Frequently asked questions

Navigating your way through a new eating plan can be daunting and confusing and with many questions, here are some of them we have received, and their answers.     

Q - I've just made the smoothie using a Nutri bullet but the quantity is huge! The ingredients only just fitted in the largest container - in fact I had to leave the lemon out as wouldn’t fit in! I followed the ingredients and even used fresh kale - I don’t think my hands (for the handfuls) are bigger than average!!

A - The recipe does make a massive amount and we suggest you sip it slowly throughout the morning rather than trying to down it all in one go. Perhaps some before a run or a class, some after, or save some for mid afternoon. Reduce the kale to the amount that sits in the palm of your hand if that helps!

Q -I have to limit carefully the amount of apple I eat due to the FODMAP diet; do you have a preferred or recommended alternative for the breakfast juice? Otherwise could I just leave it out at this point? 

A - At this point I would simply omit the apple and if there are any other foods that you would prefer to avoid then please do so. You are likely to find a few other foods in the ReNew Plan that may not be included on the FODMAP diet, and in most cases there will be ways that you can swap/omit them. However, if you are unsure at all then please drop us an email.

Q - When you say kale for the breakfast smoothie is this fresh/raw/uncooked?? My husband already has some frozen kale he uses in his smoothies - can I also use this instead of fresh? I always thought kale etc had to be cooked before eating? 

Fresh is best because it has a higher fibre content but if you've already got frozen in the house that you use for smoothies, I suggest you use that up and then have a week with fresh and see if you are both happy with that. If not - go back to frozen. The amount is quite small in our breakfast juice, too much is rather bitter but raw is now problem at all. 

Q - I'm not usually a breakfast smoothie person in fact I never have breakfast normally but will definitely give them a go. The hardest thing for me will be not having my 2 milky lattes every morning.  

As you become used to experimenting with new foods, think about using soya or almond milk to replace the dairy milk and aim to reduce your intake to one, rather than two. If you hate it then use the milky latte as a treat, something you actively sit down and savour, maybe a few times a week, rather than two each day, in a mad rush. SEE NEXT QUESTION!

Q - You mention trying to avoid coffee on the 14 days and opting for hot water & lemon or herbal teas, but can I drink regular tea and decaffeinated coffee?

A - We have advised that one cup of coffee a day (or tea for that matter) is fine if you are finding it very hard to completely go without. However please don’t add sugar and do try some herbal teas that are available. You may be surprised! Decaffeinated coffee can be full of chemicals so opt for the Clipper decaf (that you can purchase from Waitrose) or, if you are drinking ground decaf, then opt for a chemical-free one (again, they sell this at Waitrose and it can be bought from coffee retailers. If you are a regular coffee or tea drinker and have several cups of either/both a day, we would prefer it if you didn’t simply swap caffeine for non-caffeine varieties. Whilst we do not demonise coffee and tea, we would like you to use this as an opportunity to reduce your consumption and try herbal teas, as these come with additional and varying health benefits.

Q - My daughter has a tree nut allergy so we don't have any tree nuts in the house and I would feel very anxious about having them around, could you suggest alternatives? I can see you recommend flaxseed/linseed oil for the juices so I'm just thinking about snacks really.

A - You are absolutely right to be very wary of introducing something into the house which, in your daughters case, could cause so much harm! Peanuts are actually legumes rather than nuts so those with nut allergies can often tolerate them freely. Many commercially produced peanut butters are high in sugar and extra oil and whilst they are good providers of Omega 6 fatty acids, they are not as high in Omega 3. However, peanuts are a good source of protein so we use them for our power ball recipes in Part Two and Three but if we used other nut butters for these, the cost could become very high. As much as we are also trying to get people to experiment with new tastes and flavours, hence other other nut butters, in your case, this may be counter productive so stick to what works for you and your family! Adding some flaxseed/linseed to your smoothies or recipes will give you the Omega 3 via that source

Q - Can I use dates in the protein balls instead of dates or apricots?

A - Yes you can, you will need to de-stone them obviously but feel free to mix and match between dates and the two suggested fruits, just don't use mixed dried fruit as it has lemon in it.

Q - Do the portion sizes need to vary dependent on the size of the person (eg a woman of 5ft and a man of 6ft?)

