Because the best souvenir is nutritional know-how.

By Siobhan Reid
April 19, 2018
Courtesy of Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

Wellness resorts are all the rage these days: Top health hotels like Canyon Ranch and Rancho La Puerta help harried urbanites reconnect with nature, rediscover nutritious, plant-based foods, and conquer stress.

But it’s one thing making healthy choices, say, at a luxury wellness resort on the ocean, and another when you’re back to your daily grind.

Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, a newly renovated hotel on North Beach, understands the challenge of bringing these healthy practices back home, and has launched a number of services and unique amenities in response.

One such offering is a one-on-one consultation with a so-called “grocery guru,” who teaches guests how to make healthy choices in the supermarket. After an initial conversation in which the client’s goals and lifestyle is discussed, the grocery guru and the guest hit the aisles, analyzing nutrition labels, doing product comparisons, and examining produce.

We caught up with the grocery guru, registered dietitian and personal trainer Monika Arenas, to learn more about the one-of-a-kind service and get her best tips for eating well at home and on the road.

Courtesy of Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

T+L: Where did idea behind the “grocery guru” service originate?

“The Carillon is really committed to the long-term wellness game. We want to teach guests how to make mindful changes that they can apply to their lives back home. The grocery guru service is an extension of that philosophy.”

What does the tour to the grocery store entail?

“The whole thing takes 90 minutes. We start in the produce aisle, where we look at the organic and seasonal options and learn how to do price comparison. Then it’s on to the rest of the store to find nutritious snack options, good quality meats and fish, and more. I'll ask guests what they typically buy, then make recommendations on healthier alternatives. For example, if someone regularly buys potato chips, I'll suggest baked or kale chips."

Courtesy of Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

What are the biggest mistakes people make at the store?

“Where to start?! For one, grabbing whatever looks appealing. Whether it’s fancy packaging or eye-catching labels, I see a lot of people reaching for things that are well-marketed but not great from a nutritional standpoint. I also see a lot of people buying fat-free items, not realizing that a lot of these foods are packed with fillers and chemicals. Lastly, too many people are buying packaged products that are super high in sugar and sodium.”

Beyond the grocery store, how can people make good dietary choices when they travel?

“Keep snacks on you at all time. I love Shanti bars, RX bars, and raw nuts. And when you eat out, fill half your plate with vegetables and allow yourself to only indulge in only one of the three: breads, beverages, or dessert.”

Courtesy of Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

Any other tips?

“Make sure you’re moving during the day and not eating to the point of being stuffed. You’re allowed to indulge on vacation— you just have to do some mindfully and with moderation.”