Meditation is an ancient practice, but this calming exercise has left its religious roots and entered the modern mainstream much like yoga.  Motivation behind meditation is multi-factorial.  From chronic disease to athletic performance, from relationships with people to relationships with food- meditation offers something for everyone. Quieting the mind and focusing on the breath for as little as five to twenty minutes a day changes both the physical matter of your brain and its neural activity.  Treat your brain like a muscle by taking it to the “meditation gym” and in return you will gain more clarity, calmness, and contentment.

After reading about the health benefits of meditation in 10% Happier by Dan Harris and Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, I decided to give it a try. In just three months of meditating, I so firmly believe in its non-invasive, non-prescriptive health boost, that I now recommend it to many of my MNT clients.

Meditation and your health

According to research, meditation lowers blood pressure, alleviates depression, boosts immunity, reduces stress and anxiety, enhances memory and focus, and improves self-regulation. The combination of improved self-regulation with lower stress and stress-related hormones (cortisol) offer tools to deal with emotional eating. For those who know what to eat, but have a hard time making the best choice, meditation might be the ticket to help manage this emotional relationship with food.

How do you start?

Forget the lotus pose. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The basic principles include sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, focusing on your breath, and observing your thoughts without judgment. Start with 5 minutes a day and build up to a length of time that is sustainable for you.

When will you see tangible benefits?

Just like one workout won’t give you bulging biceps, one meditation session will not change your life. Just like your body, your brain needs constant and consistent training. However, most mediators notice benefits of daily mediation in as little as two weeks. I immediately noted my practice working for me when I was able to respond versus react to my 3 year old’s tantrums.

Did I peak your interest? Try it! I promise this small time investment will reap lifelong health benefits.

Other helpful tips – While I tried meditation on my own for some time, I found a guided mediation enabled me to maintain a more consistent practice. The mediation app “Headspace” was the ticket for me, but there are many mediation guides available. 

Check out Kayli’s Double Chocolate Breakfast Brownies from her blog: http://www.planteatersmanifesto.com/

brownie

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  15 mins

Total time:  25 mins
Serves: 12 muffins
Ingredients 
  • 1 flax egg (combine 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit until thick, about 5 minutes).
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil or canola oil + more for oiling muffin tin
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly oil muffin tin (or use muffin cup liners).
  2. Prepare flax egg.
  3. Combine flour, oats, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add maple syrup, oil, applesauce, and prepared flax egg.
  5. Stir until just combined (be careful not to over-stir!).
  6. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in muffin tin for about 5 minutes before removing.
  10. Once completely cool, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 muffin Calories: 160 Fat: 8 Saturated fat: 6 Carbohydrates: 23 Fiber: 3.5 Protein: 3

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.