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Can’t lose weight? Change your mindset

December 1, 2020

Have you tried to lose weight, be healthy, or eat a proper diet but just end up feeling like you’ve failed again and again?  Some of it is education and understanding our food politics in the U.S.  It really is difficult to eat well when there are so many foods on the market that is unhealthy or as I sometimes tell my clients “not fit for human consumption.”  Education is very important and we address that heavily, but there’s another key component to success – our mindset. 

Most of my clients have the all-or-nothing mindset.  Life just isn’t so.  We should never aim to be perfect because we can’t sustain it.  Instead, we have to learn to work with our brain so it will grow and therefore, we will succeed in our health and weight loss goals. When we have a fixed mindset, we eat more or even give up all together when we “failed” or when we don’t accomplish our goals “now.”  Instead, focus on the power of “yet.”  The results are yet to come and abilities can be developed.  A growth mindset leads to success while a fixed one leads to self-sabotage, emotional eating, and the dreaded weight gain.

Here are some ideas to start you off on a growth mindset:

  • Praise the process. If it doesn’t come easily, that does not mean you will not be good at it.  See it as a challenge.  You can grow!
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone. This leads to new neuron connections and future success. 
  • Believe that you can improve and that failure is inevitable in order to grow. I see it as a journey and not failure.  You fail if you give up. 
  • Try new strategies. If your approach doesn’t work, try something else.  Reframe it.

Those who have fixed mindsets run away when it feels difficult or choose to disengage.  When we don’t engage, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot and game over.  At Happy Food, changing the way we think about ourselves, our goals, actions, challenges, mind, body are key components to successfully lose weight, eat healthy, and maintain it all with ease.

Get a free health consultation.  See if this is the right match for you by addressing weight loss, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck.

For more articles, read https://happyfoodhealth.com/blog.

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

Prevent COVID-19 High Risk Factors Through Diet

November 15, 2020

We can prevent hospitalization and even death if we contract COVID-19 since many high risk factors are often diet-related diseases.  First, let’s take a look at the average American health statistics.  Brace yourself.  Healthy Americans are the minority.  Let’s take a look.  Where do you fall?

  • Excess weight. Normal weight adults are the minority, unfortunately.  Adults: 26% normal weight, 2% underweight, 32% overweight, 40% obese.  Children:  3% underweight, 61% normal weight, 17% overweight, 19% obese. 
  • Diabetes: 13% of adults (27% among people 65 and older).  Pre-diabetes:   35% of adults (47% among 65 and older). 
  • High blood pressure: 46 % of adults (78% among those 65 and older)
  • High LDL cholesterol: 29% of adults
  • Bone loss. Women 50 years and older:  30% healthy bones, 53% low bone mass, 17% osteoporosis.  Men 50 years and older:  59% healthy bones, 36% low bone mass, 5% osteoporosis. 
  • Reduced muscle strength. 11% of adults 60-79 years and 49% of adults 80+ years.

What can we do to improve our immune system, get healthy, and therefore bounce back easily?  Over the years, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet seems to be the diet that is most sustainable and effective.  I don’t consume as many calories and mine is more varied on a day to day basis.  This is a 2,100 calorie model includes:

  • 11 servings of produce (1 serving: 1/2 cup veggies, 1 cup greens, or 1 fruit)
  • 4 of grains (1 serving = ½ cup pasta/rice, 1 slice bread)
  • 2 of legumes/nuts (1 serving = 1/2 cup beans, ¼ cup nuts)
  • 1 of lean meat/fish (1 serving = 1/4 lb cooked)
  • 2 of oils/fats (serving = 1 TBSP)
  • 2 of desserts (1 serving = 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 wild card (1 serving anything)
  • 2 of dairy (1 serving = 1 cup yogurt or 1.5 oz cheese) – I don’t believe this is necessary but it’s fine in moderation if you don’t have an allergy.

Although I’m sharing the DASH diet portions, I don’t believe in measuring every bite and turning eating into a science.  Eating is a behavior and we can change those habits and mindsets over time so that we can thrive.  Nutrition is a science that we can learn from, but we have to recognize that we are not robots.  At least, I don’t want to be one when I’m eating.  I want to enjoy my food and naturally gravitate towards what’s good for me. 

Get a free health consultation. See if this is the right match for you by addressing weight loss, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck. For more articles, read www.HappyFoodHealth.com/blog.

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

Effects of Diet on Your Brain

November 1, 2020

How does nutrition and diet affect the brain?  The brain is only 2% of our body weight but it requires 20% of energy we consume.  When our mental function declines, it can be an initial indicator of nutritional deficiency.  Nutrition plays a huge role in determining brain health, mood, sleep, weight, attention, and development.

It’s important to understand the different components that make up the brain.  It’s mostly made up of fat followed by proteins, amino acids, glucose, and micronutrients. 

Omega 3 and 6 are derived from nuts, seeds, and fatty fish which helps create and maintain cell membrane.  Trans-fat and saturated fat, on the other hand, damages our brain.  The protein and amino acids are essential for brain growth and development.  It uses neurotransmitters to regulate mood, sleep, weight, and attentiveness.  This is why we need a diverse range of food that balances these combinations to include micronutrients.  Micronutrients have antioxidants that fight against free radicals which destroys brain cells.  Things like B6, B12, folic acid, iron, copper, zinc, sodium all attribute to a healthy brain.

The brain also needs carbs since it requires so much energy.  Carbs consists of starch, sugar, and fiber.  The perfect combination like oats, grains, and legumes help keep our attention steady.  The opposite is true if we eat high glycemic foods such as white bread.  We see a spike in our blood sugar and then a crash leading to drastic change in mood and attention. 

Food is medicine for the brain and our whole body.  What would you miss out on in life if you didn’t eat healthy?  What would you gain if you made lifestyle changes?  I’d love to hear it.  Let me know.

Get a free health consultation.  See if this is the right match for you by addressing weight loss, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck.

For more articles, read https://happyfoodhealth.com/blog

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

Do I Eat Only When I’m Hungry?

October 15, 2020

I’ve heard this so many times, “eat only when you’re hungry.”  I definitely advocate for listening to your body.  It self regulates and know what’s good for you and when it’s enough IF you listen.  But I think that eating is so much more than just for hunger.  I think we eat to cover pain (loneliness, stress, boredom, overwhelm, depression, etc.) and to feel joy (celebrations and fun times).  I think that when we treat ourselves like robots, we fail.  Well…because we are NOT robots.  When we give ourselves permission to be human, we actually succeed in weight loss, diet, and health.  It’s the restriction and denial that leave us spiraling south into binging and self-sabotage. 

I see the evidence in my office.  When we tell ourselves to only eat when we’re hungry, we start craving.  And for some, it may lead to binging.  And for the extremes, it can lead to eating disorders.  Let’s recognize that there are other reasons why we want to eat…and it’s absolutely normal:

  • Pleasure/Joy. I love food.  It’s so yummy.  And food with good memories?  Even better.  Don’t take the joy from life.  Grandma’s baking, Thanksgiving, Christmas dinners, cultural and social festivals, all great things we don’t need to give up.
  • Habit. How we eat creates a rhythm for our brain and digestive tract.  Our family eats right on the clock, only because we are starving and it’s our routine (6:30am, 11am, and 5pm).  Apologies to all our friends who had to adjust to us.  Our brain has definitely adjusted to our habits so create habits you’d like to keep.
  • Emotions. We eat during negative times and to celebrate.  This is so normal!  When we accept that it’s normal, we seem to “do better.”  We accept this and move forward with finding better coping skills instead of beating our heads trying to count the perfect calories and feeling like we’ve failed because the strategy isn’t working.  We cannot eat perfect, and do not need to. 
  • Nutritional Deficiency. While in Niger, Africa for over 2 years, I actually gained weight.  Whoa??!!  It’s a country lacking in food.  How can I gain weight?  90% of my diet was carb.  My body kept craving more food and I just couldn’t feed it enough to feel satisfied.  For most of the year, my vegetable was an onion.  I lived on millet and pasta.  If you’re not eating the right foods, you will keep craving.

