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How to Use Happiness to Lose Weight

July 1, 2019

How will being happy help us lose weight?  What if I told you happiness is the beginning of successful weight loss?  You see,  our equation for attaining happiness is backwards.  Society tells us that if we lose weight, work hard, gain more success, then we will be happier.  To drive us even further away from happiness though, every time we reach our goal whether it be a sales goal or a promotion, we are off setting the next goal to attain and never celebrating happiness.  This is true of weight too, don't you think?  When were you completely happy with your body?

It turns out we need to be happy first in order to attain success in weight loss, being healthy, career, relationships, and across every category of life.  When we are happy/positive, our energy level rises.  Intelligence and creativity also improves.  With the body and brain working, we are able to focus on health goals and actually do them. 

Across different fields, when people are positive versus negative, neutral, or stressed, they are 31% more productive, report 37% greater sales, and doctors have faster, more accurate diagnosis by 19%.  Being positive, makes us more resilient, less burnt out, and have superior productivity in anything we do including losing weight and being healthy.  Dopamine, as a result of happiness, turns on all learning centers in the brain. 

So, how can we work towards being more positive?  Do this for at least 21 days in a row:

  1. Name 3 new things you're grateful for daily (gratitude)
  2. Journal 1 positive experience daily
  3. Exercise daily (behaviors matter)
  4. Meditate daily (train the brain to focus on one task)
  5. Engage in random acts of kindness (praise or thank someone)

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.   

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

One Ingredient That Drives Over-Eating

June 15, 2019

It's true that the wonderful combination of fat, sugar, and salt makes us eat more and crave more, but research shows what really makes us overeat is super-processed foods. In a small but completely controlled study, those who consume ultra-processed foods consume on average an extra 508 calories more per day and gain 2 pounds over 2 weeks. Compare it to those who consumed unprocessed foods, they lost 2 pounds on average over a 2 week period while consuming the same calories, fat, protein, sugar, salt, carb, and fiber.

Ultra processed foods make us consume more. It's not just the obvious junk but things like Cheerios, white bread, jarred sauces, favored yogurt, frozen sausages, and reconstituted meat. Most Americans look for low cost, convenient, and foods that take the least preparation. That's exactly our problem. Why are we signing up to be cheap, convenient, and easy? We need a complete shift to be healthy. We are worth high quality, time, and energy.

In this study, eating unprocessed diet seem to secrete higher levels of appetite-suppressing hormones (lowers ghrelin which is our hunger hormone). Eating processed food does the reverse. Those who ate processed food also seem to eat faster and more carbs and fats. Eating whole foods is still the key answer to weight loss and health. What's getting in your way of doing this?

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food. 

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

3 Ways to Lose Belly Fat

June 1, 2019

Want to lose belly fat?  Are you doing tons of sit-ups?  That's not going to help.  We cannot target fat reduction.  That only tones the muscles in your abdomen, which is awesome, but it does not reduce fat.  Here are some ideas. 

  1. Regular aerobic exercise.  Regular is the optimal word.  We have to move every day so why not make it easy.
    1. Schedule walking meetings, social physical activities (instead of just meals and happy hours), plan more moving fun.
    2. Take every opportunity to move like taking the stairs, parking far, biking to work, walking around the block, etc.
    3. Focus on 10 minutes.  If you do a few 10 minutes, you'll be golden like dancing, jumping jacks, walking, something you enjoy.
  2. Whole food diet.  Change how you eat without following a fad diet.
    1. Eat slowly and mindfully.  I think this is the hardest for my clients but slowing down makes us eat far less.  Plus, eating without distractions prevents mindless munching.
    2. Start with a salad or vegetables.  Front load the good stuff before consuming the carbs and proteins.
    3. Use a smaller plate.  This really helps with portion control.
  3. Reduce stress.  When stressed, we excrete more cortisol which is more concentrated in our belly.  We don't seem to gravitate towards broccoli when stressed.
    1. Exercise is my stress reliever.  Have you found yours (that is also healthy)?
    2. Gratitude.  Starting my day with gratitude has really changed my attitude on life and myself.  Find your peace.
    3. Let It Go!  It's hard not to sing that since the Frozen movie especially because my daughter sings it all the time.  How do you let go of things you can't control? 

In my office, we address all three but it seems that for most people, we focus on stress and mental health.  When we resolve the underlying stressors, eating well and exercising comes naturally.  I suppose, self-care comes with peace and self-love.  I'd love to support you.  

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.   

~ Samantha Hua, Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach, San Diego, CA  

Cooking Without a Recipe

May 15, 2019

The part about my job that I dread the most is coming up with recipes.  I know that sounds ridiculous considering that my main focus is getting people to cook.

I just love cooking without reading and measuring.  It's so much more fun and for me, less stressful.  Maybe if we walked through the process step-by-step, you'll get excited about cooking without recipes too.

