Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just finished (or are about to finish) The Whole30 Program.
And if you’re like many of us who’ve completed this life-changing program, your mind is most likely racing … It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming of for weeks! And now that it’s finally here, you may find yourself feeling a bit nervous as you ponder the big post-Whole30 question … What should I reintroduce first?
But before we dive into how to properly reintroduce your most-missed morsels from the restricted foods list, it’s important to first do a little self-evaluation.
Taking some time to think through your Whole30 journey will go a long way in helping you to better appreciate the positives you’ve experienced, and better recognize if perhaps more time is needed before you launch into the reintroduction phase of the program.
Personally, I opted to do a Whole45 because as I evaluated my progress at the end of 30 days, I felt I needed more time to get past some of the unhealthy cravings I was still battling, and I felt I needed more time to detox and heal from a very unhealthy summer. I also wanted to better establish the self-control I had gained as a result of completing Whole30.
Of course for some people, 30-days may be all that’s needed, while for others, a Whole90 may be in order. Only you can determine the best course of action at the end of your 30-day journey.
But knowing what the best course of action won’t be clear, unless you take some time to evaluate your progress first.
How to Properly Reintroduce Restricted Foods
So back to the question we’ve all been pondering … What should I reintroduce first?
Of course, this is a question only you can answer. But I do have a few helpful suggestions …
1) Start by making a list of the restricted foods you miss most and want to include in your diet either regularly, or somewhat regularly.
2) Then, choose ONE of the foods from your list to reintroduce first. Be sure to keep the rest of your diet as Whole30 compliant as possible, except for this one restricted ingredient you’ve selected to reintroduce. Add this food to your diet and carefully evaluate its impact on your health, mood, cravings, sleep, etc. (See “Reintroduce Just One Food at a Time” below.)
Go S L O W !
I definitely encourage you to read through Whole30’s recommendations on how to successfully reintroduce restricted foods and check out their sample schedule – after all, they’re the experts who developed this amazing program.
I also can’t recommend enough Whole30’s advice to go slow! In fact, I personally prefer going even slower than the Whole30 folks recommend. Why? Just because our body doesn’t immediately react when a restricted food is reintroduced doesn’t mean it’s an automatic “green light” telling us we can safely enjoy that food regularly, or even occasionally.
That’s because some foods don’t cause an immediate reaction, but may take a longer period of time before we start to see how that food is negatively impacting our bodies. That’s why I prefer to reintroduce just one new food over a 5-7 day period of time, without introducing any other restricted foods during that week-long time span.
In other words, if the food I’m reintroducing into my diet doesn’t appear to be causing a negative reaction, I continue to eat it daily for up to one week. Then I remove the food and go back on a strict Whole30 diet for 2-3 days and carefully evaluate how the reintroduced food impacted my body both physically and mentally. This helps me to better decide whether or not I want to incorporate this food back into my regular diet, and if so, how much and how often?
Reintroduce Just One Food at a Time
On a similar note, it’s also my personal opinion that it’s best to reintroduce just one particular food from a food group at a time – not the entire food group all at the same time, and not a food that contains multiple restricted ingredients. Again, this is my personal opinion, based on my past experiences with allergy-specific elimination diets.
The reason is, just because one food in a food group causes a reaction, does not mean all foods in that food group will cause the same reaction, or will cause a reaction to the same extent.
Now, I know some will disagree with this recommendation, and that’s okay. Everyone is different and each person should decide for themselves how best to reintroduce suspect foods. I also know some might not like this approach, because it certainly does slow down the reintroduction phase.
Yet, it’s been my personal experience that the best way to truly know what the real impact is of each particular food I reintroduce into my diet is to go slow and reintroduce just one food at a time. Otherwise, if you introduce more than one restricted ingredient and get a reaction, you won’t know which to blame. For example, if introducing rice, don’t add butter to the rice, because that would be introducing two restricted foods at the same time.
Understanding which foods cause our bodies to react negatively will help us to clearly decide whether the negative consequences of the reintroduced food far exceed the pleasure of eating it, or whether we have some wiggle room to enjoy certain restricted foods from time to time without having to “pay the piper” so to speak.
The bottom line – the reason it’s best to only reintroduce one food at a time is because if you reintroduce more than one new food at the same time and get a reaction, you won’t know which food is to blame.
What if there are foods I don’t want to include back into my diet? Simple – don’t reintroduce those foods. For example, if you’re not missing beans, then don’t reintroduce them. Instead, fill your plate with other healthier Whole30 vegetables and fruits that you enjoy.
New from Whole30: Create Your Own Custom “Life After Whole30” Meal Plans!
Exciting news! … Of course you always have access to my free GF meal plans here and over at The Better Mom blog. But now, our friends at Whole30 have teamed up with Real Plans to offer you the option of totally customizable “Life After Whole30” meal plans to help you slowly reintroduce restricted foods back into your diet. This unique meal planning system allows you to create custom menus based on your unique tastes, preferences and schedule. How cool is that? [Click here to learn more about this brand new customizable Whole30 meal planning resource.]
Determining “Your Life After Whole30” Strategy
Figuring out which foods to reintroduce back into your diet and how often to do so isn’t the end-all of a successful Whole30 program.
Instead, taking time to think through what we’ve learned while on Whole30 and then using that knowledge to formulate an action plan for moving forward are truly the most important things we can do to ensure that the healthy changes we’ve made the past 30+ days become a solid foundation that we can continue to build upon.
If you’re like me, and so many others who’ve completed Whole30, you’re probably most amazed by the sense of freedom that comes from gaining better self-control as we learned to kick our cravings to the curb and replace them with healthier eating habits. I believe this is truly one of the most empowering aspects of The Whole30 Program and is one that should really give us confidence that we can continue to make positive changes that impact our health (and our family’s) for the better.
That’s why I appreciate the practical wisdom of the Whole30 team in encouraging us to really think through our personal life after Whole30 strategy. Each of us have our own reasons for taking the Whole30 Challenge, and these reasons – as well as the personal healthy living goals we set – will greatly influence our commitment to remaining on the path to better health and well-being.
Continuing Our Healthy Living Journey Together!
Of course, you know there are plenty of free resources here at The Nourishing Home to help encourage you and support you with your healthy living goals. But I also wanted to remind you that I provide free monthly meal plans over at The Better Mom blog. Each week’s meal plan contains delicious family-friendly GF recipes utilizing a time-saving method to make getting a healthy dinner on the table a snap! I highly recommend you pop over to The Better Mom and download these free meal plans.
Now it’s time to share your story …
What positive changes have you seen as a result of taking the Whole30 challenge? And what is your action plan for reintroducing your favorite restricted foods back into your diet and in moving forward with your healthy living goals?
You’ll find my personal story and action plan in the first comment below.
I look forward to hearing your story!