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Sleep & Health Risks

June 15, 2017

We all know too well how we feel if we lack sleep but do you know the huge health consequences?  You don’t just feel crabby and mentally impaired, you also raise the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, reduced pain tolerance, and more colds. 

  • Weight Gain.  Studies consistently show increased risk of obesity from insufficient sleep.  A study showed that women who slept no more than 5 hours a night were 28% more likely to gain at least 30 lbs over 16 years than those who slept 7 hours a night.  We eat more.  Ghrelin, hormone that increases appetite, are higher and leptin, hormone that curbs appetite is decreased due to lack of sleep. 
  • Diabetes.  In a study, those that slept less than 6 hours a night were 30% more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than those who slept 7 hours a night.  Your body is less insulin sensitive.  You eat more and more high carb, high fat foods and your body is less able to process them. 
  • Heart Disease.  Those who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a 50% higher risk of heart disease than those who get at least 7 hours per night.  Scientists believe it’s due to inflammation. 
  • Colds. In an experiment, those who slept less than 7 hours per night were 3 times more likely to get a cold than those who got at least 8 hours of sleep. 
  • Pain.  Those who slept 1.8 hours more than usual were less sensitive to pain.
  • Mental Clarity.  We have all experienced brain fog due to lack of sleep.  It impairs our ability to focus, pay attention, and make good decisions. 

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

How to Prevent Overeating

June 1, 2017

Many of us overeat due to emotions or because we’ve created a habit of large portions at each meal/snack.  We are also constantly reminded of food with food messages everywhere and food for sale everywhere, at all times.  This makes us eat when we are not hungry, eat more, and end up gaining weight. Here are 3 strategies to help you conquer overeating:

  1. Eat with your eyes too.  Look at your food and just eat. Studies show that we eat more when we multitask.  Make it a technology-free meal, eat away from your desk, stop working, and unplug.  It is your time to relax and recharge so you can continue your day, full of energy.  Don’t let other people take that from you.
  2. Respond to cravings.  Many of us can relate to eating when we are stressed, angry, bored, sad, or anxious.  We immediately gravitate to comfort food when these emotions come up.  Interestingly, studies show that people with high stress have less emotional control and strategic planning.  How can you feed your soul through nonfood ways?  Maybe a walk, talk with a friend, meditate, use music/art, exercise, etc? I always suggest drinking a glass of water, go doing something for at least 10 minutes, and most of the time, you’ve gotten over your craving and curved the immediate urge to medicate with comfort food.
  3. Watch out for addictive ingredients.  Salts, sugars, and unhealthy fats (aka, processed foods) can trick our brain to eating more.  Everyone in my office changes their palate through healthy eating and understanding nutrition, then we consume less processed junk, and therefore stop overeating and gaining weight.

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

Are Fruits Bad?

May 15, 2017

Are fruits bad to eat?  Is it too high in sugar and cause weight gain?  I get asked this question all the time in my office.  Here are my answers:

  • Fruits are high in nutrition.  Besides vitamin C, fruits have carotenoids, folate, potassium, fiber, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and magnesium. 
  • Low in calories.  Fruits are mostly water (85%) unless it’s dried fruit so it’s a low calorie treat.  Nature’s sugar is much better than restricting fruit followed by eating processed sweets. 
  • Inexpensive.  If you eat seasonally, your fruit will be inexpensive.  If you want blueberries all year long (which by the way isn’t good for us), then it gets expensive.
  • Convenient.  Fruit as a snack is so easy to pack. 
  • Physical health.  Studies show that those who consume more fruit have fewer instances of heart attack and strokes and potentially also improve the aging brain. 
  • Eating over drinking.  Eating fruit is more satiating for the body than drinking it; therefore, we don’t over-consume.

I hope that clarifies the fruit war.  Moderation is always your best friend.  Eat seasonally and aim for organic when possible (for you, the planet, and farmers). 

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

Resilience Equals Happy & Healthy

May 1, 2017

We all have a story.  Resilience is how we quickly recover despite setbacks.  The more resilient we are, the happier we are and believe it or not, the more healthy and fit we are.  When we are happy and balanced, we don’t abuse our bodies either by overeating, eating food that make us sick, or neglecting our body in general. 

Many people come to me with an “all or nothing” attitude.  They do great until they have a “treat” and then, they throw up their arms and say “I failed.”  No you didn’t!!!  You had a cookie after eating great for weeks.  This is great!  That cookie is not your ticket to jail and a downward spiral to eating 5 more cookies, ice cream, and chocolate until you’re sick and feel totally defeated.  Perfection is never our goal!

