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Why Healthy Change is Hard

November 1, 2017

Why is healthy change so difficult? Too often we are motivated by a sense of guilt, fear, or regret. Surveys/research shows that this is the least effective strategy. Experts in behavioral change all agree that long lasting change is more likely to stick if it’s self-motivated and based on positive thinking. In my office, this is the main focus. We focus on the positive and take away guilt and judgment. We also focus on specific goals and have a plan. These are 2 other strategies that make us more successful.

Change is a process and not an event. The hardest part of my job is to promote being kind to ourselves. Stop dieting, stop beating yourself up, stop doing all things that are counterproductive to success. Start accepting that this is a process with setbacks, and setbacks don’t mean you’ve failed.

Here is a well accepted theory of the stages of change:

  1. Pre-contemplation: you have no intention to change. In order to move to the next stage, you need to see that your habits get in the way of important goals such as being able to enjoy your kids or being able to travel, etc.
  2. Contemplation: you’re only considering change but it might be 6 months or more from now. Ambivalence leads you to constantly re-weigh the cost/benefit of the change and keeps you stuck. You’d have to consider barriers and how to overcome them. For example, if you don’t have time for 30 minutes of exercise, maybe break it up into 2 sessions per day.
  3. Preparation: you know you must change, believe that you can, and have already made some plans such as joining the gym. Here’s where you’d consider taking out triggers that get in the way.
  4. Action: you’ve changed! You’ve started using healthy coping strategies. Here’s where you want to get support, be clear on your motivation, and talk about it often.
  5. Maintenance: new behavior has stuck for at least 6 months. It’s still tough here. You may need to avoid certain activities or even certain friends and continue to get support.

Keep in mind that it’s rarely straightforward moving through the different stages above. Relapse is common and we should even expect it. Each time, you learn more about yourself and long-term success becomes more of a reality. 

This is what I help people navigate. We promote positivity, joy, delicious food, fun exercise, and learning that spiraling through the stages several times is not a sign of failure. This is normal, and I coach you to learn how to maneuver through it each time to become successful for life. It’s a journey, and one that can be enjoyable if you allow it.

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 Get Extra Nutrients

October 15, 2017

It’s easier to be healthy than you think.  You do NOT have to eat perfect.  Start with baby steps.  Start by implementing vegetables in everything you can imagine.  Here are some tips:

  • Add broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach to omelets
  • Add greens to the bottom of your soup bowl
  • Add green beans, squash, bell peppers to your whole grain pasta
  • Add eggplants, spinach, chards, peas to your noodles
  • Add arugula to your tacos instead of iceberg
  • Add mustard greens, cucumber to your sandwiches
  • Add mushrooms, peppers, greens to your whole grain pizza
  • Add thin slices of carrots, zucchini, cucumber to your wraps
  • Replace half your pasta with zucchini noodles
  • Add apples, carrots, squash to your cakes/dessert

Vegetables have extra phytonutrients that reduces cancer, promotes anti-inflammation, and boosts immunity.  For example, arugula has 8 times the amount of calcium as iceberg lettuce and more vitamin C than any greens.  It’s my favorite vegetable and I add it to everything.  Sweet potatoes have tons of Vitamin A.  So pile on a nice variety of produce.  You’ll have more energy, live longer, feel better, prevent diseases, and LOOK GREAT.

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

Some Daily Carcinogenic Foods We Can Avoid

October 1, 2017

I think we’ve all heard things like “don’t eat the burnt part; it causes cancer.”  That’s because in 2002, a Swedish study discovered that acrylamide is a naturally occurring chemical that causes cancer in animals from eating foods such as french fries, bread, etc.  Acrylamide occurs when amino acid combines with sugar at high temperature.  Here are some interesting foods high in acrylamide that you can reduce:

  • Fried potatoes have the most acrylamide.  Roasted has less, baked even less, and boiled has none.
  • Sweet potato chips have more than regular potato chips.  Baked has less.
  • Veggie chips from dehydrated potatoes have more than regular potato chips.
  • Store potatoes in dark, cool places.  The cold refrigerator turns the potato starch into sugar. 
  • Choose thicker fries (acrylamide forms near the surface)
  • Don’t toast bread until it’s dark brown. Aim for golden yellow.
  • Roasted almonds appear to have higher levels than roasted cashews or peanuts.  Raw nuts have none.
  • Dark roast coffee actually has less acrylamide than light roast.
  • High levels of acrylamide form when prunes are made into juice. 

It seems that acrylamide levels in meat, seafood, dairy, and most produce don’t seem to matter as much as the above.  As with anything in my office, I believe in moderation and balance.  What we do once in a while will never kill us; it’s what we do daily.  Learn how to use moderation without guilt and lead you to weight loss. 

