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Nutritional Remedy for Pandemic Anxiety

September 1, 2020

I can't believe we are almost 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Although so necessary, strategies crucial for public health puts us at greater risk of mental health issues. Humans need social interaction. However, we are forced to maintain distance while going through fear, uncertainty, grief, job loss, and so much more. Consequently, most of us experience stress and anxiety which often leads to poor sleep. And this vicious cycle continues.

Let's talk about what we can do and specifically focus on nutrition and diet to alleviate physical pain, stress, and anxiety. Humans depend on hormones to feel happy and much of this is derived from food. People who live on the Mediterranean diet have less depression than those on less plant-based diets.

Our moods are dictated by 3 things: blood sugar, happy hormones (dopamine/serotonin), and sleep. When we over consume sweets, alcohol, and refined carbs, it results in blood sugar swings which leads to inflammation, lack of energy, and lack of the happy hormones we need to thrive. Fruits and vegetables help stabilize the free radicals in the "junk" that we eat. In addition, vitamin C in foods such as citrus and broccoli help make more serotonin.

Studies show that people who get 7-8 hours of sleep have higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin C & D, and carotenoids. A good way to remember what has high antioxidants is by the vibrant colors. All produce with bright colors have lots of antioxidants. Although cauliflower is white, it still has lots of antioxidants. Try purple cauliflower for more benefits.

The simple solution? Add fruits to breakfast, more vegetables during lunch and dinner, and snack on these too. Nutrition definitely helps relieve stress, anxiety, and depression all the while helping us lose weight and improving our sleep which in turn, improves our mood.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Get the Most Nutrients Out of Your Fruit

August 15, 2020

My family loves fruit especially during the summer when it's so abundant and full of variety.  I was raised by my grandmother and she definitely handed down some wisdom.  Here are some tips on how to pick the best fruit, keep them fresh longer, avoid waste, and how to reap the most flavor too.

Stone Fruits
- Let peaches, plums, apricots, pluots, plumcots, apriums soften in a closed paper bag on the counter until they are slightly soft.  Store them in the fridge if you're not ready to eat them up to delay the ripening process. 
- To prevent mold in cherries, wash them only when you're ready to serve.

Blueberries
- Like cherries, don't pre-wash blueberries for storage.  If you can't eat them all, freeze them on a tray and then transfer to an air tight storage bag in the freezer. 

Melons
Ripe cantaloupes and honeydew melons have a yellowish, creamy color.  Watermelons have a creamy yellow spot on the underside (where it sat on the ground). 

Mangoes
They are ripe when it gives slightly when squeezed.  Sniff for a sweet aroma.  My favorite is Champagne (honey mangoes).  They are smaller and sweeter and less stringy.  Snack on frozen ones if you don't like peeling or cut it on either side, length-wise avoiding the pit and make checker crosses to open up into cut squares. 

Papayas
Let ripen at room temperature until the skin is yellow-orange, cut into chunks, and squeeze fresh lime to allow the acidity to enhance the flavor. 

Kiwis
If you don't like peeling, cut it in half width-wise and scoop it out with a spoon.  With the golden variety, you can eat the skin and it is sweeter.  Gold ones have twice as much vitamin C but green ones have more vitamin K.  Variety is always your friend.  Try kiwi berries too.  They are grape-sized kiwis.

Pineapples
Look for deep green leaves and yellow skin.  Cut them when they smell sweet.  Serve chilled.

Bananas
Keep then on the counter.  If they are too ripe, never throw them away.  Peel, chop, and freeze for smoothies, baking, or other desserts.  Store away from other fruits and wrap the stem with plastic wrap if you don't want them to ripen quickly.

Apples/Pears
The skin has half the amount of the apple's fiber so eat them up. 

Citrus
For grapefruit, look for thin, smooth skin.  The heavier, the juicier they are.  I love Meyer lemons.  They are sweeter and less acidic.  I also enjoy Cara Cara oranges (pink-fleshed oranges), honey tangerines, satsumas, and Sumos (the larger variety). 

I find that all of these fruit go well in salads to add some sweetness and flavor.  They are delicious on their own as snacks, in oatmeal, smoothies, or frozen. 

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Walking Technique for Weight Loss & Clarity

August 1, 2020

Try this way of walking from now on to lose weight and clear your mind. Especially during a pandemic so many of us are more stressed, anxious, depressed, overwhelm, lonely, etc. You're not alone! Although negative emotions are normal, the prolonged stress toll on our body leads to inefficient metabolism, emotional eating, and I'm sure you can fill in the blank.

Try walking in this way to clear your head and reduced the inflammation and stress response in your body. After you've committed to this walking technique, try it during other moments of your life. The goal is to focus on the outward world and not to concentrate inward (in the head).

