Congrats! You’ve made it through the elimination phase of your nutrition protocol.
Whether you feel incredible and want to keep going or you’d like to reintroduce foods to check your tolerance level, my ultimate goal is to help you maintain your success.
Alright, wondering what’s next? It’s time to reintroduce the foods that you have removed over the past 4-6 weeks!
The purpose of the reintroduction process is to discover which foods (if any) may have been causing symptoms. Now that you gave your immune system a chance to “relax” over the past few weeks, it is much easier to detect adverse food reactions.
However, there is definitely a method to this process if you want to ensure accuracy, so here are my top three tips to ensure your reintroduction success.
Did you know it can take up to 4 days for your body to experience a reaction from reintroducing a new food? This is why your goal should be to reintroduce one new food every 4 days. This is what your schedule should look like.
- Day 1: One serving of the new food in the a.m. (ideally on an empty or fairly empty stomach). Take note of any reactions. If you feel well, try it again that afternoon between lunch and dinner.
- Day 2: OFF from that food. Give your body a break and wait for any delayed reactions.
- Day 3: Repeat exactly like day one with the same food.
- Day 4: OFF. If you still feel well at the end of day 4, you may reintroduce that particular food into your weekly routine. (Although, eating something all day, every day, no matter how well your tolerance, is never a smart idea!)
In order to properly reintroduce a food, that food must be “naked” during those first 4 days. In other words, that particular food should stand alone. If you want to bring back dairy, you would start with cow’s milk because there are no added ingredients vs. ice cream where you have cow’s milk and 7+ additional ingredients. If you want to bring back gluten, choose a pasta where the only ingredient is semolina wheat vs. wheat bread that includes numerous ingredients. Even if you choose a high quality, pure ingredient option, we want to eliminate all possibilities of additional food reactions from additives.
Document The Process
It is incredibly important for you to take notes during the reintroduction phase. What did you eat? (I often suggest that my clients take a picture of the ingredient list.) How much? Did you react negatively or positively to that food? These notes will help guide you throughout your food journey and if for whatever reason you are unable to draw helpful patterns and correlations, it would be very beneficial to share your journal with a healthcare practitioner who is trained in elimination diets.
My hope is that by the end of this experience, you will have found which foods are aggravating your immune system and which foods you tolerate best. If you are still experiencing symptoms, it would be a great time to schedule with a dietitian who is trained in Functional Nutrition! A list of qualified practitioners near you can be found here.
What questions to you have around reintroducing foods into your routine and elimination diets in general?