  1. What am I making?  A bowl, a soup, a stir-fry, a "compartmentalized" meal (separated carb, protein, veggies)?
  2. What's my protein?  Beans, tofu, chicken, fish, seafood, turkey, red meat, etc.?
  3. What are my vegetables?  Often time, it's whatever is in my fridge or what might blend well together.
  4. What's my complex carb?  Quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, pasta, soba noodles, barley, etc.?
  5. What country am I cooking?  This helps me figure out the herbs to use.  I always start with onion and garlic sauteed in oil. Below are just a few examples:

Mexican: Chili, cumin, cilantro, oregano, onions 

Italian: Garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary

Chinese: Ginger, star anise, red chili pepper, sesame, garlic

Thai: Basil, Chili, peppers, garlic, turmeric, lemon grass

Indian: Chili, saffron, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cardamom

Moroccan: Turmeric, paprika, cumin, cinnamon 

What if we made cooking that easy?  We blend together all the ingredients we like, pretend we are traveling, and voila...delicious (because you only put in ingredients you love).  I recognize that recipes help to explore/expand and help us feel more comfortable in the kitchen.  Once we get the hang of it, be creative.  Eat mother nature's ingredients that you love.

Get some ideas with these simple free videos:  https://happyfoodhealth.com/healthy-cooking-videos/

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food. 

Women’s Conference & Discount Code

I will be one of the women featured at The SHExperience - Journey to Your Best Self Women's Conference on May 4 & 5 on the University of San Diego campus. The conference will inspire and empower women from all walks of life to discover skills and strategies to live and lead more courageously.


Women have a tremendous amount of power; the power to move things, the power to disrupt, and the power to drive change. Let's tap into that power, harness it, build it, and watch as the ripple effect takes place. Our time is NOW.

There will be multiple "tracks" so you can dig into what feels most relevant to you.  Please click on this link to view a list of the featured speakers, facilitators and workshops:https://bit.ly/2GfGmNb 

Join me and the others. This is your tribe of like-minded women who are willing to roll-up their sleeves and engage deeply and authentically. We aren't afraid of the hard conversations and are willing to speak truth to power in order to promote courage and share our stories. Can't wait to see you there!

Discount Code:  SHE60 for $60 off.

How to Look 25 When You’re 75

May 1, 2019

My title is pretty bold.  That's impossible, right?  A Ball State University study, although small in sample size (70 people), gives us a glimpse of what might be possible with our bodies.

In this study, healthy participants were divided into 3 groups:  (1) 75 year olds who are lifelong exercisers averaging 4 - 6 days per week and 7 hours per week of exercise, (2) 75 year olds who occasionally exercise via leisurely walks or golf, and (3) 25 year olds who are also lifelong exercisers like group 1.  When they put participants on an indoor bike and measured the participants' maximum oxygen uptake which is an indication of aerobic endurance (VO2 max) and they also took a biopsy of a pea-size muscle to examine vessels, capillaries, etc., here were their findings:

  1. Group 1 (lifelong exercisers) at 75 years old had cardiovascular systems that looked 30 years younger.  Interestingly, our ability to process oxygen declines by 10% each decade after age 30.  There's hope!  We can put the breaks on aging.
  2. From the biopsy, they found that the 75 year old lifelong exercisers of Group 1 had the SAME muscle health as the 25 year old lifelong exercisers.  We can look 25 at 75!

The key is to exercise 30 - 60 minutes a day.  Unfortunately, 77% of Americans don't come close to the federal guidelines of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.   

If we want to travel, keep up with our kids/grandchildren, or live out our dreams when you're old, well...we have to start now.   How will you start to take care of your body so that you'll age gracefully, be vibrant your whole life, and have fun with those you love?   Life span is also much longer now.  Can you imagine just sitting and watching the world as you age?  I definitely plan on playing.  Let's focus on self-care first!  Nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction is super important too.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food. 

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Home-cooked When You’re Out All Day

April 15, 2019

We are a busy society.  Between both parents working, kids to shuttle around and all of their activities, no wonder families (or even individuals for that matter) are struggling to eat home-cooked meals.  I enjoy eating out for the social aspect but it is often more oil, salt, sugar, processed, and simply more (portions) even at a healthy restaurant.  Therefore, most of our meals have to come from home if we want to be healthy. 

The root of it all is to figure how we can take more off our plate.  Why are we so busy?  Can we arrange our schedule to simplify a little more?  But some days are simply so and that's that.  I get it!

Here's an example of a day that we had too many things happening.  It may not be your favorite meal but at least you can feel good in your body.

My daughter had a class at 11am on a Sunday.  We as a family normally eat lunch around 11am (because we get up so early) so I packed her a bento box full of veggies/fruit and a backup, simple PB&J sandwich for emergencies ("h-angry").  I over-packed this so that my husband and I can snack too because I know we both would be hungry (she ate most of the berries before I could take the picture).

Since we didn't leave the house until 10:30am, I had time to go for a quick run and get my self-care in.  I put some chicken and cut up big chunks of cabbage and butternut squash in the crook pot with spices/seasonings.  (Do all this the night before if you don't have time in the morning).  Then, I put some rice in the rice cooker.  All of this took a little planning but not much work at all.  You can use different vegetables in your house, different grains (like quinoa), or other types of meat but try to use red meat sparingly for health and environmental reasons. 