I think these needs are legitimate.  We can’t just ignore them, otherwise they come back with a vengeance.  Our brain is hardwired to want sugars, salts, fats, and connections with friends.  We can NOT eat perfect.  It doesn’t work.  With all my clients, restriction leads to binging and therefore, weight gain.  Those who subscribe to mainstream diet mentality, struggle forever.  Those who grasp this concept of acceptance but with education, habit change, and mental shifts find themselves much more successful with weight loss and long-term health goals.

If what you’re doing feels hard, maybe it’s not you but your strategy.  We need pleasure.  Change your strategy so it’s not impossible but more of your habit with the acceptance of being human and a need for joy.  

Get a free health consultation. See if this is the right match for you by addressing weigh loss, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck.

For more articles, read www.HappyFoodHealth.com/blog.

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

How to Order Healthier Restaurant Food

October 1, 2020

How do we eat out and be healthy?  We can’t.  But don’t despair; there are ways to make it better.  Plus if you’re like the rest of us, you like having a balance between a nutritious diet and a social life and not having anxiety/guilt around food. 

Restaurant, processed, and convenience food all have excessive amounts of sugar, salt, chemicals, and larger portions.  Home cooked is the best form of healthy eating.  Here are just a few tips to help make it better when you do go out or takeout:

  • Order veggie heavy items at Chinese, Thai restaurants for example. With salads, go for darker greens versus iceberg/romaine.  Get the dressing on the side. 
  • Avocadoes and salsas have more benefits than drowning with excessive cheese and sour cream.
  • Avoid deep-fried. Opt for grilled, steamed, baked instead of battered or breaded. 
  • Use veggies for your appetizer dips instead of pita, bread, etc.
  • Go for thin crust instead of deep dish. Cauliflower crust has equal calories due to the heavy amounts of cheese.
  • One carb is enough and try to stick to whole grains. We often order combinations such as pasta and bread, burger buns and fries, tortillas and chips and/or rice, naan and rice, etc.  Leave some carbs behind.
  • If it’s takeout, sauté some veggies as a side dish and spread the item over two meals.
  • Order less red meat.

These are just a few ideas.  I’m more interested in helping you maintain these habits easily along with the desire and ease of cooking.  After all, implementation is more crucial than knowledge.  Get a free health consultation.  See if this is the right match for you by addressing weigh loss goals, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck.

For more articles, read www.HappyFoodHealth.com/blog.

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

Simple Habit For Weight Loss & a Productive Day

September 15, 2020

What if there's a very simple habit you can start now to advance your weight loss goals, health goals, or even having more productive workdays?

During office visits, many of my clients can't wait to share how they messed up. And when they are successful, they are quick to move on to the next challenge. With an average of 72,000 thoughts a day, what we focus on shapes our narrative. To prevent us from ruminating on our lack of progress and being in a rut, we can shift by reflecting on our daily accomplishments and set up for greater success.

In a study with over 200 people over 4 months, participants were asked to journal about their work day. When they wrote about their progress, they were more likely to feel happier, naturally motivated, and see obstacles as challenges versus threats. In another study, people were paid for each Lego structure they built. The first group had their structures neatly displayed and the second group had theirs dismantled. The first group continued to be more motivated to build more although both groups were paid equal amounts. Seeing progress provides us a sense of purpose.

If you have a tendency to focus on your failures and mistakes, please make sure to take the time to acknowledge or even write down your small wins daily. I know that when I focus on my losses, I get down and I might give up all together. Sounds like the culprit to the yo-yo diet pattern, right? And during a pandemic, there are so many other emotions and restrictions, so focus on your wins for work, diet, and any goal. The mind is powerful which is why at Happy Food, we focus on much more than just nutrition. For more articles, read www.HappyFoodHealth.com/blog.

Get a free health consultation.  See if this is the right match for you by addressing weigh loss goals, cravings, emotional eating, balanced diet, disease prevention, and getting to the root cause of what's keeping you stuck.

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

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

Storage Tips: Waste Less Food

April 15, 2020

We waste so much food and so many of use DO feel bad about it.  Plus, it hurts our wallets too. Here are some tricks:

What can you freeze? (Label & Date)
Store nuts, bread, butter, meat, fish, poultry, and blocks of hard cheese in the freezer.
Freeze milk.  Shake thawed milk if the fat separated. 
Freeze chicken/vegetable stock in ice cubes, then store in zip lock bags. 
Blanch vegetables before freezing to preserve their flavor.
Peel ripe bananas before freezing.  Toss frozen chunks in smoothies, or thaw for cooking/baking.
Freeze berries on a tray so they don't stick together.  Transfer them to airtight container.
Chop peaches, melon, mangoes, pineapple, and other fruits before freezing.
Freeze lightly beaten eggs in airtight container and thaw in fridge to use as scrambled eggs or cooking.
Pack ice cube trays half full with fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, basic, etc) then top with olive oil.  Transfer frozen cubes to airtight container/bag.

Reduce Restaurant Wastes & Calories:
Don't eat more to waste less. Most entrees are over 1,000 calories.  Bring your own to-go box for leftovers or split an entree with a friend but definitely pass on the buffets. 

Reduce Shopping Waste:
3 avocados for $5?  You probably don't need to buy them all to get the promotional price.  Plan meals ahead to avoid overbuying.  Buy frozen fruit for smoothies.

Waste-Free Kitchen Tips
Greens (kale, spinach, beet greens, etc.) on the verge of going bad?  Saute or steam them to give them new life.
Revive wilted greens by putting them in ice water for 5 minutes
Soft apples/pears?  Peel, core and place in a pot with a little water, then heat and mash for apple sauce.
Leftover herbs.  Add to salads, sandwiches, garnish in soups or make pesto.
Need to clean out your vegetables?  Create a stir-fry.
Eat up the pantry and use up grains and canned goods quarterly.
Before traveling, eat up your perishables, give them to friends or take them along.
Keep container in freezer for scraps (carrots, onions, celery, herbs, garlic, poultry bones, etc.) and make stock. 

Storage Tips
"Eat First" area in your fridge where you're most likely to see leftovers
Store fresh herbs (parsley/cilantro) in a glass of water like cut flowers.
Store mushrooms in paper bag or in open container
Onions can make potatoes sprout.  Keep them apart.
Bananas and apples can make other fruits ripen.  Separate them.
Store oils you use often (olive) in cool, dark place.
Keep oils you use infrequently (sesame or walnut) in the fridge.
Store leftovers in clear containers o you can see what they are.
"Best by" dates are for food quality not safety. Judge by look/smell before tossing. 

Compost
You can compost fruit, vegetable scraps, pasta, bread, cereal, egg shells, coffee grounds, paper plates, and more.  Go to EPA link for more help:  https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

(Above information shared from Nutrition Action, 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 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

Calculate Your Plant Protein Needs

April 1, 2020

Protein is the buzz word for weight loss and diets. Everyone pushes protein shakes and fear of not getting enough. No doubt it is important because protein builds and repairs tissues. It's in every cell, but we actually don't need that much. A healthy woman needs 45 grams of protein, while a healthy man needs 52 grams. Yet surveys show that our average intake is 75 grams for woman and 100 grams for men. One note is that protein can't be stored for later use unlike carbs and other nutrients so we want to consume protein throughout the day. Extra protein, however, won't lead to building muscle but rather potential weight gain because of excess calorie consumption.

