I Needed a Food Tutor, Here’s What I Learned When I Got One

Photo: Elena Mudd
Lately, I feel like I need a food-focused bullet journal just to keep up with the many, many wellness buzzwords, what they mean, and whether or not I should be taking stock of them in my life. Even working at a wellness company, I still find myself racking my brain on whether I should invest my money in probiotics, while eating prebiotics (or vice versa); I still can't tell you whether a juice or smoothie is optimal; and if you asked me whether vegan or Paleo is better for you, I'd blankly stare at you until you walked away.

Needless to say, I needed a food tutor. So, at the Well+Good Retreat at the Cedar Lakes Estate, special guest Sophia Roe, who's just as much of a whiz at reading menus as she is deciphering beauty label, played the role in perfect step. While, obviously everyone's eating off a plate (slash cup in the case of smoothies) that looks best for them, I still wanted to get to the bottom of common food questions. Here, Sophia Roe tells me what to eat.

Keep scrolling to hear what Sophia Roe has to say on the buzziest food terms and eating schools of thought here.

Sophia Roe
Photo: Elena Mudd

Probiotic vs. prebiotic

If you're on a budget and you've got pretty good digestion, just take your probiotic. If you've got crazy digestion and you're either constipated or you have IBS symptoms, like leaky gut, and you're trying to get yourself balanced, I think it's important to take a form of probiotic that has prebiotic in it (NueCo makes a great one.)

If you are going to get a probiotic, I feel strongly that you buy it in store and that you don't buy it online because most need to be refrigerated and that kind of defeats the purpose if you buy yours online. My favorite prebiotic food is tiger nuts or artichokes. My favorite probiotic food is all that fermented stuff: I love kimchi.

Raw vs. cooked foods

You should be right smack in the middle. I don’t love 100 percent raw, and I don’t love 100 percent cooked; it should be a combo of both. I think if you eat too much raw food, it can cause constipation, aggravated skin and rashes, and if you choose too much cooked food you might be missing out of vital nutrients, so somewhere in the middle of raw and cooked is right where you want to be.

Juice vs. smoothies

Let's be clear in terms of weighing the options of juice vs. smoothie: you have to compare a green juice to a green smoothie. They're both valuable but in different ways and for different reasons. First thing in the morning, I love having a juice, and after my workout, I love having a smoothie. You want to make sure that you're watching your sugar, not because sugar is bad, but it's one of those things that's a slippery slope. Especially if you're throwing in high-sugar fruits like apples, pineapples, and mangoes, it's important to find balance.

In my opinion, fruit should be eaten alone and not paired with fat. If you're having a smoothie that has pineapples and mangoes and you're throwing in cashews, peanut butter, coconut oil, and MCT oil, you have to realize that your body's made of water, and oil and water don't always mix. Mixing a lot of fat and sugar can cause a lot of distention or bloating in the gut, so be mindful of that when you're having a smoothie. Foods digest at different rates, and different enzymes are required to break down both of them which can be confusing to your pancreas. Obviously, when you're having a juice that's not as much of a problem because you're not going to be putting fat in it.

Vegan vs. Paleo

If you're really going to go for a vegan diet, you want to make sure that you're eating bigger portions of healthy food than you normally might because you're eating a lot of food that's super nutrient-rich but isn't calorie rich.

I like the concept of Paleo because you're eating one-ingredient foods. I don't think there's anything wrong with avoiding grains, I just think you should make sure you're getting lots of sweet potatoes and getting those complex carbs in. In terms of eating meat, have some balance—Paleo doesn't mean you're a carnivore only and you're not eating vegetables.

If you're eating vegan: great. If you're eating Paleo: great. But here's why you might want to rethink vegan-Paleo and this is a healthy Paleo cheese cake recipe that's to die for.

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