I'm done with the elimination, now how do I introduce foods back in?
So you are done with your 21 or 28 days of elimination! You are likely feeling better than you did 4 weeks ago and you don't want to rush in and add everything back and basically undue all your hard work!! Many say that the first half of a marathon is 20 miles and the second half is 6.2 miles. Same is true with the elimination diet! You are not done at this point, think of it as half way done and now the reintroduction starts!
The Basic Plan
The basic plan is to introduce one food at a time eating a generous amount on that day and then wait 24 hours and watch for symptoms. You can then reintroduce a another food the following day. So usually you will introduce a food on day 1, watch day 2, introduce a different food on day 3, watch day 4 etc
Which foods should I introduce first?
Start with the foods you craved the most or ones you ate the most often. In general the order is not important although I would put gluten/wheat last because the gluten antibodies can take the longest to clear.
How much should I eat?
Eat 2-3 average portion sizes throughout the day (not all at the same time).
What symptoms should I watch for?
Possible reactions may be gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas or bloating. You may experience muscle or joint pains, fatigue, mood changes such as depression or anxiety. You may see skin issues such as a breakout or rash. You may also have sinus congestion, runny nose or itching.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
Immediately take that food out of your diet again. Keep it out for the next 3-6 months. During this time your practitioner may give you supplements or certain diet plans to follow in order to allow your gut to heal. After this time you may try to add the food back in again in the same way. If you have symptoms again this may not be a great lifelong choice for you. Do not reintroduce another food until your symptoms resolve.
Pearls about adding foods:
-Introduce dairy separately. For example some people have no trouble with butter yet have an issue with milk. Also, if you drink many different types of milk then introduce cow separate from goat separate from sheep (no I have never tried sheep's milk...please let me know if you have and if it is delicious!).
-Same with wheat, introduce separately. You may want to introduce sprouted wheat separate from spelt separated from sourdough wheat. You will want to test wheat separate from other gluten containing grains such as rye or barley as some people will react to wheat only.
-Beware of complex foods. For example pizza has wheat and dairy. Pizza is my downfall, if I had my way I would have tested pizza with an entire large on day 22 of the elimination diet. Also chocolate has sugars and cocoa. I know I know these are the good ones!! Mocha drinks have caffeine and chocolate and maybe dairy! So just think ahead.