Reintroduction: Part 2 of the Whole30
Reintroduction is mission-critical to your Whole30 experience. (Translation: DON’T SKIP IT, or you’ll lose half of the benefits the program has to offer!)
In this next phase of your Whole30, you’ll get to reintroduce the delicious foods you’ve been missing, and paying attention to their impact. Reintroducing food groups carefully and systematically one at a time will help you learn each affects your energy, sleep, mood, cravings, digestion, allergies, or migraines. You’ll be able to compare how you looked and felt without these foods to how you look and feel when you reintroduce them. This will give you critical information you need to create the perfect diet for you in your Food Freedom.
Reintroduction should take between 10 and 30 days and is not to be rushed! Food groups must be reintroduced one at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Think of it like a scientific experiment, where you’re looking to systematically evaluate just one factor at a time to see how it impacts you. If, on Day 31, you run right out and eat pizza, ice cream, and beer, how will you know what food to blame for the bloating, lethargy, poor sleep, and breakouts? (You won’t.)
You’ll also go back to the Whole30 by-the-book for two days between each reintroduction food group, to allow any symptoms brought on by reintroduction to settle down before you bring in something else. (This also gives you a touchpoint in case reintroducing cheese, bread, or sugar sends your cravings into overdrive.)
The Whole30 outlined two different sample reintroduction schedules: Fast Track and Slow Roll. We’ll outline a sample schedule for each, but here’s the gist:
- Ideally, you’ll reintroduce enough of each food group to test the effects. (A splash of milk in your coffee won’t allow you to see the impact of dairy on your system.)
- Keep reintroduced foods low in added sugar—ideally avoid sweet treats like cake, brownies, ice cream, or gluten-free cookies. If the only thing you really want is a combination of food groups (sugar + gluten, or sugar +dairy), just know that it may be hard to tease apart the effect of the sugar from everything else.
- If you really want to reintroduce sugar by itself, start there. However, most people find sugar alone isn’t the issue (if that were the case, you’d crave sugar packets). The combo of sugar + gluten/non-gluten grains/dairy tends to be what’s problematic, so most skip the “just sugar” and start with either alcohol or legumes.
- If you’re not missing a particular food or beverage or don’t want to include it in your Food Freedom, don’t bother reintroducing it!
(OPTIONAL) Added sugar: cane sugar in coffee, honey with sweet tea or drizzled on a sweet potato, salmon glazed with maple syrup, maple chicken sausage, honey ham.
(OPTIONAL) Gluten-free alcohol: gluten-free beer or cider, wine, and unflavored vodka, tequila, gin, rum, or any distilled (unflavored) spirits.
Legumes: hummus, tofu, black beans, lentils, natural peanut butter, dry roasted peanuts,
Non-gluten grains: corn on the cob, homemade popcorn, 100% corn tortillas, gluten-free oatmeal, white or brown rice, quinoa.
Dairy: heavy cream or full-fat milk, butter, plain yogurt or kefir, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, whey protein powder.
Gluten-containing grains: whole-grain bread, wraps, or tortillas; pasta or couscous; crackers; low-sugar whole-grain cereals Gluten-containing alcohol: beer
The best way to reintroduce a food is to plan normal Whole30 meals, then add one reintroduction food on the side or on top of each. Here are some ideas:
- Dip raw veggies in hummus with lunch, add a side of black beans to your lettuce-wrapped tacos, top an apple with natural peanut butter.
- Add oatmeal to your usual Whole30 breakfast, wrap your tacos in a 100% corn tortilla, add a side of rice to your Whole30 dinner.
- Add heavy cream to your coffee, eat a side of plain Greek yogurt with your veggie frittata, sprinkle cheese on your Whole30 salad.
- Add a side of whole wheat toast to your Whole30 breakfast, eat your lunch in a 100% whole grain wrap instead of lettuce, serve your Whole30 meatballs and marinara over pasta, or drink a beer with dinner.
