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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


Don’t Let Food Marketing Fool You

December 1, 2018

I know big food corporations aren't "bad."  They are not out to make us fat or sick.  They just want to make money, so then it's all about the bottom line.  I do a lot of educating in my office so that we are completely aware.  It's OK to have treats but we are not eating something thinking it's healthy when it actually isn't.  Arm yourself with knowledge and apply the action steps necessary to build habits you want to keep for life.  That is the key to weight loss, healthy lifestyle, and maintaining it all with ease.  Here are just a few examples of their deceptions.  Don't fall for it.

  • Very Berry Cheerios "flavored with real fruit."  There's more salt and sugar than berries.  There are no whole berries.  Same with their Pumpkin Spice Cheerios "made with REAL pumpkin puree."  Again, more salt and sugar than pumpkin.  "Real food tastes better" does NOT include much real food, unfortunately.
  • Vitaminwater Active has 100 calories worth of mostly sugar with a hint of vitamins.  It's Coca-Cola's way of making you think ordinary water is not enough for an ordinary workout.  It's great for their bottom line though.
  • Protein One Bars have "only 90 calories, 10 gram of protein, and 1 gram of sugar" but also includes whey and soy protein isolates, maltitol, palm oil, glycerin, and dozens more processed ingredients.  Grab a fruit as your snack instead at least your body will know how to process that.
  • Kashi Breakfast Bars "now more fruit," but the additional fruit is made up of pear juice concentrate, tapioca syrup, cane sugar, apple powder, strawberry puree concentrate, cornstarch, vegetable glycerin, natural flavor, and elderberry juice concentrate for color."  Hmm..doesn't sound so healthy to me.  Sounds like a lot of added sugar.
  • Silk Prebiotics Almond & Cashew Milk really just adds chicory root extract (inulin), a carb that your digestive system can't break down causing gas.  Not a whole lot of prebiotic benefits. 
  • There are a million other examples as our supermarkets are filled with processed food. 
By the way, cereal (and now quick breakfast bars) is an American invented food that is far from healthy.  Think outside of the cereal box.  There is nothing healthy about it.  Learn how to eat foods that help us thrive, lose weight, and be full of energy. 
 
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

Change Your Mood, Change Your Weight

November 15, 2018

When I give presentations, people always tell me "I eat when I'm sad and I eat when I'm happy too. I eat at every occasion." Does that mean we are destined to be overweight? No, there's a difference. When we are experiencing a negative mood, we eat more and we keep eating. You may call this emotional eating. When we are in a happy mode, on the hand, we might have greater caloric intake but we stop eating.

Emotional eating is 70% of overeating. So if we can adjust our emotions/moods, we can avoid 70% of overeating which is HUGE for weight loss. So who eats emotionally? Generally, emotional eaters are busy with no time to feel. They are out of touch with their body. And they feel safer blocking their feelings with food than actually allowing themselves to feel. With a society so focused on intellect, this doesn't come as a surprise. We value the head and feelings are often considered a sign of weakness.

Take a look at our diet world. It's all about the latest information, counting calories, and restrictions. Nowhere are we allowed to feel. To listen to the body and feel what it needs. Sometimes it actually wants the healthy stuff and other times, it craves treats. A diet would shame you from having it, your cravings take on monstrous form, then guilt adds more visceral fat due to the heightened cortisol your body experiences while you're trying to diet. In addition, when we suppress our emotions or our emotions are extreme, both causes the same level of inflammation. When we can regulate our emotions, we live longer, live better, and have good body weight.

Here's one question to ask yourself. "What is eating to you?" Is it guilt, pleasure, or a nuisance? These negative emotions actually lead to greater weight gain, more stomach fat, and a vicious cycle of emotional eating followed by dieting then repeat. Become more aware of your body and your emotions. Develop alternatives and use a 15 minute wait-out period. Definitely stop the shame and judgment with food. STOP Dieting!! Our mood is everything. Let us help you address this root cause and healthy eating will fall right into place easily.

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

Why Do We Lose Memory & How to Protect It

November 1, 2018

How does memory work?  It's weird that some slip by too easily and others are so ingrained.  With each experience we have, neurons transfer experience to short-term memory then to long-term memory where it is stored in the brain.  When 2 neurons communicate repeatedly, that memory is strong and gets stored in the long-term memory.

So how is memory lost?  Here are some reasons:

  • Age.  Unfortunately with age, our synapses weaken, there's a decrease in production of neuron transmitters used for memory/learning, and the brain shrinks.  We lose 5% of our hippocampus every decade. 
  • Health.  Memory is strongest when we are deeply engaged and information is most relevant or important to us.  Physical and mental health issues interfere with how we pay attention.  This results in memory loss.
  • Depression. Those who are depressed are 40% more likely to develop memory problems.  Like the above problem, they struggle to pay attention to new information and less attentive due in part to low serotonin levels.  Again, resulting in memory loss.
  • Stress. Stress is necessary for survival; it increases alertness.  But too much, like chronic stress, floods the brain with chemicals and results in brain cell loss, the inability to form new ones, and retention of new information decreases. 
  • Isolation.  One study showed that older people with more social integration have a slower rate of memory decline over a 6 year period.  Like a muscle, social interaction provides the brain a workout. 
This all seems depressing especially if you relate to several of the above.  There's hope.  I'm a big fan of solutions and empowerment to make changes.
  • Eat Well.  Nutrients fuel the brain.  In my office, we make these links between eating well, stress, depression, memory, etc.  They are all connected.  Learn to eat well with ease.  With education, habit, and practice, you WILL eat well easily.  Please, no dieting!
  • Physical Activity.  Exercise sends blood to the brain, replenishes oxygen, and regulates our hormones and blood sugar, and more.  We have to move!
  • Brain Exercise.  The brain really is just another muscle.  We use it or loss it so learn a new language and keep learning new things. Make learning your life-long goal.
Don't blame age.  We can all slow down the clock by eating great food, exercising, learning, laughing, socializing, and finding balance. 
 
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