We went off to her class and enjoyed our lunch out at 12:30pm.  My family enjoys lunch outings on the weekends.  After lunch, we had a show to attend.  We try not to overbook our days but things happen and this was all fun stuff.  We didn't arrive home until 5:30pm.  My daughter happens to sleep at 6 pm so there would not have been time for cooking.  Thank goodness, we came home to a house smelling like yummy, slow-cooking stew.  Feel free to add a side salad or greens to the stew, etc.  We enjoyed family dinner together and relaxed the rest of the night while she was sleeping. 

Every family is different so you have to adjust to your needs.  If I didn't do this, the alternative would have been eating out for lunch and dinner which doesn't feel great in my body.  Plus, dinner would have been later and we would not be home until after 6:30pm, resulting in a cranky, difficult-to-deal-with toddler.  For you parents, you understand me.  Or the other alternative would be to microwave something quick but we (all of us) aren't quick and convenient.  Plus, I want my family to thrive and it starts with food.  It is the building block of all our cells and the body that we use.

Any new change takes time.  I hope I was able to illustrate that although this took a little planning, that it really wasn't that hard.  After eating clean for a while, your body craves it and you are more and more willing to take the time.  You know why?  Because you are worth it!  You are worth the time, the quality, and care.  Never shame or judge yourself, but do focus on solutions.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food. 

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA


Causes & Solutions for Emotional Eating. Save the date: May 4 – 5

April 1, 2019

Do you eat your emotions?  Let's break that cycle by understanding why we do it and how to resolve it.  At the very least, let's stop doing the things that perpetuate emotional eating.  I'll be speaking on this at the SHExperience Conference on May 4th at 1pm at the University of San Diego, where we will get into your specific situations and work through the process.

Emotional eating is 70% of overeating, hence the weight gain.  Emotional eating stems from not being able to express ourselves or not letting ourselves feel.  We bottle it up and it manifests into habits we can't stop until we address the core issue.  First, check in with yourself...what emotions are you suppressing?

Second, what's causing it or perpetuating it?  Are you on a diet or restricting your food?  Following a diet makes one feel greater anxiety, greater depression, lower self-esteem which then causes inflammation and adds on weight.  These negative and stressful emotions promote greater food intake.  I know when I have these emotions, I tend to sleep poorly too which...you guessed it...leads to cravings, emotional eating, and weight gain. Then we go on a diet because we are sick and tired of the weight we've put on.  You see this vicious cycle.  Let's put an end to it!

Let's talk solutions. 

  • Breathe.  Sounds so easy.  I hold my breath without realizing it though. Do you?  Breathe while you eat.  It gets your metabolism working by turning on that efficient digesting parasympathetic system.
  • Control.  Feel in control.  Learn to listen to your body instead of being ruled by the latest diet.
  • Eat Clean Food.  Emotions improve for those who eat better.  The opposite, positive cycle, begins and you start feeling better, then continue to eat better, and so on.
  • Awareness. Become more aware of your body and your emotions.  What is "eating" to you?  Is it pleasurable, a chore, or guilt.  It's probably obvious given your answer how your body will handle food.  There's a mind-body connection going on here.
  • Joy.  Add more joy.  Eat without technology.
  • Wait Out.  Use the 15-minute "wait out" period and go do something else.  Chances are you've moved on and have forgotten your cravings.

I hope you can join me and many other fabulous speakers as we work on specific process and "get into action" to end emotional eating as well as learning how to lead, nurture, self-care, and accelerate in life. For more information:  http://www.sandiego.edu/soles/conscious-leadership-academy/womens-leadership/shexperience.php  

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.  ~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

What Does Shame Do To Your Diet?

March 15, 2019

I started Happy Food 10 years ago because it seems so sad to watch people torture themselves through so many roller coaster diets.  It's fine if that diet doesn't work and we find something else that suits us better, but the problem with these diets is that we feel tortured, unhappy, and defeated.  Plus if we can sustain our weight loss goal after sustaining these negative emotions, then maybe (?) it's worth it, but we can't sustain these diets.

Let's talk about why these diets don't work (mentally).  Unfortunately as humans, we are hard-wired to focus on the negative for survival.  For the brain, when we feel shame, we (1) go to our default network and (2) shame activates our pain system.  Our default network turns on when we are not focused on performing a specific task.  That default then focuses on "what's wrong with me, what others think of me, and what's wrong with others." 

Shame also activates our pain system.  This prompts the body to shut down.  Shame on the brain leads to pain.  This is why diets focused on shaming us does not work.  When we feel shame, it is difficult to escape negative thinking and use the brain to problem solve. 

We need to do the opposite of shaming.  We focus on success, our strengths, and our goals.  We never shame at Happy Food.  It doesn't work.  Therefore, we never count calories or shame anyone for not accomplishing their goals.  We have to address the barriers, resistance, and root cause of what's truly going on.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food. 

~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA