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!
I wanted to take a minute to share with you how helpful The Whole30 Program (or in my case The Whole45 Program) has been for me personally. If you read my first post, then you know how I was struggling this past summer with recurrences of pain due to my chronic autoimmune disorders, as well as extreme fatigue and a moody disposition.
The good news is, I’ve experienced a significant decrease in pain since starting Whole30 – praise God – and in fact have had virtually no pain since week 4 of the program. In addition, I’ve experienced a much-needed increase in my energy levels, and my family is especially thankful for my cheerful mood!
Because I started The Whole30 Program two weeks prior to announcing it on the blog, I’ve already started the reintroduction phase. I started first by reintroducing grain-free baked goods back into my diet, making sure that the ingredients in the baked goods are all Whole30 compliant.
The great news is, I’ve experienced absolutely no negative consequences since reintroducing grain-free baked goods, and in fact have had nothing but positive results, such as more joy in eating and virtually no sweet cravings. So I plan to continue enjoying grain-free baked goods in moderation, because sometimes a grain-free girl’s gotta have a sandwich made with yummy grain-free bread. 🙂
I’ve also reintroduced butter. But, the jury is still out on this one, since I just started the reintroduction this week. I didn’t notice any negative results on day one, but now that I’ve had butter for three days in a row, I’ve noticed some sinus-related issues. So we’ll see?
Now it’s time for you to share your story … I can’t wait to hear how Whole30 has impacted your life and which foods you plan to reintroduce first? Of course, I also hope you’ll report back on how you’re doing with your reintroduction foods.
Thank you so much, friends! 🙂
So do you use sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or stevia in your baked goods too?
Hi, Missy. The first week, I did not include sweeteners in my grain-free baked goods and only reintroduced pancakes on day one made with blueberries and no sweeteners. One days two through four I had two slices of grain-free bread without sweeteners and on day five I had a grain-free biscuit without sweetener. I omitted the sweeteners in the recipes so I could see if there was any kind of reaction (which I didn’t suspect. since all ingredients are whole30). However, I wanted to be sure if I did have a reaction that it was related to the baked goods themselves and not the sweetener. I was concerned that reintroducing baked goods might create a craving issue, but it has not. In fact, it has further helped to curb cravings. 🙂
ok, im not getting how using only foods youve been eating already for 30 days with no reaction is reintroducing?
i dont get how making pancakes from a mashed banana and 2 eggs cooked in ghee or coconut oil is not ok either, but if you eat a banana and have 2 eggs cooked in ghee or coconut oil with it, it’s ok?
i done whole30-type eating for several months in fact, with no real results, stalled wgt loss even within a few months. when i reintro’d things also, i had no reactions, not surprising as i was having none to begin with. i was dong it purely for wgt loss. i am very heavy too, im not just being vain and weigh 140 to start with lol
trying to see some of the rationale behind some of the rules 🙂
so glad YOU are having success with eating very strictly. im pretty sure there is nothing that will help me now and im eating pretty much what i want since not having it did NOTHING & was EXTREMELY expensive and time consuming/stressful. of course not eating junk and still eating my green smoothies is part of health but for wgt loss? nothing works for me.
The reintroduction phase is about keeping your diet the same and only re-introducing one restricted food at a time so you can monitor your body’s reaction to it. If you introduced two restricted foods at the same time, you won’t know which is to blame if you have a reaction. As far as your other questions/comments, I’d recommend reading the book It Starts with Food or going to the website to read their content and forums. They explain thoroughly the rationale, most of which is tied to our psychological response to food, thus the no baked goods during the 30-day program. But again, this is only a beginning, to help people clean-up their diets and better understand their bodies and their minds – as much of what we eat and why is tied up in our psychological associations with food. It’s also why Whole30 does not encourage looking at the scale, because again, it gets people tied up in this goal of losing weight, rather than regaining health and helping their bodies to heal. I really recommend reading the book, as it explains this all in much detail. I am not pushing this program, as everyone needs to do their own research and find their own way, as God leads them, I’ve just personally found this program to be a great place to start. 🙂
Thank you Kelly for this whole30. I had much success with my first whole 30 last summer but got off track since then. Today is day 30 for me and I have lost 15 lbs.! I plan on following a Paleo diet and I still have more weight to lose, but know that eating whole, real foods is the way. I miss having honey in my homemade coffee creamer (coconut milk from a can, pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice or just coconut milk, vanilla and cinnamon) so that is what I plan on having tomorrow. I also love to bake and can use honey or maple syrup for a sweetener in some almond meal recipes I love. I will try to limit those to treats though 🙂
Hi, Theresa! Thank you so much for sharing your Whole30 success. Congrats on losing weight – and even better – it sounds like you’re feeling good and have gotten back on track with your healthy eating goals. Yay! Like you, I love to bake, so I agree that has been fun to get back to. I appreciate you taking the time to share with us! Many blessings, Kelly 🙂
Keep us updated! I am very interested in elimination diets. I would love to hear how you know if something is affecting you in a good way or bad way.