It's best to resort to eating more plant: good for your health, the planet and animals. A cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein and green peas have 9 grams. Vegetables, whole grains, and nuts also have lots of protein. Here's a list of examples. Mix and match them for delicious meals and snacks. Use Calculator to figure out your protein needs: https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dri-calculator/index.php

Nuts/Seeds (1/4 cups) - Protein (grams)

Chia Seed 12

Hemp Seed 10

Flax Seed 8

Sunflower Seed 8

Salba 7.4

Almond 7

Pumpkin Seed 7

Sesame Seed 7

Pistachio 6

Walnut 5

Brazil Nut 5

Hazelnut 5

Pine Nut 4

Cashew 4

Cooked beans (1 cup) - Protein (g)

Lentil 18

Adzuki 17

Cannellini (white beans) 17

Cranberry bean 17

Navy Bean 16

Split Peas 16

Anasazi 15

Black Bean 15

Garbanzos 15

Kidney Bean 15

Great Northern 15

Lima Beans 15

Pink Beans 15

Black-eyed Peas 14

Mung Beans 14

Pinto Beans 14

Green Peas 9

Cooked Grains (1 cup) - Protein (g)

Triticale 25

Millet 8.4

Quinoa 8

Amaranth 7

Oat, bran 7

Wild Rice 7

Rye Berries 7

Whole Wheat Couscous 6

Bulgar Wheat 6

Buckwheat 6

Teff 6

Oat Groats 6

Barley 5

Brown Rice 5

Spelt 5

Cooked Vegetables - Protein (g)

Corn (1 large cob) 5

Potato (with skin) 5

Mushroom, Oyster (1 cup) 5

Collard Greens (1 cup) 4

Peas (1/2 cup) 4

Artichoke (medium) 4

Broccoli (1 cup) 4

Brussel Sprouts (1 cup) 4

Mushroom,Shitake (1 cup) 3.5

Fennel (1 medium bulb) 3

Swiss Chard (1 cup) 3

Kale (1 cup) 2.5

Asparagus (5 spears) 2

String Beans (1 cup) 2

Beets (1 cup) 2

Sweet Potato (1 cup) 3

Cabbage (1 cup) 2

Carrot (1 cup) 2

Cauliflower (1 cup) 2

Rutabaga 2

Squash 2

Celery (1 cup) 1

Spinach (1 cup) 1

Bell Peppers (1 cup) 1

Cucumber (1 cup) 1

Eggplant (1 cup) 1

Leeks (1 cup) 1

Lettuce (1 cup) 1

Okra (1/2 cup) 1

Onion (1/2 cup) 1

Avocado medium 4

Passion fruit (1 cup) 5

Pomegranate 5

Dates (1 cup) 3.6

Cantaloupe (1 cup) 1.5

Nectarine 1.5

Orange 1.2

Firm tofu (1/2 cup) 10

Tempeh (1/2 cup) 15

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

Nutritional Fads or Facts?

March 15, 2020

Every year there's a new fad, new research, and the latest trend for healthy eating or weight loss.  Some say it's good, then others say it's bad.  Which diet should I follow?  It's confusing so let's break it down.  My answer, however, is always moderation; enjoy it and nothing in the extreme.

Meatless Meats
I love the idea of eating less meat for our health, the environment, and reducing animal cruelty.  Please eat more plants!  As for our health, meatless meats are actually 4X higher in salt than regular beef and has the same amount of saturated fat.  It's also highly processed food and requires chemicals to extract the protein.  Plus, they've extracted the fiber too so just stick to eating more plant-based whole foods.  (See next month's newsletter for more ideas.)

Intermittent Fasting
The idea is to eat in an 8-hour period and fast the remainder 16 hours.  No solid evidence show this is the best weight loss method but my problem with these fads is that people don't listen to their own bodies.  No one diet is perfect for everyone.   I met a guy who does this fast but doesn't start eating until 4pm.  We don't want our body digesting into the late hours because those organs are slowing down and getting our body ready for bed, not digestion.  Another woman I met is trying so hard to do this but she gets hungry so she skips breakfast and craves all sorts of food and resorts to sugary, fatty foods to compensate when she does eat. 

Many cultures have used fasting as a spiritual ritual and we can certainly use it to jump start our system.  I fear this is yet another calorie restriction for weight loss that doesn't sustain and leads to more weight gain.  Learn to listen to your body. 

Eggs:  Good or Bad?
It seems like there's dueling research on eggs.  I believe moderation is your answer.  Of course, if you smoke, don't exercise, and eat lots of red meat, those eggs will put you on cholesterol overload.

Other Hyped Foods
Acai is claimed to have tons of antioxidants.  They are expensive.  Enjoy them but there isn't conclusive data on their magic.  Well, I don't believe in magical foods; just eat a nice variety.  Blueberries, kelp, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, etc. all have lots of antioxidants.

Coconut water is a great electrolyte high in potassium.  It can add a lot of calories if you drink too much of it in place of water and hurt the wallet too.  A banana is equally great.  I love coconut water.  What a treat, but I don't consume it after every workout.  You get my point.  Enjoy it but don't fall for the fad and overdo it while killing your pocket book unnecessarily.

Agave is very high in fructose.  Use small amounts and limit your daily added sweeteners in general.

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

Unmotivated to Exercise? Try This.

March 1, 2020
If you're not used to exercise, it can feel overwhelming to start.  But even if you're an avid exerciser, you're still at risk of heart disease if you sit for a living so listen up.  For every hour of sitting, we increase our coronary artery calcification by 14%.  Over time, this narrows the artery and leads to heart disease.  So hitting the gym hard doesn't offset 9 hours of sitting for work yet just 2 minutes per hour of movement can really reduce the risk of death by 33%.
Here are some ideas to start moving throughout the day:
  • Wear a pedometer
  • Schedule walking meetings
  • Pace when you're on the phone
  • Set reminders to walk
  • Speak to a co-worker in person instead of sending an email.
  • Be mindful of what you do after work.  Don't do more sitting (and watching TV).  Plan for fun, moving activities.
With these small, necessary movements throughout the day, we still need some exercise that elevates our heart rate.  Do you struggle to get or stay motivated?  Well, focus on fun!  What's fun to you?  We are all different so don't do what's right for someone else.  I love team sports, I love the outdoors, I love being with people who make me happy.  What about you?  Focus your exercise on what makes you happy.  Here are some tips:
  • Find a buddy.  Funny how we can let ourselves down but it's harder to let someone else down.  Plus, it's more fun with someone else.
  • Find a routine.  Schedule it in your calendar.  You are worth self-care!
  • Music is key.  Music helps me work a little harder and a little longer too.  Find what you like.  I also like listening to my audible books or podcast.  Learn to understand YOU and your needs/wants/desires.  No need to be like everyone else.
  • Shake it up.  Don't do the same things.  For example, sometimes I play beach volleyball.  Other days, I swim, run, Zumba, hike, kayak, etc.  You get the message.  Make it fun and you won't call it exercise.
  • Where, What, When, How. Who.  Know what to expect.  Find the "where" that jives with you.  I love the outdoors but if it's dark and cold, I might opt for the gym in the winter.  Figure out "what" you're doing, "when" you're doing it, and "how" long, and with "whom."
Good luck!!  Make it fun!!  Let me know how it goes and you must absolutely plan the exact time otherwise something else will always take over.  You are the most important and you can do this! 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 Coach & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA

9 Climate-Friendly Food Tips

February 15, 2020
Completely derived from centerforfoodsafety.org
This earth is amazing so we have to take care of mother earth for us and future generations.  Often time we watch the news and feel helpless but there are lots of things within our control.  Focus on things you can control.  If we all did a little, it would add up to so much, plus you would reap the health benefits too.
 
PDF Link if you'd like to post it at home or work kitchen.
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

8 Habits of People Who Stay Lean Easily

February 1, 2020

Has weight loss been a struggle for you?  Do you look at some thin people and wonder how they make it look so easy while you have tried numerous diets just to gain back all the weight plus more? 

First let's start with the story you tell yourself.  Are you guilty of saying "it's just my body type" or "I can't lose weight because of my genes?"  Our thoughts are everything.  Change your words, and your life will change. Take that control and empowerment back!  It's easier said than done but we have to start lovingly feeding ourselves more productive, compassionate words.  As we adjust our words to prevent self-sabotage, we also focus on our habits.  These are habits that make weight loss and being lean/fit so natural and one day, even easy.  Try them and get support.