It’s tough to come up with a comprehensive
list of everything that could happen when you reintroduce these potentially problematic
foods, because various components of different foods interact with every single
person in a unique fashion. You’re looking for any noticeable changes—a
reversal of improvement, a return to not-so-awesome, a decline in performance,
or a resurgence of symptoms. Here is a list of things you could evaluate during
the reintroduction phase, to determine if a particular food is having a
negative impact on you:
- Attention span/focus
- Breathing (asthma, congestion)
- Athletic performance or recovery
- Medical symptoms
Fast Track Reintroduction
Our Fast Track reintroduction has you consistently reintroducing foods on a set schedule, in order of least commonly problematic to most. The benefit of a Fast Track is that you get all of your reintroduction over in 10-20 days, which means you get to live your Food Freedom fast! The drawback is that reintroducing all of these potentially problematic things at once means you might feel pretty crappy for a week or two.
- Days 1–30: Whole30
- Day 31 (optional): Reintroduce added sugar all by itself.
- Days 32–33: Back to the Whole30.
- Day 34 (optional): Reintroduce gluten-free alcohol all by itself.
- Days 35–36: Back to the Whole30
- Day 37: Reintroduce legumes all by themselves.
- Days 38–39: Back to the Whole30
- Day 40: Reintroduce non-gluten grains all by themselves
- Days 41–42: Back to the Whole30
- Day 43: Reintroduce dairy all by itself.
- Day 44–45: Back to the Whole30
- Day 46: Reintroduce gluten-grains all by themselves.
- Day 47–48: Back to the Whole30
You can break this schedule down as detailed as you like—reintroduction could easily stretch out for another 30 days. The slower you go, the more you’ll learn!
Remember that the impact of these potentially less-healthy foods adds up. If at any point you feel like you haven’t adequately recovered from the effects of the reintroduced foods, give yourself a few more days of Whole30 between food groups.
Slow Roll Reintroduction
The Slow Roll schedule doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The whole point is for you to continue eating mostly Whole30 until something so special or delicious comes along that you decide you’re ready to indulge, and evaluate the effects. The benefit of a Slow Roll is that you get to keep all (or most) of your Whole30 benefits (and remain symptom-free) while still enjoying the occasional special, delicious foods you love. The drawback is you’ll be testing foods “in the wild” instead of setting aside a few days specifically to reintroduce, which means you may end up discovering something really doesn’t work for you at a wedding or on a vacation.
To make the Slow Roll a sustainable option, maintain your general Whole30 habits, but relax on the “no added sugar” rule when it comes to meat or condiments, and don’t worry about cooking oils used in restaurants.
Because everyone’s “special” is going to look different, we can’t create a schedule for you. Instead, here’s a sample journal to illustrate how it works.
Sample Reintroduction Journal, Slow Roll:
- Day 31: My Whole30 is done! I’m celebrating with some maple bacon, but not bringing anything else back just yet. This Tiger Blood feels too good!
- Day 35: My Mom baked an apple pie for dessert, but that’s not my favorite, and I didn’t really want it, so I passed. And it was easy!
- Day 42: Tonight’s my birthday, and I really want a glass of wine at dinner, but I may also want dessert. When I get to the restaurant, I’ll decide if I really want either.
- Day 43: Wine gives me a headache, but boy it was delicious.
- Day 47: Movie night at home, and I’m dying for a bowl of hot, buttered popcorn. I’m going for it! I’ve still got clarified butter left over, so we’ll see how corn goes.
- Day 48: Not bad! No noticeable effects, except eating a little popcorn made me want to eat a LOT of popcorn.
- Day 50: We’re in Mexico, and I’m dying for a fresh churro! Bring on the gluten.
- Day 51: Bad, bad, bad. My body does not like churros. At all. Gluten is not my friend, and I’ll be thinking long and hard about whether I eat it again.
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