I pinned this to my Healing Diets board!
Thank you so much for sharing, Kristie! 🙂
Hi, Kristie. When you reintroduce foods after being on an elimination diet, a reaction could be anything from digestive issues such as bloating, gas, bowel changes or pain; to all kinds of other issues such as rashes, sinus issues like stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, etc. That’s why it’s so important to go slow and reintroduce one food at a time so you can see if your body has a reaction or not. I hope this helps better explain. 🙂
Aishah M says
I am so grateful for the opportunity to do the Whole30 program. It has been such an eye-opener about the effects food can have on your body. After 30 days, my body feels better than it ever has. My joints aren’t aching all the time, my icky digestive issues have cleared up, my skin looks so much healthier and the weight loss has been a real bonus. When I started the Whole30, I couldn’t walk more than 10 minutes or so on the treadmill. Now I’m taking 7 mile walks and doing aerobic daily. Due to my cheating late in the program, I now know that wheat is a trigger for me, so I don’t need to do the re-introduction to figure that out. As for the rest, re-introduction will have to wait. My doctor is so happy with the results I’ve had in such a short time that he asked me to continue on for a while. So Whole 180 here we come! Thanks, Kelly, for the meal plans, the support, and the encouragement to keep going. I’m so grateful that you put so much effort into helping others get healthy.
You are so welcome, Aishah! You have been such a blessing to me personally and to so many over at The Nourishing Home Community on Facebook. So thank you for cheering us on and offering such kind encouragement. I’m SO excited to hear how much better you’re feeling and that you are planning to continue on with Whole30 for a few more months. I’m sure this will lead to even more health improvements and better establish your healthy eating pattern so that when you do end your Whole30, it will continue to the basis of your diet. Please stay connected! I would most certainly miss you if you weren’t here with us! 🙂
I am so thankful to God for the timing of this Whole30 group! The wonderful meal plans by Kelly and the sweet encouragements along the way of this group have helped me so much! I have lost a good eight pounds and my clothes fit so much better. I also am feeling more in control of what I eat instead of letting the temptation of food control me! I have a very busy household and still had to cook lots of non-Whole 30 approved foods (bread/pasta, desserts, etc.) in order to feed everyone, but I DIDN’T HAVE TO EAT IT!! That was such a freeing thought. Having greater self-control in this one area of my life has spilled over to other areas as well and I’ve felt more productive over all because of it! I’ve learned to be satisfied with less and that hasn’t hurt me one bit. I’ve also come away with some yummy new recipes that we all love. I now actually prefer coconut milk in my coffee instead of dairy half & half. 🙂
Karen, thank you SO much for taking the time to share your experience with us. I am SO happy to hear how much Whole30 has helped you. And I couldn’t agree more – the self-control that comes from completing this program is SO FREEING as you said. I appreciate your kind words and know they will serve as encouragement to others who are considering taking the Whole30 challenge. 🙂 Many blessings, Kelly
If I take the slow approach in reintroducing food (1 food per 5 days), should I reintroduce on day 1, then wait a couple of days and eat the same food on days 4 and 5? Or should I just eat the same food for 5 days straight?
Thanks for your help! Today is my last day of the while30. Yay!!!!!
Hi, Aisha. Most elimination diets have you eat 1 food for a few days in a row and monitor how you feel. If you don’t seem to be having any reactions after 4-5 days, then you can reintroduce another new food. For example, if you wanted to see what if any dairy you can add back, you could start with whatever item it is in the that food group you want most, such as yogurt. Try yogurt once a day for a few days and monitor your reaction. If after 4-5 days you are doing fine, you may want to try another item and continue. If you notice a reaction, remove the suspect food for a few days and see if you feel better. It’s important to note that some foods may be a problem only after you’ve had them several days in a row. In those cases, you may decide to completely eliminate them or at least know that if you do eat them they will begin to bother you. Sometimes you’ll notice an almost immediate reaction such as bloating, gas or other uncomfortable systems and sometime you won’t notice it for a few days. That’s why taking it one food at a time is helpful. 🙂
P.S. Congrats on completing the Whole30! That is AWESOME! 🙂