As you're walking, notice all sensations like sight, sounds, smells, etc. Take in all the senses and pinpoint how that brings you pleasure. For example, I can hear the leaves dancing in the trees and I love that sound. It reminds me of fun hiking adventures. Another example, I smell fresh aromas from someone's window or the sweet scent of flowers. These things all bring me joy.

People who pay more attention to the positive report greater happiness. They report feeling lighter, clear headed. When we take in the good and savor it, the feeling last longer than the event. It sticks with us. Conversely, when we let the negative worries linger in our head, we feed that fire. Because our mind is so powerful, it dictates the functions of our body which if left to fester in negativity can result in greater inflammation, weight gain, poor diet, depression, fatigue, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, insomnia, etc.

Let's take a walk and smell the roses. Stay safe and sane during this COVID time.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Meal Planning Made Simple

July 15, 2020
Planning is key to success.  Let's revisit this topic because people are asking for realistic meal planning solutions. Here are some tips to consider:
  1. Pick a day.  Routine allows us to take action with less thinking.  Pick one day where you plan and shop.  Make this consistent. 
  2. Use your calendar.  Plan ahead knowing how busy you are, when you'll be home, are there visitors or family activities.  Use a crock pot for those busy days where you'll be home late, for example.
  3. Get input.  Let everyone have a say in what they eat.  There's nothing more defeating than working hard on a meal just to have no one touch it.  Solicit ideas.  More participation equals less work on your part. 
  4. Create balanced meals.  I always think what's my protein, whole grain carb, and vegetables.  I start with protein.  Is it chicken, turkey, fish, other seafood, tofu, beans, etc., then I know what carbs I want to add.  Finally, I load it up with a rainbow of vegetable colors. 
  5. Create themes.  I don't always do this but any time we can skip thinking, do it.  We make too many decisions in one day as it is.  For example, Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Crock Pot Wednesdays, Friday Fish, etc.  Don't forget about the weekends too. 
  6. Pre-prep.  I like to at least think about what I'm doing the next day so I know if I need to pull out some meat or fish from the freezer to thaw in the fridge.  Do I need to pre-cut some things if I won't have time tomorrow?  Looking ahead is so valuable.
  7. Only plan one meal a day.  We keep it simple in my house.  We rotate between eggs and oatmeal for breakfast (with the occasional variety on the weekends).  For lunch, we eat leftover dinners.  So...I really only have to think about one meal a day.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Why Perfectionism Slows Metabolism

July 1, 2020

I believe perfectionism is a disease in the health, weight loss, diet, and fitness world (and other segments of society too).  I admit, it's really difficult for me to chat with others in my field.  I used to wonder why I readily run away when a "colleague" tries to talk to me about health.  I think I finally understand why "I don't fit into the mold" and don't want to "talk shop."

In the nutrition, fitness, and health world, people (in general) try too hard.  It's too much for me.  There are all these expectations, measurements, etc. and it then transfers to the general public making them feel like they need to eat perfect and exercise in the perfect way.  This, I believe, sets us up for failure.  We never feel good enough and perfectionism is a very unstable state to reside.  It does NOT last.  When we can't maintain it (which is completely human), then we resort to self-criticism and continuing the all-or-nothing patterns.  Can you relate?  Is this you?  I bet it is because most people in my office fall into this category.

And for those who can maintain perfect, have the perfect body, and eat perfectly all the time, are they truly happy?  They start to feel isolated and distract from the real important stuff in life.  I seriously had to tell a few clients to cheat a little; don't be so strict.  They looked miserable.  Feel miserable and lonely.  I don't want that for anyone.

When we feel miserable, isolated, lonely, our body turns on the fight-or-flight mode and digestion/metabolism slows down.  There is danger in the world that is far more important than efficient metabolism to the body.  Plus, we just cannot maintain this mentally nor physically.  Stop!  Just stop!  Tap into what's really important in your life.  Here are some ideas to start:

  • Stop weighing yourself constantly, counting calories, looking in the mirror, criticizing yourself.  Be kind to yourself; be nice.  Once you do that, you'll be nice to others and be so much more productive and happy and actually feed/move your body in a way that works and sustains.  It's a domino effect.  If you struggle with this balance, please give me a call.  STOP dieting and stop punishing.  Start learning how to take care of your body in a way that works.
  • Mistakes are OK, just own them.  Try to enhance yourself.  I love the quote above.  We are all growth in progress.  Be human!  Be vulnerable.
  • Laugh at yourself.  It's the best person to laugh at.  We are silly; we are messy.
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Top 5 Ranked Fruits

June 15, 2020

I have always advocated for eating fruits; more vegetables than fruit, of course.  There are so many benefits.  They are full of nutrients, protect the heart and brain, easy to eat, delicious, and low calorie.  Don't stop eating them because some people think they are high in sugar.  This natural sweetener helps curb sugar cravings and there's always more fiber than sugar in mother nature's food.  (You'll have to be strict with portions if you have diabetes).

