Have you completed your Whole30 challenge? Congratulations! What an incredible experience it can be, right? If you survived 30 days of a Whole30 Challenge, you can do anything!
Now that you’re finished with your thirty days of the Whole30 Challenge, you may be wondering what’s next? I can tell you from my first experience, going back to eating the way you did before isn’t the answer <ahem>. But if you want to take full advantage of having experienced an elimination diet and believe you are ready to start reintroducing foods that you enjoy, keep reading. In this article, we’ll be sharing a guide for reintroducing foods after a Whole30 Challenge in a simple and healthy way!
Note: If you are like me and believe you have a really unhealthy gut (ie: you’re suffering symptoms of autoimmune disease, joint and/or muscle pain, or general inflammation), you may want to continue eating the Whole30 way for another 30 days or longer. I have personally found that 90 days worked best for me. After 90 days, I felt that my symptoms were under control enough that I could begin slowly (and successfully) adding in some foods that I had not suspected were contributing to my symptoms.
How to Reintroduce Foods after a Whole30 Diet
How to reintroduce foods into your diet
It’s important to start reintroducing foods back into your diet one food group at a time. After all, you’ve just eliminated several groups to get to the bottom of what makes your body respond a certain way. When reintroducing foods, if you reintroduce them one group at a time, you can pinpoint what foods affect you negatively. You can do this by reintroducing different food groups on different days. This is a pretty crucial step in the Whole30 process, so don’t rush to add all of these foods to your diet again at once if you want to find out how your body responds to them individually.
Don’t rush it
The Whole30 creators suggest taking your time reintroducing potentially problematic foods into your diet. This way, you can really take time and evaluate how these ingredients and foods affect your body and the way you feel. They recommend taking 3 days between each new food group introduction so you’re able to take time and assess afterward before introducing another. If you start reintroducing foods too fast, it can be difficult to truly pinpoint what is causing any issues you may be experiencing.
Don’t skip it
If you’re feeling good, that’s a great sign that you’ve had a successful Whole30 experience. Congratulations! However, Melissa Hartwig (co-creator of the Whole30 diet) encourages you to go through a reintroduction period regardless. Even if you plan to continue doing Whole30 or want to attempt another round, reintroducing foods is an important part in the learning process. If you don’t reintroduce potentially problematic foods, you won’t be able to pinpoint those problem foods that are affecting your health
Note: The creators of Whole30 don’t encourage doing Whole30 forever. Read here to see why and what they DO recommend as far as continuing Whole30.
Follow a reintroduction plan.
If you’re completing a Whole30 for the first time, it can be helpful to have your reintroduction plan laid out for you. This is your best bet for a successful period of reintroduction. You can find information about reintroduction protocols in It Starts With Food as well as the general outline and guidelines on the Whole30 site. Another great resource is The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom so definitely pick that up if you feel like you need the extra support through this journey.
Do it at your own pace.
This is such an important piece of your journey. Doing things at your own pace can help you not only achieve success in the days and weeks following your 30-day journey but also in the long term as well. If you don’t feel like you want to reintroduce foods immediately after 30 days, wait as long as you need to until you feel ready. Want to start reintroducing foods on a much slower basis? Go for it! You can introduce one new food group a week, or even a month. It is all completely up to you and dependent upon your personal goals for your Whole30.
Was your main goal to lose weight? Consider reintroducing foods that are still healthy, but allow you to splurge here and there. For me, this included raw honey and maple syrup (my tea really missed its honey!) Don’t over-do it on sugar immediately and stay on a path of exercising willpower over junk foods though.
Was your main goal to learn how food affects your body? Consider a slower reintroduction phase to give yourself adequate time to assess how each food is making your body feel.
Is there a food you really miss, add it first. For me, I missed cheeses such as bleu and feta, as well as homemade yogurt. So I attempted to add these foods early on.
The end goal is to feel better, live a healthier life, and understand your body better. At the end of the day, you make the choices that you feel are best for your own body, and pace is equally as important when making those choices.
If you’ve started reintroducing foods already, what have you learned about how each food group affects your body? If not, what are you most looking forward to reintroducing? Share in the comments!
Visit the landing page for the entire 6-article series, A Simple Guide to the Whole30 Diet.