Here are some tips for gaining more resilience:

  • Positivity.  Focus on solutions instead of problems.  Get your brain neurons firing the right direction to create resilience.
  • Social Connection:  We need a tribe.  Seek community.  We are no good completely solo in the world.
  • Gratitude:  Appreciate and look for the good even during bad times.  It rewires our brain and makes us more resilient to adversity. 
  • Realistic:  Set realistic goals that you can achieve.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the changes you have to make.  I’m a big fan of baby steps that are easy and lasts.
  • Personal Growth:  Learn your triggers and patterns.  And, redirect or remove things that sabotage you. 
  • Purpose:  Build resilience not through resentment but by offering help to those worse off.  Make someone else feel good.

Quiet the voice that shames you from needing help.  We don’t need to be strong alone.  Find support! 

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

Why the Brain Resists Diets

April 15, 2017

I learned that 80% of 10 year old girls have tried dieting. What??!!!  I have a 2 year old daughter and I want to prevent this vicious cycle of dieting for her, for your daughter, and for you.  I hope I can convince you to never put yourself or anyone on a diet.

The brain controls hunger & energy automatically.  This is good that the brain works on an unconscious level because it would be exhausting if we had to remember to breathe, or relearn walking over and over again.  The brain also controls weight.  The hypothalamus brain regulates weight by telling the body to gain or lose weight to keep weight stable as conditions change much like a thermostat in our house.  If it gets cold, kick up the heat.  If it gets hot, kick up the AC and keep the set point the same.  

When we lose lots of weight , the brain thinks it’s starving and prompts hunger signals and tells the muscle to burn less energy.  The brain thinks food is scarce and conserves energy (no matter what our weight is).  When we get food, it prompts the body to store the fat to prepare for next “winter.”  This is evolution for survival.  Human evolution has seen more years of food scarcity than 24/7 drive-thru.   

Research shows that 5 years after a diet, we regain the weight back and 40% gain even more.  At worst, diets ruin lives with eating disorders.  Girls who diet in their early teenage years are 3 times more likely to be overweight 5 years later (even if they started out thin).  

In my office, we focus on eating mindfully and intuitively versus using willpower and control.  People who use the controlled method are more likely to be overweight and binge because willpower expires when you decide to focus on something else.  

Let’s tell our girls to eat when they are hungry.  Let’s eat when WE are hungry and stop eating when we are full.  Let’s learn the cues our body sends us constantly, listen, and figure out what makes our body feel good.  Give yourself permission to eat what you want.  Relax around food.  Your stress is making you binge! 

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 

Why Working Harder Does Not Lead to Success

April 1, 2017

Most of us want to succeed.  We want to be better at being a parent, improve at our jobs, be a better partner, a better student, or succeed in weight loss and healthy eating.  It seems we just work harder but don’t necessarily see improvement.  Why?

I recently read an article about the need to dedicate our efforts into performance and learning zones.  As a society, we create social risks, we judge ourselves and each others’ mistakes, and therefore, we work/live within our perimeters without much success.  We live in the performance zone consistently trying to do better but what we really need to do is take time away from performing and learn in order to progress.  Even in school, a place to learn, students are judged solely by their grades and not given the space to take the risk of a lower grade in order to learn. 

There are a few aspects necessary to work in the learning zone.  We need to believe that we can achieve this task, we have to want it, we need a plan of how to improve, and the stakes must be low.  For example, we can’t practice our trapeze moves without a net on the bottom.  This cannot cause us our job or risk our lives.  Learning can mean practicing a specific task that needs improvement, reflecting on performance and adjusting, reading, asking for feedback, etc.  Make sure to set specific times for each zone. 

This happens in my office.  We learn, reflect on our performance, then set specific tasks that we want to achieve.  Then, we build upon these successes (as we perform) and set more action steps.  In the end, my clients are much more successful in weight loss, diet, eating healthy, and exercise because we’ve taken the time to work in the learning zone and not just work harder without direction, reflection, and focus. 

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

Over-Committed? Need More Time?

March 15, 2017

Most of my clients are too busy and over-committed which is why they find themselves feeling exhausted, sick, and overweight.  We stopped listening to our body and only when we get sick (migraines, diabetes, fibromyalgia, digestive issues, etc), are we forced to stop and figure out what’s wrong. 

Between responsibilities with career, marriage, kids, pro bono work, and social obligations, many of us over-commit.  We pack our schedule to the point that we not only run ourselves ragged but somehow there’s always curve balls to handle too.  This leads us feeling strayed from what’s truly important to us in life and often becomes detrimental to our relationships and health.  Does this sound all too familiar?

 Let’s focus on some tips that will create more time in our day:

  • Wiggle Room.  We pack our activities back to back.  Leave room to breathe, accommodate for traffic, or just being able to get there without rushing.
  • Understand Limits.  Don’t schedule more than one super demanding task a day.  Most of us don’t know how long something will take us.  Start paying attention to how long it takes you to get a routine task done.
  • Timing.  When do you have the most energy and creative juice?  Work with your natural energy then you’ll be more efficient using less energy.
  • Use Technology.  The work place has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades.  With smart phones, emails, and international companies, we can literally work around the clock, anywhere.  This has sucked us dry.  So…when you start working on your computer, turn off all email alerts, phone ringers, and social media.  Set a timer for your project and focus.
  • One Task.  “If you have 10 balls in the air, 9 of them are in free fall.”  We think that we can accomplish more by multitasking but we are actually less efficient.  Our brains are binary – focused or not focused.  Stick to one task. Delegate when possible.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY:  Prioritize the Moment!!!  Honor the priority of the moment and set time for work, family, and self-care without any overlap.  Don’t spend time with someone and check email or social media.  It doesn’t give your loved ones the attention they deserve.  Don’t skimp on the self-care.  It’s the lifeline that will keep you going.