A - Unfortunately this will never be a totally straightforward answer, as we all eat vastly different amounts for vastly different reasons - size, habit, greed, time of month, tiredness, exercise, dehydration - to name but a few. We would advise that everyone, regardless of their size, tries eating the amount that we have suggested and see how they manage on that. If you feel like it isn’t enough for you, then increase the amount of protein and fat first, just not by much. For example, if you are eating a chicken breast as your protein source for a particular meal, then add a further 1/4 of a chicken breast or add another tablespoon of pulses, another handful of seeds etc. Look out for things like hydration - are you starting a meal thirsty? It is a good habit to not only ensure you are hydrated throughout the day, but also sip a glass of water prior to eating. This will help to prevent overeating. Don’t leave meals until you are starving, you are more likely to bolt your food and overeat. Also chew slowly and take regular breaks whilst eating. Try to eat the protein, fat and vegetables before the grains. Your body will take longer to digest protein and fat so by starting on these first you less likely to overeat.

 

Q - When we mention mackerel, do we mean fresh, smoked or either?

A - Either are good, but just avoid any with sauces. Aim for fillets that are unsmoked, however if that is all that you can find then opt for them but don’t have more than twice a week and remember to remove the skin. The fishmonger in Sevenoaks will often do them on a Saturday and they also have them in Lidl (but watch out for bones!) Moderation is key as well as choosing as many types of protein sources as possible (a mixture of meat and vegetarian) as we want to encourage everyone to broaden their tastes as much as possible.

 

Q - I felt cold during the 3 day ReCharge, will this continue?

Coldness can be a sign that you are not taking on enough calories. If you started the ReCharge phase straight after eating quite large amounts (especially following a 2 week holiday or perhaps Christmas) as well as exercising frequently  and working then you may have felt it quite a shock to the system. The ReCharge Phase should ideally be carried out when you have a relatively quiet few days (but we know that this isn’t always possible!) Now you are well into the ReVive phase, and eating more food at regular intervals, you should hopefully feel warmer and have more energy. It is always a good sign to note down changes like these and, if you do feel that you are experiencing any unpleasant side-effects, or you feel unwell at any point then please let us know. There is nothing on the plan that should make anyone ill, but if you don’t feel like something is right, then please get in touch. Remember that for some of you this may be quite a change in the way you were previously eating/drinking, and it can take some of us longer to adjust than others. We are confident though that you will start to notice the benefits soon, if you haven’t already!

 

Q - Is coconut milk the same as coconut water?

If you are looking for a milk replacement to use in meals and juices, then opt for coconut milk (such as Koko) as this provides you with the fat that you need in order to sustain you. If you are simply looking for a drink/re-hydration substitute as a change from regular water, then feel free to use coconut water. However don’t feel that you ‘have’ to drink coconut water in place of regular water. Many people enjoy it as they find water boring, but if you don’t want to spend the extra money and are happy with good, old-fashioned water then stick with that!

Q- What is the difference between Tamari and Tahini?

Lots! 

Tamari is a Soy sauce replacement often found where you would find Soy Sauce and other similar products. Tamari is made with no (or very little) wheat, while traditional soy sauce does contain wheat.

Other Differences

Soy sauce and its many forms are found widely throughout Asia, but tamari is specifically a Japanese form of soy sauce, traditionally made as a byproduct of miso paste. The differences in production give each sauce its own unique flavor. Tamari has a darker color and richer flavor than the common Chinese soy sauce you may be more familiar with. It also tastes more balanced and less salty than the sometimes harsh bite of soy sauce, which makes it great for dipping.

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is also called sesame paste or sesame butter. It is like peanut butter but made from sesame seeds. There are several available options when you purchase tahini.

The first consideration when it comes to choosing a tahini is whether to purchase a product made from unhulled or hulled sesame seeds. Tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds is more nutrient-rich than tahini made from hulled seeds, but it is also more bitter; this type of tahini is usually referred to as sesame butter. Since both versions would still make for good food choices, you can let your taste buds decide which type—the one made from hulled seeds or the one made from unhulled seeds—is more pleasing to you.

Roasted versus raw is another choice you have to make when it comes to selecting tahini. Raw (non-roasted) tahini is sufficiently higher in nutrient content, and I believe it's the better choice here. Some manufacturers add additional oils to their tahini. I would recommend purchasing tahini with no added oils so that the tahini is made only from pure ground sesame seeds.

You can easily find tahini in either health food shops or regular supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose. There are many different ways that you can enjoy tahini in your Healthiest Way of Eating. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and babaganoush. It makes a wonderful base for salad dressings and adds great nutritional value and texture to smoothies.