  1. Give up dieting.  I tell my clients, the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet.  It does NOT work so just give it up.  A strict diet leads us to eat more and we can't sustain it for life.
  2. Home-cooked.  It's nearly impossible to be healthy when we rely on corporations and restaurants to cook for us.  Whole, real food allows our body to self-regulate.  Collect your top 5 - 10 recipes and change up the protein, vegetables, and whole grains.  Find EASY meals that you enjoy.  I love simple.
  3. Movement.  We have to move DAILY.  We are too sedentary.  Focus on 10,000 steps and doing things you enjoy so that you'll keep doing them.  Don't hit workouts that you hate.  It won't last; you'll just quit and where does that lead you?  Plus, if you over-exercise, you end up burning muscle instead of fat. Stay within your optimal fat-burning range.
  4. Grocery shopping.  Get into the habit of making this regular.  When there's good food at home, we will eat it.  When we aren't prepared, then we hit the fast food or convenience.  Everyone blames discipline but I don't focus on discipline at all.  It's all about the mind, habits, and planning.  You do NOT lack discipline so stop telling yourself that.  Demand fresh food for yourself; you are worth it.
  5. Chew & mindful.  Sounds so easy but oh so hard to do.  Chew your food and eat mindfully (not multi-tasking).  You'll see that you eat far less without even trying.  You'll be full with less and walk away satisfied.  Why not taste it, enjoy it, and slow down enough to live life...maybe with a smile and a light heart while eating.
  6. Smaller plates.  It's that simple.  We fill our plates.  Use a smaller plate and our visual perception tricks us to think we have plenty of food on the plate to satisfy us.  Use a large plate of the same serving and you'll feel deprived.
  7. Don't be fooled by health claims.  Food manufacturers will say anything on the label to get you to buy.  Not only will you buy the product but it has a halo effect that gives you license to cheat because you've been good.  It happens to the best of us.  It's just human nature (research proven). 
  8. Keep the junk away.  Don't have it around and you won't be tempted.  Why do we torture ourselves by having our favorite treats around expecting we won't eat them.  If they are my weakness, I will eat them. So simple.  Have lots of fruits and vegetables readily available at all times.

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

Type 2 Diabetes Is Reversible

January 15, 2020

1 in 8 adults have diabetes and another 1 in 3 have pre-diabetes. In some people, both are reversible. You want to prevent this because diabetics have twice the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as higher risk of blindness, kidney failure, and losing toe, foot, or leg. Bottom line, it's worth taking care of your health.

A study was done with those who have been diagnosed with diabetes within 6 years and one group was offered the usual diet control advice while the other group ate a very low calorie diet (850 calories/day). In this study, they gave them 600 calories from a packet and the rest (250 calories) from salads. The second group also stopped diabetes medication on day one. After 12 - 20 weeks on the low calorie diet followed by 2 - 8 weeks of added solid foods and weight maintenance for 2 years, 46% of participants had no diabetes compared to only 3% of the control (first) group. Please talk to your doctor before getting off medication.

The key is weight loss. Just 1/2 hour of brisk walking DAILY can lower your risk. And if you have diabetes, get up and move every 1/2 hour.

Prioritize your health to prevent/reverse this epidemic disease. Interestingly after 3 years, the risk of diabetes was 58% lower in the group who changed their lifestyle (low-calorie weight loss diet and 150 minutes/week of exercise). And...71% lower for the group that's over 60 years old. Taking Metformin cut the risk of diabetes by only 31%, all of which was compared to a placebo group.

Good luck with your 2020 journey to not just better health but a thriving life.

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

How to Prevent the Flu Once Exposed to the Virus?

January 1, 2020

Did you know that when people are exposed to the cold or flu virus, only some will get infected?  Wouldn't you want to be in the category of those uninfected?  Being sick sucks!  Sign me up to not get sick.

The cold/flu is an upper respiratory infection caused when someone coughs or sneezes by you or you touch a contaminated area then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.  The most important tips are to stay away from sick people, wash your hands with soap and water (not antibacterial soap), and get the flu shot.

In a study where they put the cold virus in people's nose, 75% of them became infected but only 30% actually got sick.  Why? 

  • Stress. Those who reported high stress before being exposed to the virus experienced worse cold symptoms.  Beyond self-rated high stress, those going through unemployment, marital problems, and other stressful events also got sick.  Plus, those who meditate regularly report 20% fewer respiratory infections.
  • Sleep.  Those who got 6 or less hours of sleep were 4 times more likely to get sick than those who got 7 or more hours. 
  • Exercise. Data shows that people who exercise regularly get fewer respiratory infections.  The regular exercisers also experience 23% shorter illness.  They got sick for less days.

If you do get sick though, stay home, rest, let the body heal, hydrate, and eat home-cooked whole foods full of nutrients.  No drugs will help since colds/flu are caused by a virus so taking antibiotics will only breed resistant bugs.  Be careful with other over the counter drugs as antihistamines and cough suppressants can cause dizziness and drowsiness.  Decongestants can cause insomnia.  Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can cause stomach ulcers or kidney problems.  Mucus and runny nose is your body's way of fighting the germs.  Rest and treat it well, so the body can do it's job in healing.  As a matter of fact, the immune system excretes cytokines to make you feel tired so the it has more energy to fight off viruses.  So just rest.     

 

It's not a coincidence that the same strategies prevent sickness, heals sickness, and also help us lose weight.  It's nice that being healthy is all the same and doesn't contradict itself.   

 

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

Holiday Orthorexia Interrupting Your Weight Loss?

December 15, 2019

"Orthorexia is defined as an eating disorder characterized by having an unsafe obsession with healthy food."  Yes, most of us may chuckle that we have the opposite problem but I want to make sure that over the holidays, we don't fall into this trap and end up gaining weight. 

I'd like to describe both true orthorexia and for the vast majority of us, the mentality of orthorexia that leads us down a self-sabotaging weight gain cycle.  

Orthorexia is an eating disorder where one has an OBSESSION with eating only pure and clean food to the point that this interferes with daily life.  This can lead to severe health problems such as malnutrition, protein deficiency, kidney malfunction, etc.  If this is you, please get help right away.

For the rest of us who have the perfection eating mentality (especially during a diet) but don't have a disorder, let's change the way we view food so that we CAN lose weight.  For some, the holidays is a time they completely let go and for others, they have a lot of anxiety around food.  Let's find peace with food.  Accept that the holiday is a time of joy, foods that remind us of traditions, and people.  Let go of your "perfect" eating enough to enjoy all foods.   But...don't let go so much that you don't listen to your body.  Here are some quick tips to help you enjoy all the foods yet lose weight:

  • Put everything on a plate.  Eating involves the eyes too.  Our brain/body gauges "enough" through all senses.
  • Slow it down.  Give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods.  It's funny how having permission allows us to eat just the right amount and not stuff ourselves fearing someone (including ourselves) is judging. 
  • Mingle more.  Be the photographer, the greeter, the social butterfly.  Don't plant yourself at the food table.
  • Daily movement.  You can always make time for daily exercise.  Don't plan your calendar so there's no time to smell the flowers. 
  • Mindful choices.  Fill your plate up with food that makes you feel good and leave room for less healthy options.  Not the other way around.
  • Alternate between water and alcohol. 
Mostly importantly, enjoy this time.  Food is medicine but perfection is impossible (and toxic).  I wish you the happiest of holidays and a very Happy New Year.  Please stay away from the holiday weight gain followed by the New Year's Resolution cycle.  Treat your body well now.  You don't have to do it all alone.  Get support!  Change isn't easy but you can acquire the growth mindset for success.
 
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

Emotions Linked to Heart Health?

December 1, 2019


During the holidays, for some, it's a glorious time to spend with loved ones. For others, it's a trying time. For those going through some emotions, I hope this will provide you with some action steps.


