The Mind-Body Effect of Food (AND your best breakfast/brunch order)


Nagina Abdullah


March 8, 2015

Man eating burger.

When I go out to eat, I like to enjoy myself. I want to “let go” and feel free. I dont want to watch everything that I am eating.

But — the desire to feel free can backfire on me.

The food you and I put into our bodies is one of the biggest drivers of how we feel.

After eating “whatever I want,” I feel seriously tired, and find myself looking for a comfortable place to lie down for hours soon after. I dont like that feeling of being tired and lethargic and my stomach feeling jiggly.

I like feeling energized and productive and positive.

Theres a real mind-body effect of food. I am so much happier when the food Im eating nourishes my body and makes me feel satisfied inside. If I feed my body nutritious, natural, lighter foods, my body will have more energy, and my mind will be more clear.

I trust my body (and not my mind) to lead my decisions around food. Heres how I let my body lead:

  1. I think of my body as a separate entity — actually as a separate being than my mind
  2. I consider, “How will my body feel?” (after I eat x, or keep eating y, how will she feel?)
  3. I have foresight to know the way my body feels will drive my mental performance – that’s the mind-body effect of food

Recently, I followed a workout to the gym with a reward to myself to go out for breakfast/brunch — and I wanted to keep it healthy and light. As I walked in and sat down and browsed the menu, many of my weaknesses caught my eye.

Lots of tempting options on this menu

Specifically, the “Belgian Waffle” and “Brioche French Toast” sounded so tempting, sweet and delicious. Heres some things that led my decision NOT to order the food which I was initially tempted by:

  • I wanted to feel energetic when I walked out of the restaurant and to think clearly
  • “I just worked out, I can eat a little of this” crept into my mind. But I did not want to waste my workout so I dismissed this thought
  • I ordered the French Toast when I went to this place a few weekends back and it did NOT taste that good, AND made me feel heavy the rest of the day

Because of these reasons, it was easier to move my attention to something more nutritious. I went for the 3-egg White Omelette with 3 fillings.

That was the easy part. I then had to significantly modify the menu offering to make sure I was getting a meal that would help me lose weight.

Im now going to give you:

  • Very specific tips about exactly how to order your breakfast when you go out to help you lose weight
  • What ingredients to modify
  • Nutritional information that most people dont know and will accelerate weight loss

Keep reading.

When the server came to the table, I asked for my usual black coffee with cinnamon (cinnamon keeps blood sugar low), and then I ordered the 3-egg White Omelette.

  • I asked for onions, spinach and jalapenos in my omelette (bell pepper is another great option). Each of these vegetables add flavor, crunch, and/or loads of nutrients WITHOUT the calories, fat or processing of the other options I had to put in the omelette (bacon, sausage, cheese, etc.)
  • I chose egg whites because it keeps my fat low, but having one egg yolk is fine as well
  • I immediately asked for hot sauce with it — which adds delicious satisfaction that replaces the heaviness of cheese I used to crave

The sides are where this healthy, high-protein meal can go south quickly. The eggs came with toast and potatoes.

The carbs from bread and potatoes quickly turn into fat in your body. If youre looking to lose weight WITHOUT spending hours in the gym, its a no-brainer that you take out or reduce these two foods from your diet (eat ½ the serving you typically would). And if you feel like you cant — just dont have them at night (within 5 hours of sleeping).

When you’re eating out, unhealthy, fast-burning carbs like bread and potatoes should be replaced with a vegetable (or low-sugar fruit) and healthy carb.

I asked to replace the potatoes with fruit. Im VERY specific about the type of fruit.

Server: I can replace the potatoes with fruit.
Nagina: Thats great! Can you replace with strawberries?
Server: Oh I can add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples and oranges
Nagina: Can you just replace it with strawberries?
Server: I can do a beautiful blend of berries!
Nagina: Can you just replace it with strawberries?

As you can see, I really wanted those strawberries as a side! Why? Is it because I like the taste better than apples, oranges, or blueberries? Not really. I like those too. Its because strawberries have a FRACTION of the sugar and calories that the other fruits and taste good. Even though its natural sugar — its still sugar and sugar converts to fat.

Tip: If youre making smoothies at home, use ½ cup of strawberries for your fruit addition. Its the best tasting and lowest sugar of most fruit.

I asked for rye bread. Rye bread is one of the healthiest carb options available for breakfast. Rye bread, when compared to wheat bread, will:

  • Decrease hunger and desire to eat more later
  • Cause a lower insulin response (which results in less conversion to fat)
  • Reduce inflammation

Since I just worked out and needed to replenish some energy, I asked for 1 slice of rye bread, because 1 slice has all the carbs I need. Its smarter to fill up on eggs and vegetables and just have a bit of the bread, since bread is not as nutritious as the other parts of my meal.

When the server brought everything exactly as I had ordered, I felt so in control of my body.

3 egg white omelette with onions, spinach and jalapenos and strawberries on the side
3 egg white omelette with onions, spinach and jalapenos and strawberries on the side

My breakfast looked so delicious.

I added the hot sauce and savored each bite. I thanked my server for giving me the breakfast that I had so specifically requested.

You have to be comfortable with asking for what you need to lose weight. Healthy options are NOT as accessible when you’re eating out, but they are there if you ask. This is the year to demand what you need to lose weight.

When I walked out of the restaurant, I had an energetic walk, and felt light and satisfied.

I was so thankful I did not punish my body with the French toast, waffle, or other heavier items. Sure, those options would have tasted good going down, but when I was walking out, my body would have felt so lazy and my mind would have spaced out.

Think about what your body wants — and remember the powerful mind-body connection. Your body and mind will be lighter and faster when you give your body what will make her feel good.

Reward your Mind & Body with this Breakfast for Weight-Loss
Heres 5 quick steps to order your best breakfast for weight-loss when eating out:

  1. Order a 3-egg white omelette (can have 1 yolk if you like)
  2. Fill with onions, spinach and jalapenos (and/or bell peppers)
  3. On the side, order berries (preferably strawberries) OR tomato slices
  4. Optional: Order 1 slice of bread and ask for rye or gluten-free (or whole wheat if you do not like the other options or they’re not available)
  5. Optional: Enjoy with hot sauce

This breakfast/brunch is filling, nutritious, balanced AND delicious.

Let me know in the comments below if you have experienced the mind-body connection to food and/or what you think about this breakfast. If you go out and order this PLEASE let me how it makes you feel in the comments below.

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

Reader Interactions


  1. spk says

    Can you write a post on gluten next?
    That looked yummy

  2. Tulio says

    Great tips Nagina. For breakfast I make smoothies with whey protein, strawberries, Greek yogurt, and almond butter. It’s quick, delicious, full of proteins, burns fat, and helps me with my objectives of growing muscles too. I’m a male, but love your tips! They apply just as well.

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