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces and frozen (approx 16 pieces)
3 cups frozen tropical fruit pieces (pineapple, peach, mango, strawberry)
2 cups frozen mango pieces
2 cups frozen sliced strawberries

Blend approx 10-min. Pour into 3 tall glasses, 3 short glasses. Refrigerate.

Maria avatar


Es una excelente idea lo de los batidos de la mañana, podrías ayudarme con las recetas del almuerzo y de la cena? Soy cuidadora de mi esposo y veo que está perdiendo mucho peso porque no tiene una alimentación nutritiva.

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Hello Maria, you are asking for suggestions for lunch and dinner... I don't have any recipes to share but, I can give you a few helpful links to how to help increase your husband's calorie intake. On this page of Your ALS Guide, scroll down to find "Getting the Calories You Need."

Also, the ALS Association has an online booklet "Maintaing Good Nutrition with ALS" that full of good ideas.

Also, an online booklet from the MND Association:,to%20burn%20energy%20more%20quickly.

Hope your husband enjoys the fruit smoothies! Dagmar

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