The heart is a universal symbol of emotions. We hear expressions like "my broken heart"or "with a heavy heart" or "my heart can't bear it," etc. Studies have, in fact, linked grief, depression, job loss and the like with heart attacks. Stress leads to high blood pressure. Unfortunately, there are also behavioral decisions that propagate poor health such as smoking, overeating, alcohol, and inactivity.


Negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration, depression, fear and so on, prompts the body to release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones make the heart beat faster, blood vessels narrow, blood pressure rise, and blood sugar elevate. In our hunter/gatherer days, stress hormones turn off once we escaped the predator and our blood pressure and heart rate goes back to normal. In modern society, this elevated stress could continue for hours, days, weeks, months, years, and even decades. Yikes!!! You see how the body fails and we become susceptible to all kinds of diseases. Here are some simple actions to take as we mindful shift away from unnecessary stress:

  • Exercise. Aim for 3.5 hours every week if not more. This is huge for me because I can literally feel my stress dissipate.
  • Breathe. We, as a society, are terrible breathers. Try yoga and/or meditation. Studies show permanent changes with meditation.
  • Break. Step away. For you, what does it mean to live. Definitely not to stress all the time, drown in work, and not have time for breaks, joy, etc. Focusing on gratitude has really helped me.
  • Friends. Science show that people with frequent social connections are better able to protect their body against high blood pressure. Friends are important but choose them wisely.
  • Diet. Food is medicine, and it also helps dodge mental illnesses. "Without proper diet, medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need."

I wish you the joyous of holidays. And if others (including yourself) get in the way, I hope you'll find next steps for living a happier, freer life within your control. Please reach out if you need support.


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

 

Mental Shift for Successful Diet & Weight Loss

November 15, 2019

My clients who lose weight and maintain it understand the mental shift and recognize how much easier it is, almost effortless.  They chuckle about decades of dieting, feeling so frustrated and defeated while reporting that "this way is so easy and natural." 

This might sound crazy to you but I hear it all the time.  In order to maintain weight loss, we have to live a healthy lifestyle which means we cannot go on a diet.  Dieting works, but it is short term and the consequences are detrimental such as slowing down metabolism, creating eating disorders, and deteriorating self-esteem. 

If you want a healthy lifestyle, you have to change your relationship with food.  First, it has to be enjoyable.  If your actions are not enjoyable, you will quit.  Eat things that tastes good, exercises that feel good, etc.  Don't just push your body.  Find self-compassion, self-love. 

You have to also change your mindset.  Learn to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.  This means that you stop believing you are the problem, that you cannot lose weight, that you are innately a certain way.  Instead, you can overcome obstacles with perseverance, baby step changes, and acknowledging that setbacks are OK.  It's a part of growing.  What can you do differently next time?  What factors need to change? You are flexible, not rigid.   (Recommendation on the side:  read "Mindset - The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck.)

Awareness is also important.  Be aware of your mental state.  If you're tired, cranky, and hungry before a meal, convenience always wins.  How do you set up your day and your environment so that you want to choose to shop, prep, and cook that healthy meal that will make you want to repeat this?  And repeating over time, with joy, becomes a habit.

So stop torturing yourself.  Stop the daily dieting struggle of counting calories.  Stop dieting!  Please, find the joy in life, find the habits you will sustain.  Your life is waiting for you to thrive (not sit back in defeat).  If you would like support, call me.  

 
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 & Holisitc Health Coach, San Diego, CA

Diet for Work Burnout

November 1, 2019

Do you feel drained, unfocused, irritable or experience frequent stomachaches, headaches, or bowel issues? Are you burned out at work?  This can leave one depleted and physically/mentally exhausted.  Let's break this cycle!  Put yourself on this diet to bring back vitality and energy into your life.  You'll notice that at Happy Food, "diet" is all aspects of our lives because they are all integrated and affect one another.  We have to address the whole person.

  1. Boundaries.  This is a leading problem in my office - lack of boundaries.  Learn to say "no" and be realistic about what you can actually accomplish.  Being an overachiever without boundaries will leave you sick and under-performing.
  2. Sleep.  This is another major issue I see.  Americans don't get enough sleep.  Have a sleep hygiene routine that is consistent regardless if it's a weekend or weekday.  Get at least 7 - 8 hours.
  3. Move.  I can't go one day without some sort of exercise even if it's quick and simple.  This is an easy way to release stress, balance hormones.  Make time for movement daily even if it's just 15 - 20 minutes of brisk walk.
  4. Goodbye phone.  I guess most of us can't put our phones/computers away for too long but at least turn off all those notifications.  The screen light lowers our melatonin levels, putting our deep sleep in jeopardy.
  5. Veggies.  I tell my 4 year old that vegetables give her super powers.  Well, they do.  They give us lots of energy, vitamins, antioxidants, and regulates our bowels.  Eat up!
  6. Meditate/Yoga/Passion.  Find peace, calm, and recharge however you do it.  Some do it by changing a career and seeking their passion.  Others change their perspective and make meditation or yoga their spiritual release.  Find your way to relax and recharge.
  7. Vacation & Connection.  I can't believe the average American gets less than 2 weeks of vacation and many don't even use that.  We need to reset, turn on our parasympathetic system so that we can properly relax and digest.  All the great food and exercise won't do you any good if you're a big ball of stress.  And don't just wait for vacation to reset either.  Make plans with people, find time for fun and play.  What does living really mean to you? 
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

Holiday Weight Loss: 3 Mistakes

October 15, 2019


I was in the store the other day and saw Christmas decorations.  It's barely October!  It comes earlier every year but it reminds me that it might not be a bad idea to start helping people prep for the holidays where we won't gain weight but maybe even lose weight.  Let's make that shift now before it's too late.   Halloween parties are around the corner.

I want to help you get away from those self-sabotaging behaviors.  If you've ever used willpower or commitment as your diet plan, you've already lost.  You have set yourself up for deprivation and you feel like you're suffering.  Your body does not like to suffer so it's a consistent tug-of-war in the brain.  You inevitably break down, break your resistance to "bad" food, and plummet your self-esteem in the process.   Feeling self-defeated, you focus even harder on your New Year's resolution to resume this vicious cycle of yo-yo diets. I

If you do this then you associate deprivation and misery with what it takes to loss weight.  This has not, will not, and does not work.  It will come back to bite you and you'll gain the weight all back plus more.  Misery is NOT the answer to a healthy lifestyle.  Let's start by making some minor changes and follow up with me for deeper lifestyle transformation.

  • Starving before a holiday party.  Why do we automatically assume that holiday parties equal pigging out?  Maybe it's because we impose guilt, anticipate our actions to over-eat, starve ourselves in anticipation, then play out what we envisioned since we are starving before a huge display of fatty and sweet foods.  The holidays are about food and people and joy.  Don't make it about misery and torture.  If you're eating a well-balanced meal throughout the day, you won't pig out, and your metabolism won't slow down due to starvation. Don't robe yourself of joy.  Make joy the focus this holiday (and every day).
  • Stress.  So many people say the holidays are stressful.  Why?  Isn't it about joy, fun?  Why does the party have to be perfect, why so many gifts, why do all the things you hate?  The problem with stress is the body responds by excreting cortisol hormone.  So even if you eat right and exercise, cortisol prompts your body to store fat, especially belly fat.  This year, shop a little less and engage a little more with those you enjoy.
  • Relaxing.  Yes, relaxing is so important to release stress and improve metabolism but many people interpret this as laying around all day.  This makes us more tired because calcium builds up in our blood stream instead of our bones, and this makes us feel lethargic.  How many times have you sat around watching TV all day and eating just to find that you are exhausted.  This holiday, go out and plan lots of fun things.  Do the things you love and move your body.  You'll find that you will brighten up with so much more energy, efficient metabolism, and a healthier lifestyle that you CAN sustain because it's actually fun and not torture.
To be healthy forever and to lose weight, we have to change the way we associate with food.  Food is good.  Play is good.  Loving your body is good.  No more misery, deprivation, and self-control.  NO more dieting, please.  Don't forget to get support.  You don't need to do everything alone.  Get support from friends, family, community, or a professional.
 
