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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:  http://www.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