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

Can Eating Whole Grains Lead to Weight Loss?

September 15, 2017

The latest study from Tufts University show that eating whole grains versus refined grains help with weight loss. Previous studies prove that whole grains have health and nutrition benefits, higher fiber intake, and controls glycemic levels and insulin sensitivity but no one has tested metabolic rates and whether it regulates weight.

In this study, they took 81 individuals ages 40-65 and had them eat either a whole grain or refined grain diet for 8 weeks. Researchers measured weight, metabolic rate, blood glucose, fecal calories, hunger, and fullness.

At the end of the study, the whole grain eaters lost almost 100 more calories per day due to increased resting metabolism and also excreted more calories in their stool. In addition, there were lower levels of gut bacterium which is often linked to inflammation.

What to do? Eat whole grains but don’t over consume. Plus, foods that claim “made with whole grains” may not be as beneficial. Eat the whole item full of fiber, vitamin B, and iron.

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, 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

Want Your Family to Eat More Vegetables?

September 1, 2017

Studies show that “seductive names” make vegetables more appealing.  A team at Stanford found that vegetable sales went up by 25% with names such as “sizzlin’ beans, dynamite beets, or twisted citrus-glazed carrots” compared to basic labels like simply “carrots.”

Interestingly, seductive labels increased sales by 41% compared to “healthy restrictive” labels such as “carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing.”  The healthy label was actually a turn-off.  Sales were 35% higher compared to “healthy positive” label such as “smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots.”

People are motivated by taste and tend to associate healthy food as less tasty.  This is why at Happy Food it is essential to promote delicious food and we should never sacrifice taste for health.  That said, as we learn about nutrition and change our habits, our palate also changes.  All my clients tell me they go back to their favorite treat and it’s not as tasty anymore (or it makes them sick now).  That’s how we loss weight…without restrictions!!

It’s so interesting how much psychology plays into eating and weight loss which is why we focus on psychology.  Labels can really influence our sensory and affect how tasty food is.  So get your family excited about vegetables not by labeling them healthy or good for weight loss.  Jazz it up with favors and a snazzy label. 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, 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

Risks of Sitting Too Much

August 15, 2017

Studies show that sitting for long periods of time is linked to poor health such as obesity, weight gain around the waist and increased risks of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cholesterol, and cancer.  Let’s reduce these preventable risks by moving a little more.  Here are some ideas:

  • Stand up alarms.  Set an alarm to stand up and move at least every 90 minutes if not more often. 
  • Track it.  Wear a device to track your steps.  My clients who start wearing these end up walking more (and maybe even a little bit competitive).
  • Stairs.  Skip the elevator/escalator and use the stairs.
  • Standing desks.  Use a standing desk although keep in mind that just standing up for long periods  instead of sitting results in other issues (varicose veins, back problems, etc.) so make sure you move and not just stand all day. 
  • Walk it over.  Schedule walking meetings or walk over to your co-worker instead of sending an email. 
  • Stand & talk.  Stand up and pace around when you’re on the phone.
  • DIY.  Do it yourself.  Mow the lawn, pick up food/grocery (instead of delivery), fixing things.  Don’t outsource everything. 
  • Join your kids.  If they are playing a sport, join them or if you’re cheering, get up and walk the side lines.  You’ve had enough sitting all day. 
  • Shoes.  Oh and don’t forget the comfy shoes.  Bad shoes will surely promote us to sit more. 

Just replacing 1 hour a day of sitting with standing, you burn 330 calories a week which is more than an hour of moderate-paced walking.

Try not to sit for more than  90 minutes at a time.  Stand up and move.  Love the body that allows you to be mobile.  The more you move, the better you feel.  The better you feel, the more active you become and the better you’ll eat.  Then, the better you’ll sleep and the better you’ll focus and interact which leads to more confidence and weight loss…and it keeps going.  Making it a healthy snowball effect because it can easily become an unhealthy one too.  

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, 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

Your Breakfast Is Making You Gain Weight

August 1, 2017

American breakfast staples such as cold cereal, donuts, yogurt, bagels, cream cheese, orange juice, frappuccino are all corporate scams making them lots of money and packing on weight for us. 

In 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. (Corn Flakes & Rice Krispies). Cold cereal was first invented by a vegetarian (Kellogg) and the health industry but C.W. Post stole the idea and shifted it towards targeting adults and children who love sugar.  Cold cereal is totally an American invention that is now extremely unhealthy. 

The same scams in marketing sugary breakfast goes for these staples.  You are basically eating dessert.