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

Overcome Weight Loss Plateau

October 1, 2019

I see lots of people who reach a weight loss plateau and become very frustrated, defeated.  Everyone's bodies are different and we really need to honor our body.  Pushing it too much can backfire.  Our dieting world imposes lots of guilt, shame, and judgment. This only leads to weight gain since negative emotions often result in emotional eating and the body slows down metabolism when we feel more stressed.
 
It's typical that the first few weeks, we see rapid weight loss.  As we consume fewer calories, the body gets energy from glycogen, a type of carbohydrate.  Glycogen is part water so our weight loss is mostly water loss.  As you lose more weight, you start to loss muscle too, along with fat.  Muscles help keep the rate of metabolism up.  Unfortunately, this means that as you lose weight (and lose muscle), your metabolism declines burning fewer calories than when you were heavier.  This is why we reach a plateau.
 
To lose more weight, we need to increase our physical activity or decrease calories consumed but be careful not to go too low.  We don't want to freak the body out and prompt it to store fat because we are eating too little.  Always be kind to your body by providing love and patience.  Here are a few tips to overcome weight loss plateaus:
  • Assess habits:  Yo-yo dieting contributes to plateaus.  Make sure you do things that allows you to be consistent, not all-or-nothing.  Are you underestimating how much you eat, overestimating how healthy you eat, and overestimating how much you exercise?  Add lots of vegetables, complex carbs, and minimal processed foods.
  • Check workout:  Start with baby steps but we really need to move daily.  30 minutes or more would be ideal.  Don't forget to build muscle as that helps with chomping up fat.
  • More action:  Increase activity throughout the day, not just when you're at the gym.  Walk more, drive less.  More stairs, less elevator.  Clean your house vigorously, do yard work, dance around, pace while on the phone, play, etc.
  • Enjoy your body here and now.  When you're calm about weight loss, provide the body what it needs, then all becomes easy.  This is said by so many of my clients who feel like they "just don't even try anymore, it's easy."
Whatever you do, don't give up and have "the hell with it" attitude.  Minor weight loss improves chronic health issues.  Make sure your weight loss goals are realistic and please celebrate.
 
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

How to Grow Muscle for Weight Loss

September 15, 2019

Why are muscles important for weight loss? Muscles at rest require calories while fat cells at rest do not. So the greater your lean body mass, the more calories you will burn all day long not just when you're working out and including in your sleep. More muscle mass equates to high metabolism.

For weight loss, you absolutely need cardio. But cardio plus weight training will provide real results. Here's the mechanics of muscle building. We have over 600 muscles which translate to 1/3 - 1/2 of our body weight. They bind us together, hold us up, and help us move. Muscles when stressed lead to microscopic tears, which releases cytokines to repair the injury. This activates the immune system and builds muscles. Once this damage and repair happens, we build stronger and bigger muscles.

In order for this to all happen, we also need proper nutrition and adequate sleep because repair happens when we are sleeping. Gender and age plays a role too. That's why young men with higher testosterone have an advantage.

We want to do strength training of different body parts throughout the week or at least 2 - 3 times per week. Don't forget to include rest days so that the body can heal. If you're not a fan of weights, try HIIT (high intensity interval training), swimming, surfing, yoga, pilates, or calisthenic workouts (use of just body weight). The more muscle groups you use at once, the better the results which is why calisthenic workouts are so effective.

The take home lesson here is tear muscles, rest, eat right in order to build muscles, which lead to higher metabolism, which leads to weight loss. Please do NOT go on a restrictive diet. That only leads to binging later and potentially inadequate nutrition.

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

How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants

September 1, 2019

I definitely enjoy eating out.  It's fun!!  I love the social aspect, the experience, and eating flavors I don't know how to cook.  I enjoy cooking but I'm no culinary expert.  I don't, however, eat out because I didn't go grocery shopping and have no food at home, or I don't want to cook.  These are mental traps that might get us stuck in unhealthy eating because we eat out a lot.  Here are some tips for eating out healthy.  I hope it helps.
  1. Loosen up.  This is my number one rule.  If you're going out, have fun and enjoy it.  If your diet is mostly home-cooked, then you'll leave the guilt behind.  Plus physiologically, guilt packs on more weight.  It's not what we do once in a while that makes us fat and sick.  It's what eat all the time.  Focus on doing "right" at home, and loosen up when you're out.
  2. Scan menu.  Certain words are clear red flags such as crispy, breaded, fried, cream, alfredo, etc.  For better nutrition, look for grilled, steamed, baked, roasted, braised, broiled, seared, etc.
  3. Share.  My husband and I normally share an entree and a salad.  That feels like the best of both worlds to me because frankly, restaurant salads feel like a rip off.  It's a big mound of lettuce.  I make way better salads at home and I don't want to order salads all the time when I go out. Another idea for restaurants that serve gigantic portions is you can share one entree with an extra side of veggies, and save money.  Bonus!
  4. Ask questions.  I like asking about portion size.  Also, ask how it's prepared or if there's a sauce.  Sometimes, the wording isn't very clear.  It helps to know what to order and expect.
  5. Substitute.  See if you can substitute the fries or chips for a salad or double the vegetables on the plate.
  6. Dressing on the side.  Always order dressing on the salad.  They often drown salads in dressing.  Make sure there's not a bunch of unhealthy, processed ingredients in your salad too.
  7. Don't go hungry.  Don't ever show up to a restaurant starving.  If you're like me, I'd order too much and overeat.  If you're starving, grab a whole food snack (one ingredient snack).
  8. Drink lots of water at the table.
  9. Include exercise in your day.
  10. Balance.  If you're stuck eating a few meals out in one day, make sure they aren't all heavy, large meals.  Listen to your belly.
  11. Slow down.  Eat slow and you'll eat less.
  12. Order off the menu.  Feel free to create a healthy meal of grilled protein and steamed veggies or salad.
  13. Box early.  If you get something huge, cut it in half and ask for a box right away.  I love left overs!
The take home message is - do great at home and simply enjoy when you're out.  Don't sweat it but do keep it to real food with minimal processing.
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

Are Cell Phones Robbing Us of Joy?

August 15, 2019

I was at Rite Aid the other day picking up a prescription and I had to sign something so I was busy reading while the cashier asked me "How's your day?" Since I wasn't paying attention, I asked him to repeat himself. When he did, I said "you threw me off with your kindness" with a smirk. I heard laughter in the backyard.

How often do we just cruise through life not even making eye contact with people or exchanging a few words? For example, what do you do when you enter an elevator? Do you look at your shoes, pull out your cell, make brief eye contact, or strike up brief chitchat? If you tend to pull out your phone, studies show that we are short changing ourselves from happiness. It turns out that even brief moments, as simple as eye contact, adds to greater well being and happiness since we are social creatures after all.

Even just a brief eye contact increases one's feeling of inclusion and belonging. Start with people you have to interact with anyways like the cashier or the barista. Research shows that high frequency of positive events, even as small as eye contact (with or without a smile), helps us feel included, decreases loneliness, and increases happiness. It is fear that the other person won't enjoy talking with us that holds most people back (even if they think they prefer solitude like just reading their book). Once we start conversation, people feel less awkward and it's more enjoyable than most people expect.

Next time you're next to a stranger, acknowledge their presence and even say "hello." Put your phone away. This might put a smile on your face and theirs. More small moments of joy adds up. And in my office, more joy leads to less emotional eating and therefore, more weight loss. Social creatures need to feel less lonely. So put that phone away and interact. You'll feel the difference.

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

Health Tips for Summer Grilling

August 1, 2019

I love grilled food.  They often taste so much better.  And wouldn't you agree that eating outside just makes food taste yummier?  Here are some health tips and ideas for your summer grilling and picnics. 