I am a big fan of variety.  Even though I'm sharing the top 5 fruits, please eat them all and focus on variety and eating with the seasons.  Fruits are packed with potassium, vitamin C & K, folate, fiber, carotenoids, lutein, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.  A serving of fruit is typically only 50-100 calories and they fill you up.  Choose to eat the whole food versus drinking juice, smoothie, or eating dried or processed fruits.  The high water content is what keeps the calories low.

My snack is normally a fruit because I just need to tie myself over until the next meal so that I'm not h-angry.  It's just so easy...bananas, apples, berries, tangerines, peaches, etc.  I know pineapples, mangoes, papayas, melons, etc. take more prep time but it's worth it.  They are so delicious and add on to that variety topic I love so much.  I am a mama-bear to a 5-year old so I'm so willing to put in the work so I can pack my family full of nutrients.  But...aren't you worth it too???!!!  So what if you're single, living alone, or whatever your circumstance.  Aren't you equally as important as my super cute 5 year old?!  I think so.  Let's re-frame how we see self-worth and the time it takes to commit to just "me."

Here you go.  Top 5 fruits for each category:

Fiber:  Kumquats, raspberries, pink guavas, blackberries, pomegranates

Vitamin C:  Pink guavas, kiwis, lychees, papayas, strawberries

Potassium:  Pink guavas, bananas, dried apricots, kiwis, dried peaches

Folate: Pink guavas, mangoes, pomegranates, papayas, kiwis

Carotenoids:  Pink guavas, watermelons, papayas, persimmons, red or pink grapefruits

* Study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

~ Samantha Hua, Happy Food

Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Manage Your Sugar Cravings in Easy Steps

June 1, 2020

Sugar cravings are real!  I work with so many clients who struggle to manage their sugar addictions.  Some of it comes from habit and others from boredom, stress, and how we've trained our palate.  Let's address this especially during Covid-19 struggles and since we want to prevent type 2 diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and other illnesses.

Let's focus on prevention, substitution, and self-compassion.

Prevention.  Avoiding sugar is the best way to curb the cravings, but I bet that's super difficult if you feel addicted.  Get it out of the house and focus on eating balanced meals, whole ingredient snacks, and staying hydrated.  The more healthy you eat and have plenty of nutrients, you'll crave less sugar.

Substitution.  Before you reach for processed junk food, bars, cookies, etc., try getting some natural sweetness like berries, fruits, plain yogurt with fresh fruit, dates, super dark chocolate, etc.  Take a moment to think about what tastes good and will also make you feel good too after the fact.

Self-Compassion.  In my office, I find that so many clients work based on shame and judgment.  I can't blame people.  That's how our society works with so many diet programs that shame you when you don't meet the goals of the scale or other measurements.  Unfortunately this just sends us spiraling downwards and wanting more sugar or comfort food to feel better.  It's OK to indulge sometimes but that's where moderation comes in.  Look for quality and quantity.  Focus on how you can be kinder to yourself, speak to yourself nicer, and celebrate all your baby step successes.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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. Check out Yelp for other people's opinion of Happy Food.

