I can’t believe it. My 90 day elimination phase is actually over. The goal of elimination is to learn your base line for how your body should feel when it’s at it’s best. Before, I felt like my stomach being in knots or unpleasant bathroom visits were just a way of life. After my full stint on elimination I can now happily say that this is not the case. I continue to feel better everyday. Now I can start out on the next leg of my journey, reintroduction.
It can be very tempting once your elimination phase is up to stuff your face with anything and everything you can get your hands on. Stop! Please don’t! Don’t ruin all the hard work you’ve put in over the past few months. Remember all those nights you stared at pictures of cake online? Don’t let that be in vain! I feel like I say it every post, but remember, food sensitivities are hard to pin down and symptoms can present themselves up to four days after ingesting the culprit food. If you end elimination and go eat a piece of pizza and feel awful two days later, what doesn’t agree with you? Cheese? Tomatoes? Wheat? Yeast? Now there is no way to know for certain. By following certain guidelines during reintroduction we can help keep the results simple and straight forward.
New foods can be added once every four days as long as no symptoms appear between reintroductions. When symptoms DON’T appear, congratulations! It appears as though your body can now handle that food. Slowly start to add it back into your diet. Try to eat that food no more than once every four days. If you eat it too often your sensitivity could actually redevelop.
If symptoms do pop up in your four day window it’s best to wait for five symptom free days before you try another food. This ensures you won’t get hazy results from a left over reaction. What happens when symptoms DO appear? Unfortunately it’s best if that trigger food continues to stay out of your diet for another three months. After your second elimination phase you can try that food again to see if the reaction occurs once more, if it does, it might mean that the food will forever cause you trouble. It’s up to you to decide if you want to try and eliminate once more or if you’d like to remove the food from your diet completely.
What to try first
There are a few different approaches people take to come up with the order of their food list. If you took an IgG blood panel, like I did, you do have some structure already set out for you. The foods that triggered a higher response on your test need to be tried last to allow your body ample time to forget about their feud they’ve been having. After sorting them by immune response one approach is to go with whatever you are missing most. Another approach (and the one I recommend) is to order by what would give you the most theoretical ‘bang for your buck’. Try to consider what foods would result in the most variety of meals. Take my first reintroduction, I chose eggs. I’ve know for months now that I would try eggs first. Eggs allow for more types of breakfast (frittata, omelet), they help in baked goods (cakes, brownies, custards), and can be prepared many different ways (scrambled, fried, poached). This helps to trick my mind into thinking I have more options than I really do. Eggs are also very nutritious and delicious.
Another thing to remember is that certain foods may be better to try in a set order. Dairy products are a good example of this. Certain dairy products have less milk proteins than others. Milk proteins are usually what causes food reactions in individuals. It’s recommended that reintroduction should begin with ghee (least milk proteins), and then move to butter, heavy cream, yogurt, cheese, and finally fluid milk (most milk proteins). If you have a reaction somewhere along this chain it could be a warning sign that those items later in the chain will also cause you problems. By following this protocol it can help to keep you feeling your best and not set back your healing progress by triggering a large immune response that could have been avoided.
How to try it
Foods should be reintroduced in their purest form. If your testing milk by baking it into a cake it’s not quite as ‘pure’ as if you were to drink a glass by itself. For my egg test I simply hard boiled an egg and added a little salt. (Hard boiling will also easily allow you to test the less inflammatory yolk first and then the more inflammatory white on your next reintroduction day.) By trying foods in their purest form it will help to solidify your belief of how the particular food in question is effecting your body.
Consistently logging in your food journal throughout reintroduction will be and easy way to keep tabs on how you’re feeling. Try to keep really good symptom records for the next four days. Use how you felt at the end of elimination as a baseline for your best self. If you find symptoms are returning be sure to note it down.
By tracking the amount you ate as well you can also start to notice if personal threshold levels for a food exist. It could be that one egg triggers no response but two or three do. By logging how much of that particular food you tried it can help you see trends in your symptoms and correlations to not only what you’ve eaten but how much as well.
Keep on the lookout I’ll have a post coming about how to properly rotate your foods to keep your personal threshold levels in check.
This phase of the diet can definitely be tough. Many people assume it’s all excitement and while it is very fun to eat the foods you haven’t tasted in awhile it can also be very stressful. Symptoms can return and you can easily slip back into how you felt before elimination. If you get overwhelmed just remember you know what to do to make your body feel its best. If you feel like symptoms are slowly starting to spiral and you’re no longer in control, hit the pause button. Take a deep breath and go back onto your base elimination diet for a few weeks. Try to get your body back to that happy place. When you feel you are ready simply continue where you left off. Always listen to your body! It will tell you what it does and doesn’t like better than anything else.
Starting elimination or reintroduction? Have more tips for having an easy transition into the reintroduction phase? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for special goodies just for you!