Reducing cancer.  Fats from meat that drips into flame produces more smoke and carcinogens.  Reduce this exposure with these ideas:

  • Avoid breathing in smoke.
  • Avoid charring meat and trim them off so you don't eat them.
  • Grill fish or poultry with the fat trimmed.  Try veggie burgers and grilling vegetables too.
  • Reduce grill time by cutting meats into smaller chunks.
  • Wrap meat in foil.  This speeds up the cooking time and protects it from smoking.
  • Use marinades.  This reduces carcinogens because of the acid in the lemon, lime, and vinegar.  Plus, herbs such as rosemary, garlic, thyme, etc. have antioxidant properties to prevent cancer.

Healthier options.  High intake of red meat especially processed meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami are linked to higher risks of death such as colorectal and stomach cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  Try adding more plants like:

  • Veggie kabobs using zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and pair them with salsa, hummus, baba ganoush, pesto. 
  • Fruit.  Cut up peaches, mangoes, melons, berries, pineapples, figs, etc.  Some of these tastes so good grilled too.
  • Add plant-based proteins such as beans, seeds, tofu, tempeh to salads or grain dishes. 
  • Roasted crunchy chickpeas as snacks

Add herbs and spices.  Not only do they make our food taste better but they have beneficial chemicals called polyphenols and also have antimicrobial properties.  Garlic, onions, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, tarragon, rosemary, cloves prevent growth and even kill some bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and streptococcus. 

Hydrate.  Don't forget to hydrate but make it naturally sugar-free by infusing water with cucumber, lemon, lime, oranges, mint, etc.  Drop the soda and sugary drinks.

Minimize wastes.  This planet is our home and we need to all do better with reducing wastes.  Reduce single-use items, use metal skewers, use real plates/utensils/cups, and bring an extra trash bag for recycling.

Happy summer to you and enjoy your food!  

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

Things That Kept Me Alive May Help You Succeed

July 15, 2019

Joy & Peace

This is a difficult blog for me to share but if I can help one person, then it was worth it. I believe these tips apply to all of us no matter where we're at.

I spent all of my childhood and most of my adulthood in depression. Things happened in my family due to circumstances that left me apart from my parents and sisters since I was 9 months old (according to my grandma). Because no one explained it to me, like most small children, I blamed myself. I thoroughly convinced myself that if my mom left me, then I must be a horrible person and absolutely unlovable. If she gave me away, how can I expect love from others. This made me extremely shy and afraid to seek friendships. I was suicidal, alone, and scared. If I was past down from mom to aunt to grandma, then I better show up perfect so grandma wouldn't leave me too. I wished someone took the time to tell me I'm loved. I'm here to tell you that you're lovable, you're worthwhile, and you're enough.

You have a right to how you feel so validate that and let go of judgment and comparisons. Whatever your goals and obstacles, know that you are worth the effort. Our past shapes us and makes us even more powerful and empowered if we allow it. Whether you abuse your body with food or other things, this is your time to flip the switch and love yourself.

I'm still dealing with some of what feels like permanent wounds. I know my mom never intends to hurt me, but she unknowingly continues to hurt me to this day. Because I can't change other people, I have set out to work on myself. It took decades and sometimes it feels like I work every minute of my life to feel "normal." It's exhausting! I promise you it's worth it though. Looking back, these are the things that kept me alive. I'd be lying if any of this was intentional at the time. I was definitely fumbling and just got lucky that these things actually helped me be the happy person I am today. Maybe there's something to be said about our intuition to thrive. Let's also get real. I, like everyone else, am still work in progress. I hope that my sharing will make your journey much shorter than mine and your efforts WILL pay off.

  1. Connection.  I didn't think I'd be alive for very long so I had nothing to lose.  After traveling alone to 30 countries, working to sustain my shoestring travels and staying in shady places, I met amazing people who accepted me.  It never occurred to me that strangers can love me.  I made so many cool connections.  This was the beginning of gaining a glimpse of self-confidence and self-worth.  They had no idea they saved me, so smile at the next person that crosses your path.  You have no idea your impact on them.  Today, I have very close friends who I call family and they continue to be my foundation.  Find your tribe. 
  2. Trees.  As I picked up my backpack to roam earth alone, I sought out the woods.  My main activity in every country was and still is hiking.  I guess I did myself a favor without knowing it.  The latest Harvard study indicates that walking in the woods (not the city) helps with mental illness and can even prevent it.
  3. Breathe/Move.  I'm a terrible breather especially when I feel depressed or anxious.  Good thing I've always gravitated towards exercise.  You can't help but breathe deeply when you're running, swimming, playing sports.  Beach volleyball is something I've grown to call therapy.  Find your therapy that is fun!  Although I'm an advocate of meditation, I can't seem to sit still.  I do use yoga often.  Find YOUR breath; YOUR movement. 
  4. Gratitude.  I spent decades under dark clouds (since the 4th grade).  It took so much work to rewire my mind to focus on the positive.  Each time I'd crumble and fall to pieces, I tried to find some gratitude.  Depression is serious, and I know how hard it is.  Changing how I wake up in the morning was my main focus.  It starts with gratitude and a smile even if I have to fake it that day.
  5. De-clutter.  There was a time that I moved every 9 months so it didn't allow me to accumulate or own very much.  Plus, I was extremely poor.  Get rid of what you don't need.  Less is more.  A de-cluttered life is a healthier, happier life.
  6. Purpose.  Do something you feel proud about.  I worked with wild animals (they made more sense to me than people at the time), joined the Peace Corps, and presently doing work to help others be healthier and happier.  We are all different.  Take the  time to focus on others but treat yourself with compassion.  The words I'd use to myself would send me straight to prison.  Can you be nice to yourself? Talk to yourself like how you would talk to a friend. 

I've come a long way and I have lots of people I owe my success to.  I still focus on the 6 points above with more intention now.  Additionally, I'm learning to connect with my body and what that blob inside is trying to tell me.  I'm also learning to be a mom and that has been so healing to have a second chance at a loving mother-daughter relationship.  Lastly, I'm working on rewriting my story and checking in when my brain freaks out.  How can you rewrite the stories you tell yourself?  

Let me know if this helped and share your journey with me if you're comfortable.  I wish you a fruitful journey full of smiles even on bad days.  Those are the most important days to find something to smile about. 

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. 

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

Let Stress Make You Healthy

March 1, 2019  

The evidence is clear that stress makes us sick and for many, stress packs on the weight too.  This is something I talk about a lot at Happy Food, and we work towards reducing stress.  But...there are also ways to team up with stress.  Here's our approach:  reduce unnecessary stress, re-frame the script, and let the rest energize you. 

First, we reduce self-inflicted stress.  Some examples from my office includes saying "no" more and know your limits, creating better boundaries, improving communication, balance work and life, improve time management, don't try to please everyone, etc.  Some of your goals may be easy and others may take time.  Acknowledge that we all have different strengths and weaknesses so refrain from comparisons.   

Second, hard-wire your brain neurons to be more resilient.  Understand how to re-frame situations so your perspective allows your cortex brain to find solutions versus letting stress hijack your brain and reacting in a counter-productive manner. Be gentle on yourself.  This takes practice and time.  

Lastly but not necessarily done in sequential order, let the stress energize you.  It turns out that those who don't believe stress is harmful may experience the pounding heart of a stressful moment, but their arteries don't constrict like those who do believe that stress is harmful. What if stress energizes our body for action?  Think about all the times you did something amazing.  It involved stress and took courage.  Let's create that biology of action and courage with each stressful situation.  In addition, oxytocin is the antidote to stress cortisol.  We release more of these bonding hormones with increased human contact.  Having connections and specifically caring for others  makes us more resilient.   So what am I saying?  Once we balance our lives and flip those sabotaging scripts, we let stress energize us by providing courage and strong human bonds.  Stress isn't all bad. 

Trust yourself to handle the challenges of life and don't face them alone.  Seeking meaning is better than avoiding discomfort.  As a great saying goes, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" (Neale Donald Walsch).  Let's work towards thriving and not just surviving.  Without wasted energy on diets, body judgment, and calorie counting, we can all thrive and let stress deliver courage and resilience. Don't let anyone take that away from you!  You are more than a diet.  And once we address the right stuff, weight loss is easy and taking care of yourself is the norm.  Learn nutrition and the root cause of your stress at the same time.  

