By Judith Forman
Whole30 Certified Coach
It’s the part of the Whole30 process that often gets forgotten, rushed through, or abandoned in the middle. It can be frustrating, exhausting, and not all that much fun. But it’s a critical piece of the Whole30 puzzle – and it’s impossible to live your Food Freedom without it.
I’m talking about Reintroduction, the step that comes after you complete your Whole30.
Think of it this way: The Whole30 is a scientific experiment. For 30 days (or longer), you remove certain food groups (dairy, soy, grains, legumes, added sugar, alcohol, and certain additives) to give your body a chance to reset.
These foods aren’t “bad,” but they don’t meet at least one of the “Good Food Standards” outlined by Whole30. (Those standards are: Promote a healthy psychological response, promote a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation.) Instead, during the Whole30, you focus on eating protein, vegetables, healthy fat, and fruit.
But, after the 30 days, the REAL experimenting begins. You reintroduce the foods you’ve eliminated to see how they make you feel. And with this data, you craft your Food Freedom, which is how you live the rest of your life, empowered over food and knowing which foods are WORTH IT – and which ones are not. Read more on Food Freedom here.
You may not get exactly perfect information from reintroduction (your body may react differently to foods at different times based on quantity consumed, what else you are drinking and eating, activity level, stress, etc.) but it will give you a baseline idea of how YOUR body does with various foods.
There are two ways to manage your reintroduction: The Fast Track or the Slow Roll. Let’s dive into each!
According to the Whole30 website, the 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.”
To Fast Track, you slowly add back each food group – one at time – using your “neutral” Whole30 food as a control. For example, on Day 31, you could reintroduce legumes, adding a serving of each to your otherwise Whole30 meals. This is a great time to have some Whole30 options from Cooked on hand to make your reintroduction as easy as possible. You can check out the menu here!
With breakfast, you could add some peanut butter, with lunch some black beans, and with dinner, some hummus. As the day goes on, take notes on how you’re feeling and see if you have side effects (such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc.) that take away from your feeling of Whole30 awesomeness.
It may be hard to pinpoint exactly which foods are causing which consequence but do your best to get an idea. Then after the legume day, go back to eating Whole30 foods for the next two to three days. Then, when you’re ready, you can reintroduce your next food group following the same process until you’ve reintroduced all the food groups you’ve eliminated. (Note: You don’t have to reintroduce a food group if you don’t want/don’t plan to consume it much in the future!)
The goal of this exercise is to get a rough idea of how certain foods make you feel. You may end up doing additional reintroduction days to test certain foods individually instead of just reintroducing these broad food groups. However you proceed, don’t rush the process and don’t reintroduce multiple food groups at once. If you do that, you won’t get accurate data and won’t be able to make well thought out “worth it” decisions in your Food Freedom.
This is the harder and less scientific way to do reintroduction. When you Slow Roll, you don’t follow a certain timeline. Rather, you “slow roll” with reintroduction and include items that you find “worth it” as they come up in your life.
The Whole30 website says, “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.
You also may have trouble introducing just ONE thing at a time. If you decide a piece of your aunt’s homemade chocolate cake is worth it, you will likely be reintroducing sugar, gluten, and dairy at once. And if you feel terrible post-cake, you won’t know what caused it.
A way to do a modified Slow Roll is to ease into it. You can eat Whole30-ish (using meals from Cooked to keep your meal prep simple!) and relax a little around sugar, oils, and additives. Maybe you try a Whole30 meal with standard ketchup or have some bacon cured with maple. You can see how you feel with these small additions to give yourself a little more flexibility in your food choices (and eating out) and add back other “worth it” things as they cross your path.
Regardless of the path you choose, it is important to choose reintroduction!
For more on reintroduction, check out this great post by fellow Whole30 Certified Coach Bailey Fischer: Whole30 Reintroduction: How and Why You Should Do It
Want to learn even more about reintroduction? Check out the Facebook LIVE on our page titled "Whole30 Reintroduction!" hosted by Judith.
Judith Forman is a Whole30 Certified Coach. For more Whole30 inspiration, connect with her on Instagram @jujuswhole30 or check out her blog at www.everydaywhole.com