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

Making Salads More Delicious

May 15, 2020

I'll be honest.  I don't like ordering salads in restaurants.  I feel like I get a giant pile of lettuce drowning in dressing and very little of the "good stuff."  Lettuce is so boring to me so of course you have to drown it in dressing to make it taste good.  I also don't blame those who need a thick, creamy dressing.  Eating boredom is no way to be healthy.  Remember, use nutrition to your advantage but don't go on a diet for weight loss and sacrifice taste.  Use some of these ideas to make your salads more satisfying.
  • I like turning my favorite meals into a salad.  I also like to add salads to spoof up my leftovers.  I feel lighter and still get my fix.  For example, want sushi?  Add salmon, tuna, shrimp, brown rice, ginger, edamame, crab meat, avocado, cucumber, etc.  Want Gyros, add roasted meat with romaine, feta cheese, red onions, tomatoes, etc.  Want burger, add lean beef/turkey/veggie burger to lettuce, tomato, pickles, avocado, blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, etc.  Be creative.  I couldn't live on a lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad diet.
  • Add side dishes.  If you love roast veggies, try adding brussel sprouts, roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes, or grilled asparagus to your salad.  Think about your favorite side dish.
  • Do you love breakfast?  Add poached eggs with warm spinach to your salad plus honeydew or cantaloupe.
  • Add protein.  Sure there's fish, beef, chicken, etc. but don't forget plant-based options like tofu, chick peas, black beans, lentils, etc.
  • Make it hearty. Make your salad bed out of warm whole grains such as quinoa, barley, farro, brown rice, wild rice, etc and top with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, eggplants, green beans, beets, etc.
  • Add some crunch.  Try toasted pecans, walnuts, pumpkins, sunflower seeds, jicama, green apples, bell peppers, or homemade croutons.
  • Add sweetness.  Add seasonal fruits such as berries, peaches, figs, cantaloupe, honeydew, tangerines, grapefruits, pears, mangoes, pineapples, pomegranates, etc.  Or try shredded coconuts, dried fruits, or roasted beets.
  • Add pickles.  Experiment with pickling your own vegetables besides cucumber, olives, artichoke hears.  Quick pickling adds fermentation benefits to your gut.  Try pickled cauliflower, asparagus, beets, cabbage, red onions, okra, radish, and pretty much any vegetable can turn into a yummy pickled dish.
  • Add herbs. Try adding dill, basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, green onions, or chives.
As you can see, the options are endless.  Of course you wouldn't do all of these but swap out different ingredients and create a theme.  Is it an Asian crunch salad (fish, cabbage, carrots, sesame seeds, tangerines, peanuts, mint) or a grilled salad (grilled eggplants, zucchini, bell pepper, mushroom, figs over greens, meat or chickpeas, and farro) or Mexican bowl (black beans, avocado, corn, jalapeños, jicama, mangoes over romaine lettuce or quinoa?  You get the idea.  Please make your food delicious.  No more dieting.  Focus on nutrition and recognize that we all have different taste buds.  Once the ingredients are delicious to YOU, you don't need to drown it in dressing.  Just olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper will do.

If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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

Boost Your Immune System With Simple Ways to Add Nutrients

May 1, 2020

Nutritionist, Healthy EatingDo you love vegetables?  If you do, I bet you're still not eating enough.  If you don't like them, let's start changing your palate.  Adding vegetables every day is such a simple way to boost our immune system, fight viruses/bacteria, inflammation, and lose weight.  Here are some simple ways to eat lots of vegetables with ease and enjoy it.  That's right!  It still needs to taste good and can't be too cumbersome, but cumbersome is relative and a matter of putting systems in place.
  • Subscribe to a CSA box weekly or every other week.  It's a great way to eat your fruits and vegetables and try new ones too.  I use Be Wise Ranch and love them.  Try other ones that have pick up stations near you.
  • Use raw vegetables instead of chips, pita, bread, and crackers.  I love Persian cucumbers with hummus or baba ghanoush, for example.  Use greens as a wrap instead of tortilla or sandwiches.  I don't believe in zero carbs but I do believe that processed carbs can lead to weight gain, feeling bloated, and potentially eating too much.  Vegetable snacks help us feel much lighter and we reap lots more nutritional reward. This shift is much better than dieting.
  • Have a side salad with every meal.  Prep it in advance in jars.  I also love arugula, cucumber, peppers on the side with my eggs.  Figure out what sounds good to you.
  • Add vegetables to everything and even double the recipe.  You can top any dish with kale, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, peas, etc.  Add double the vegetables to eggs, pasta, rice, or even pizza.
  • Nothing wrong with frozen vegetables.  Add a bunch to soups, scrambles, pastas, rice dishes, etc.  I don't love all frozen vegetables but I do like peas, carrots, corn, spinach, artichoke hearts, edamame.  Again, the trick is to figure out what YOU like and the textures that work for YOU.
  • What vegetable dishes sound super yummy to you?  Are you the cream of broccoli type or the roasted brussel sprouts type?  That's a nice clue into where you can expand.  Maybe you love roasting your vegetables.  Maybe you love throwing everything into a broth or creamy soup.
  •  Prep for the week.  Yes, it's best to have fresh vegetables daily but I'd rather see you eat them and use any method that works for your busy schedule.  Wash, chop, roast, or even freeze vegetables for the week.  Pre-chopping and having it all ready has really helped some of my clients.  Others will actually have them all roasted, cooked, and ready to go for the week.
  • Add veggies for breakfast.  Add spinach, kale, etc. to omelets, frittatas, or have them on the side.
  • Drink your veggies.  Add lots of greens and some fruit to your smoothies.  This isn't something we do often in our home because I believe we are better off chewing our food.  It helps regulate how much we eat and the chewing process helps with digestion, however, I understand that it's a good breakfast in a pinch. Subscribe more to an eating diet versus a drinking diet when you can for weight loss and wellness.
  • Store veggies on the top shelf in plain sight.  If it's in front of us, we are more likely to eat them.
Happy eating!  Enjoy your nutrition and find the attitude that will sustain this practice in the long run.
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, 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