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

A Guide From Couch Potato to Active

February 15, 2019

It seems the vast majority of my clients are "all or nothing" people. Is that just my clients? I don't think so. I think it's our culture to want instant gratification and our brains don't like waiting for long-term rewards. We want to see that if we put in the work, results happen immediately. People end up doing "nothing" after doing it "all" for a short time. Hence, the crowded gyms in January.

Start small! Even educated people have a hard time accepting how powerful walking is, especially brisk walking. So many movement in our life matters. Taking the stairs, parking far, cleaning the house with gusto, walking instead of emailing a co-worker, etc.

So many of us are too busy. That's for a different conversation but that is the root cause of so many health problems. We are so busy with long work hours, kids, marriage, managing the household, and some even have elderly parents to take care of too. Couple this with bouts of insomnia (probably due to stress and imbalance), then who in their right mind would exercise. I'm too damn tired!!! And there's no time.

The interesting thing is once we start slow, we start to sleep better, we start to have more energy, we start to feel better from the inside. We may not see weight lose immediately but that's not the point. We feel better!!! Make that your focus. Then....we feel stronger, then we have the energy to do more. Then, my clients don't even know who they have become.

How did I go from couch potato to someone who feels freedom when I get on my bike, someone who feels sexy when I Zumba dance, or someone who can't imagine missing out on good surfing waves. We start to crave this wonderful feeling of joy, self-esteem, and energy. It becomes who we are and not a robot who has to count calories and exercise in order to lose weight. Get rid of that scale! Don't focus on the weight. Focus on the accomplishments and the feeling. Plus couple this with nutrition (80% of the equation) and you will have a hot body, but mostly a mind that feels great.

You, too, will become addicted to exercise especially if you choose an activity that brings you joy. It becomes your identity and you will never want to go back to couch potato. I never skip one day; only when I'm sick. By taking care of me, I have the energy to raise a child, do things that bring me joy, and sleep well. What brings you joy?

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

A Guide to Making Healthy Habits Stick

February 1, 2019

Happy Food will have opened our doors for 10 years this May!  As I ponder why our clients are successful with weight loss, maintaining healthy habits, and improving their quality of life, these are just a few things we emphasize.

  • Find resources from within.  Every year there's a new gimmick diet, supplement, product, etc. but we are the best experts.  Besides diets not working, we are all different and need different things.  We are sold the idea that we need something outside of us in order to be successful so we continue our endless search year after year.  Eat the foods you like from mother nature and your body will work for you.   As you eat real, unprocessed foods, your palate will change and you already come with amazing powers to change and heal. Search from within.
  • Get to know yourself.  Tap into the moments you treasure, the ways you like to move, etc.  Stop fighting life by following what others deem is "right."  It may not be right for you.  Do what feels easy.  Keep things easy.  Keep it fun.
  • Keep it easy.  Make small changes.  Don't ever try to be perfect or aim for lofty goals that seem unreachable.  Start with a 10-minute walk, try a new vegetable, try a new recipe, try to eat mindfully, try to reduce your portions gradually, etc.  Keep life simple, and habits will stick because it won't feel like torture.  Focus on pleasure not torture.
  • Be a palm tree.  I always tell my clients to sway with the wind like a palm tree and be adaptable (resilient) versus a strong oak tree that gets uprooted in a wind storm.  Change according to life changes.  For a while, I was dancing at home with a young baby when I couldn't get away to do formal exercise.  Adjust and adapt!  That's the secret to maintenance.  If you can't do what you've always done, then it's time for change. 
  • Be confident about you.  You are the ultimate expert who know how to do all of this right for your life.  Have the confidence that you are amazing and resourceful. 

I think that's the difference at Happy Food.  I want to help you find the strength within you to maintain great health forever.  Come learn about nutrition and find the root cause of your struggles, but walk away empowered to always have the answers.  

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

Does Your Therapist Ask About Your Diet?

January 15, 2019

Does your therapist ask you about your diet?  He/she should.  We use various forms of psychological treatments to help people get through depression or hard times but we also need to treat the brain like it's another organ. 

That organ needs proper nutrition in order to function.  True, some depression are genetic and need medicine and some can be treated without, but these medicines have side effects and healthy food has no negative side effects.  At the very least, we owe it to ourselves to work on both therapy and nutrition. 

Research shows that eating a healthy, Mediterranean diet, can prevent depression while eating processed, refined foods can increase the risk of depression for everyone including teens and children.  A bad diet fails to provide the brain with the nutrients it needs causing inflammation which is linked to depression.   Diet also affects the trillions of micro-organisms in our gut (microbiome).  They make molecules that produce serotonin, which is our happy hormone.  This a complex system of communication between our gut and our brain.  A healthy diet feeds the brain, regulates inflammation, and provides good gut bacteria. 

Hence, at Happy Food, we devote a lot of time talking about food, gut health, nutrition, and the brain.  There's a complex network between brain, bacteria, cells, organs, hormones, neurochemistry, etc. that we will never fully grasps.  The best we can do is feed ourselves the right food, and allow the body to heal/thrive as it knows best given healthy food.  Our body is amazing.  Don't take it for granted.

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

When We Eat Is Crucial for Health

January 1, 2019

Scientists have long debated over what to eat for optimal health but when we eat is also crucial. We've always known that our body has a central circadian clock, but it turns out each organ has it's own circadian rhythm. Since we are diurnal animals meaning we rise and fall with the sun, our internal clocks are set to eat when it's light out and rest later in the day. If we are having late night snacks or late dinners, our clocks are out of sync. The body releases melatonin preparing us for sleep but having to digest confuses our system leading to weight gain and diseases. This is why night shift workers are at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, some cancers, and heart disease.

In a study with mice, two groups were given high fat, high sugar diets. One group ate around the clock while the other ate during an 8-hour window. Despite eating the same amount of calories, the group that ate at any time got fat and sick while the other group did not. We see this in several human studies too. Adults who were forced to stay up later and therefore eat later, disrupted their circadian rhythm and saw a raise in blood pressure and impaired insulin/blood sugar control.

So what should you do? Live by the age old proverb of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Make breakfast important, raise with the sun, go to bed early, don't skip dinner but keep it light, and have your body work in sync. I find it's tough to be healthy as a night owl. Maybe this is why all of my night owl clients have adjusted to early bedtime. One can't be healthy if we fight against the circadian rhythm of our body, eat factory-made or corporate-made food, and impose lots of unnecessary stress.

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

The Truth About Sugar and Carb

                                                                                                      December 15, 2019

https://youtu.be/N7Ty8HoIEEg
Happy Food's BEST Diet (watch this video)

In a New England medical journal study, men and women with genetic risk of obesity were 4 times more likely to become obese drinking one sugary drink a day versus those who drank one a month. Sugary drinks (juice is no better than soda) tampers with your body's ability to maintain stable weight. They make you fat. They allow you to eat the way you normally do plus the extra calories whereas, eating whole wheat bread and beans fill you up so you don't consume extra. Aim for water, tea (without sugar), or fruit/herbs/veggie infused water.

When losing weight, should you cut carbs or fat or protein? After a year, those who cut fat as much as possible versus those who cut carbs lost the same amount of weight - 12 pounds. Both groups cut about 500-600 calories per day and ate healthy without sugars or refined grains. Unfortunately, Americans get a quarter of their calories from added sugars and refined grains and very little from vegetables (excluding potatoes).

The conclusion? If you eat whole foods without sugar and refined grains, it doesn't matter if you cut carbs or fat. Eating healthy is the main take home message. In addition, minimize those sugary drinks as they are nothing but empty calories. A few pounds every year adds up over the years.

Enjoy your holiday meals. Don't obsess about your food. Do enjoy it but choose whole foods (single ingredient foods), minimize sugar and refined carbs. Listen to internal cues and watch those portions 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