The 30-day elimination phase of the Whole30 gets a lot of attention. It is called the Whole30, after all, and participants and the media love discussing the long (but temporary) list of foods you have to eliminate. But those first 30 days are only half of the Whole30. Reintroduction, which starts on Day 31 and takes around 10 days on average, is the second half—and where you’ll gain a ton of learnings.
During elimination, you got to experience what life was like without those potentially problematic foods in your diet. You may have experienced an increase in energy, deeper sleep, smoother digestion, improved focus, and fewer cravings. During elimination, you may also have noticed a decrease in unwanted symptoms, like acne, allergies, asthma, migraines, joint pain and swelling, or anxiety. This is all great news! Something in your diet was exacerbating those symptoms, and elimination has shown you how good life can be without those triggers.
But… which foods were negatively impacting you, and which ones could you reincorporate back into your diet while still feeling your best? Reintroduction will reveal all!
During reintroduction, you’ll bring back the food groups you’ve eliminated—one at a time, carefully and systematically—and compare your experience. Reintroduction shows you which foods may be promoting your bloating, allergy symptoms, anxiety, or digestive distress. Reintroduction helps you confirm the foods that do work well in your system, so you can happily keep eating them. And it’s the key to your food freedom, where you’ll be able to confidently answer, “Is it worth it?”, allowing you to take your Whole30 experience and effectively turn it into a sustainable, personalized, joyful diet.
Now that we’ve established the importance of a dedicated and thorough reintroduction, we’ll share three steps to help you successfully prepare for Whole30 reintroduction, so you can extract as many learnings out of your Whole30 as possible.
Step 1: Create a thorough plan
Ideally, you’ll plan for Whole30 reintroduction just as thoroughly as you planned for elimination. That planning would include:
- Reviewing your program’s reintroduction schedule (click here for the Original Whole30, click here for the Plant-Based Whole30)
- Decide whether you want to extend your program by breaking food groups out further (ex: reintroducing rice separately from other non-gluten grains)
- Create a calendar, labeling each day with your reintroduction group, followed by 2-3 days back on Whole30 elimination. Repeat until all reintroduction groups have been added, plus 2-3 days of elimination.
Now you’ve got a template for the next 10+ days, knowing exactly what you’ll be eating on which day. This can also help you plan social or special events around your reintroduction schedule. If there’s a big game on Sunday, you may choose to reintroduce alcohol or dairy that day to enjoy some of your favorite game-day fare.
Step 2: Plan your reintroduction meals
Now that you’ve got your reintroduction calendar, it’s time to start planning your meals, just like you did for elimination.
- On reintroduction days, plan a Whole30 meal just as you’ve been eating, then add one food from that day’s reintroduction group to each meal.
- As an example, on dairy day, eat a side of plain Greek yogurt with your veggie omelet, a hefty dollop of sour cream to your Smoky Sweet Potato Chili, and a layer of mozzarella or parmesan cheese over your spaghetti squash, marinara sauce, and meatballs.
- Plan your in-between meals, too! This is a great spot to plug in your favorite Whole30 dishes for those 2-3 days between reintroduction groups.
You can plan 3-4 days at a time (your reintroduction group plus 2-3 elimination days), a week at a time, or your entire reintroduction schedule at once! It depends on how often you want to grocery shop, how much flexibility you want in your schedule, and how much time you have to meal prep during the week.
Step 3: Track your results
Reintroduction will be full of learnings, and you’ll want to capitalize on those as much as possible. Set up a way to track your reintroduction, and get familiar with what to look for.
- Not sure what to look for during reintroduction? Review our checklist! Bookmark it or print it off and keep it handy—these are the factors you’ll be evaluating during your reintroduction phase.
- Decide how you’ll track your results, both during a reintroduction day and in the 2-3 days following. You can take notes in your Notes app, a journal, or the pages dedicated to reintroduction in your Whole30 Day by Day journal.
- Make note of the reintroduced foods and how they impacted you throughout the day and in the days following.
When it comes to tracking, you can do it any way you want. Keep it simple by documenting a few factors (like energy, sleep, cravings, digestion, and mood) on a scale of 1-10. Pay special attention to particular areas of interest (like anxiety, allergies, or pain), especially if you felt dramatically better during elimination. Or, get into as much meal-by-meal detail as you can, knowing the more you pay attention here, the more lessons you’ll have to take with you into your food freedom.
The gateway to lasting food freedom
When reintroduction is over, you’ll have a much better understanding of how various food groups affect you, positively or negatively. What you choose to do with that information in your food freedom is always up to you.
The Whole30 can help you make conscientious, deliberate decisions about including your favorite foods, culturally significant foods, or family traditions into your diet in a way that feels joyful and sustainable and keeps you feeling your best. Committing to a thorough reintroduction, planning your meals carefully, and documenting your results will provide the insights and experience you need to get there.
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