 

“BREAKFAST” DESSERT
Chobani blueberry flavor (1 serving, 15 g, 130 calories) Breyers French vanilla ice cream (1/2 cup, 14 g, 140 calories)
Dunkin Donuts banana chocolate chip muffin (1 serving, 46 grams sugar, 510 calories) Starbucks vanilla cupcake (34 g. sugar, 400 calories)
IHOP NY cheesecake pancake (1 serving, 55 g sugar, 940 calories) Cheesecake Factory chocolate tower cake (51 g sugar, 1,679 calories)
Quaker Oats and Honey granola (1 cup, 26 g. sugar, 420 calories) 5 Oreo cookies (23 g. sugar, 266 calories)
General Mills Nature Valley sweet and salty nut granola bars (1 bar, 12 g. sugar, 170 calories) Oh Henry! Candy bar (fun size, 14 g. sugar, 120 calories)

 

These are just a few examples.  American breakfasts are loaded with sugar.  Try eggs with veggies, hot oats, Siggi’s yogurt (an Icelandic brand) is 25-50% less sugar, and the Japanese consume fish, rice, miso for breakfast.  American breakfast made us even more addicted to sugar and therefore gaining more weight.  Get out of this trap! (numbers adapted from Vox). 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, 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

 

Self-care Tips for Weight Loss

July 15, 2017

After more than 8 years of starting Happy Food, I realized the #1 issue that people struggle with when trying to lose weight and simply be healthier.  It’s self-care.  Self-care is pretty broad.  I’d say all my clients struggle with more than 1/2 of these and some struggle with all of them.  We are hard on ourselves.  We don’t trust ourselves.  We please others before we take care of ourselves.  How many of these do you struggle with?

  • Never speak badly of yourself
  • Be kind to yourself
  • If it feels wrong, don’t do it
  • Don’t be a people pleaser
  • Don’t be afraid to say no
  • Don’t be afraid to say yes
  • Trust your instincts
  • Let go of what you can’t control
  • Stay away from drama & negativity
  • Say exactly what you mean
  • Never give up on your dreams
  • LOVE

I read these tips awhile ago (and don’t remember from where), but I wanted to share because it’s so relevant to weight loss.  When we feel balanced and happy, we treat ourselves better.  We eat better; we take better care of ourselves.   

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, 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 Coach & Nutrition Coach, San Diego, CA

Happiness Affects Brain Activity for Weight Loss

July 1, 2017

Mostly, people come to me to lose weight, but they walk out gaining more.  I am not a therapist, and I openly share my struggles with past depression and childhood trauma.  Because I’m not a therapist and I’m unable to diagnose my clients, somehow this ends up being beneficial (at least in my office).  It provides me more time to focus on tangible action.  That’s what really helped me get out of my “dark space.”  What can I do NOW (stop digging up the past)?

I have so many clients that feel guilty telling me their problems since they came to me primarily for nutrition, and I have to reassure them over and over again that this is how we lose weight; that this psychological talk is an essential part of the weight loss journey.  We have to figure out the root cause.  Sometimes, the answer is so simple.  We just needed someone to see it from a different perspective.  Other times, it’s deep and tough; potentially years and decades of rewiring the brain and working through life struggles. 

When we experience emotional “pain,” we don’t have energy for making healthy choices.  We are in survival mode.  Plus, all that sugar, fat, and comfort food rewards our brain temporarily to feel better so we constantly repeat “what works” (what makes us feel better) which leads to weight gain.  Here are just 3 things to start practicing.  Let me know how it goes and if you need further support.

  1. Touch.  I give hugs to everyone in my office.  Touch is powerful.  Rejection hurts not just to the heart but physically.  Touch or massage reduces pain.  By the way, studies show that in-person touch or talking on the phone works but texting does NOTHING.  It’s like not getting support.  Reach out and get hugs!
  2. Label Your Emotions.  Suppressing emotions backfires.  Describe how you feel in 1 or 2 words.  Validate how you feel and re-engage your “logic” brain (prefrontal cortex).  This calms the amygdala (region that processes emotional reaction). 
  3. Rid Guilt & Shame.  It’s crazy that guilt and shame actually activates the reward center of our brain which explains why so many of us are obsessed with shaming and imposing guilt on ourselves.  The brain likes to worry too because at least we are doing something versus nothing at all.  This calms that limbic system which processes emotions.  At Happy Food, we heavily focus on gratitude because it boosts dopamine and serotonin. Every diet program is about guilt & shame. Let’s find more room for gratitude instead. 

If there are changes you’d like to make in your stress level, eating habits, exercise, 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