It’s not easy to make changes.  Baby steps!  I hope that these tips will at least bring light to some of your over-commitment troubles and have you focus on making changes.   

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

Sunscreens to AVOID

March 1, 2017

With summer around the corner, I thought it would be nice to get a head start and talk about sunscreen before you run out and purchase some.  At Happy Food, all aspects of health are important including nutrition, exercise, food politics, mental health, work/life balance, relationships, and of course, skin care/cancer prevention.  I hope this helps.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a Sunscreen Guide and here are some guidelines:

  1. Don’t be fooled by high SPF. Anything higher than “SPF 50+” can tempt you to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburn but not other skin damage. FDA says these numbers are misleading. Avoid SPF 50+ and reapply often.
  2. Some sunscreens cause skin cancer. Eating vitamin A-laden vegetables is good for you, but spreading vitamin A on the skin may not be. New data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams. Vitamin A, listed as “retinyl palmitate” on ingredient labels, is in 41% of sunscreens.
  3. Avoid toxic ingredients. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates skin and contaminates the body. Look for zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. These substances protect you from harmful UVA radiation and remain on the skin, with little if any penetration. Also, skip sunscreens containing insect repellent – if you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it first.
  4. Pick a good sunscreen. The best protection from the sun is shade, hat, and clothes. Check out EWG’s sunscreen ratings which include best children’s sunscreen, worst children’s sunscreen, and best sports/beach sunscreen:    http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen
  5. Cream, spray or powder – and how often? Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead. Reapply them often, because sunscreen chemicals break apart in the sun, wash off and rub off.
  6. Message for men: Wear sunscreens. Surveys show that 34 percent of men wear sunscreens, compared to 78 percent of women. Start now to reduce your cumulative lifetime exposure to UV radiation. Also, wear sunglasses to prevent cataracts. 
  7. We need sunlight. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, which skin manufactures in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D has been shown to help joint pain, depression, and even fit some cancers.  So get 10-20 minutes of sunshine on bare skin a day (without sunscreen) ideally early or late in the day when UV rays are weakest. 

The thought of lathering cancer-causing chemicals to prevent skin cancer is ironic.  More than three-fourths of the 750 sunscreens evaluated by EWG offer inferior protection or have worrisome ingredients.  The FDA started their sunscreen regulations back in August 1978.  It took until 2011, and they came up with something but it’s unsubstantial.  Our sunscreen can be much better especially with melanoma on the rise.

Enjoy your summer but follow the guidelines above.

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

Can Trees Help Us Lose Weight?

February 15, 2017

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is today.  So make it TODAY!  Don’t wait until tomorrow, whether it’s getting healthy, losing weight, being organized, finishing a project, exercising, cooking, learning a new skill/dance/language, etc.  Let’s aim for TODAY since we missed 20 years ago.

Tu Bishvat, Jewish Arbor (or Earth) Day, is a day where you plant a tree.  When I lived in Niger, West Africa, their independence day is also plant-a-tree day.  There, it was during rainy season so that the tree would take root and survive since there’s no irrigation system (nature used to grow everything).  But in Israel, there is irrigation so why is Arbor Day during the cold of winter?  Because of the journey…

We don’t plant a tree expecting it to bear fruit and provide the end result.  The true reward is the journey.  We live in an instant gratification society.  It’s the journey that is truly amazing.  Think back to all things you accomplished that was truly meaningful.  It was always the journey that made it so powerful.

Same with weight loss and health.  Don’t forget the journey.  Like the tree learning to take root, burgeoning new leaves, blossoming, you are also learning, growing, and flourishing.  For many of my clients, this is about the process.  Changing our palates so that we don’t have to deny ourselves anymore; we simply don’t enjoy the junk we liked in the past or it makes us sick.  We learn to cook things that are so delicious that our whole family enjoys it too.”  We find exercises that we can’t wait to do instead of forcing it.  We crave the “healthy stuff” after we ate party foods that made us ill.  We find the journey so rewarding that we forget about the destination. “But this is so easy,” claims so many of my clients.  “I don’t even think about it or count calories, and this is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a program.”

Now, that’s the journey I’m talking about.  Don’t plant your tree tomorrow and don’t plant it expecting fruits immediately.  I challenge you to discover the journey.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised with a tree that will bear fruit forever.

Changing old habits isn’t easy. 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