So I finished my Whole30, now what? I decided once my Whole30 was over, it was time to take the next step: Whole30 reintroduction. After Whole30 what I actually wanted to do was dive into a pool of wine while eating pizza and donuts. I knew that not only would this undo all the work I put into my Whole30, it would be a waste of the 30 days I spent removing these foods in order to give me the opportunity to experiment. How would I know if it was the sugar, gluten or the alcohol that made me feel like crap if I didn't control the variables? Enter the Whole30 reintroduction phase.
Why the Whole30 Reintroduction is Important
One of the major things I wanted to gain by doing this Whole30 was to learn how certain foods affect me. If I skipped the reintroduction phase or didn’t follow it properly, I would be missing a huge piece of the puzzle. This would tell me exactly which foods were causing me issues as well as what I would deem "worth it" to consume.
I did the 10-day reintroduction plan outlined in the Whole30 Day by Day book. You introduce a previously omitted food group every few days and in between you go back to eating Whole30. The food you introduce should be otherwise compliant. For example, on dairy day you don't want to run out and have pizza because you would also be having gluten from the crust and potentially sugar in the sauce. So I tried to find foods that were Whole30 compliant in all other areas besides the one being introduced.
This will bring you back to the status quo you created over the 30 days and allow you to get a sense of how the foods you reintroduced made you feel. There are people who have done several Whole30 rounds and don't feel the need to do reintroduction anymore but for me it was a vital component since this was my very first round.
Read more about my Whole30 experience on these posts:
Whole30 Reintroduction - Day 1
Food Group: Legumes
Foods Introduced: Chickpea pasta, Peanut Butter & Black Beans
According to the plan outlined in the book, legumes were the first thing to be introduced. I made an effort to incorporate some form of legumes in my meals and snacks throughout the day. The first thing I tried was some chickpea pasta for lunch (Banza Pasta is my favorite for this!) I had lunch and waited. Besides feeling more full than usual after lunch, I didn't feel much else. So far so good.
Then I had some peanut butter on my apple. I am a peanut butter fanatic so I was excited about this one. I eagerly opened my packet of Peanut Butter and waited for that delicious flavor as I bit into the apple. It never came. Turns out I much prefer the taste of cashew butter over peanut butter. Who knew? I mean I still enjoy peanut butter (I can go HAM on some peanut butter cups) but for my day to day, I think cashew butter will be my go-to. Later that night I added some black beans to my otherwise Whole30 compliant dinner.
I didn’t notice anything super crazy that night besides some bloating. The bloating got worse the next morning. I was gassy, bloated and just felt a little…off. I struggled to put my wedding ring on in the morning. Another side effect I was surprised by? I felt a little congested and had to keep blowing my nose. It was nothing major and I almost didn’t even notice it much until the second day when the lightbulb went off like, “Oh yeah! Maybe it’s the legumes?”
To be honest, I didn’t really miss legumes during the Whole30. I think the only legumes I ate from time to time prior to Whole30 were hummus and the chickpea pasta. I will prob stay away from most legumes unless there is something I really really want. The hummus and chickpea pasta will be my legumes of choice when I decide it's worth it.
Days 2-3: Back to Whole30
Whole30 Reintroduction - Day 4
Food Group: Gluten-Free Grains
Foods Introduced: Popcorn, Tortilla Chips & Brown Rice
I was excited for gluten-free grain day. One of the things I had missed the most throughout the month was brown rice. It sounds like a weird thing to miss but I LOVE brown rice so I was so ready to add it back in for dinner. Prior to dinner I tried a small snack bag of popcorn from Skinny Pop. I didn't feel any symptoms from this alone. So I was encouraged. During dinner (which I ate earlier than normal) I had my brown rice and oh my goodness it was glorious! I crossed my fingers that I wouldn't see any differences because I really wanted to keep brown rice in my diet. Fast forward a few hours and still feeling ok. Hallelujah!
Later I had tortilla chips with guacamole. Tortilla chips are definitely my “food with no brakes”. I have zero self-control when it comes to chips. My husband and I finished off the whole bag, mainly because we were “allowed” to eat it which was pretty careless on my part. The chips didn’t taste as good as I remembered, which was disappointing. I realized it would be hard to tell if any symptoms I felt later were due to the grains in general or the fact that I had eaten too much of it.
I felt totally fine those few hours after the brown rice but the chips threw me over the edge. I felt sluggish, had a slight headache and the bloat was pretty significant that night and the next day. This tells me that I can probably get away with some brown rice from time to time but I need to be mindful of my portions with grains. Also, maybe throwing back a full bag of tortilla chips probably isn’t the best idea? Just a thought.
Days 5-6: Back to Whole30
Whole30 Reintroduction - Day 7
Food Group: Dairy
Foods Introduced: Half & Half, Cheese & Yogurt
Going into reintroduction, I felt similar about dairy as I did about legumes. I didn’t really miss anything in this category. I didn’t eat a ton of dairy to begin with. I had the occasional yogurt and cheese but that’s about it. I prefer the taste of nutpods in my coffee over half and half so giving that up was no big deal for me. Other non dairy creamers I used usually contained some kind of sweetener even if it was a natural sweetener so those were out too. Nutpods to the rescue! I do have an affiliate coupon code if you're looking to try them out! Enter "BEAUTYANDTHEBENCHPRESS" on the nutpods website!
Other things I added included a string cheese and yogurt as a snack. I realized I kinda messed up with the yogurt though. Like I mentioned in the beginning, you’re supposed to introduce things that only have that specific non-compliant food group but my Siggi’s yogurt had agave nectar in it because I grabbed the vanilla flavor instead of the plain. I didn’t even think about it until I had already eaten it but obviously by then it was too late. What was done was done. I was happy to note that the agave nectar in the yogurt didn't have me craving more sugary foods. So that was a little observation. Later that night for dinner, I had a little more cheese with dinner.
I think this was the food group where I felt the least adverse effects. I was actually kind of surprised because I thought for sure I would have issues with dairy. I had some bloating but very subtle and I was maybe a bit more tired than usual but it was hardly noticeable if I hadn’t been looking for it. I think dairy is something I may be able to include in my diet in small doses. For me, that means some yogurt every now and then and some feta or goat cheese on my salads. Other than that, there isn't any other dairy product I feel I need/want to add back into my diet.
Days 8-9: Back to Whole30
Whole30 Reintroduction - Day 10
Food Group: Gluten
Foods Introduced: Bagel...and then a burrito?
OMG. Guys, this bagel was delicious. I didn't eat many bread-like products prior to Whole30 because when I was counting macros, I preferred to save my carbs for other things (like wine). So this was a total treat for me. However, 45 minutes later I had a pounding headache and I wanted to take a nap. At 9:00 AM. That lasted maybe about an hour and then I was ok for the rest of the day. The bagel was the only gluten I reintroduced that day. I'm not really sure why. I just didn't really want anything else. So I wasn't super affected by gluten on this specific day since my symptoms were so short-lived. Or so I thought.
The next day our reintroduction process was over and my husband and I decided to take a trip up to Orange County. We stopped at a little coffee place where everyone was ordering these delicious looking burritos. Flour tortilla, 2 types of cheese, bacon, avocado and tater tots. TATER TOTS. I mean, we kinda HAD to get one. We decided to split it to be safe. I was feeling confident since I had only minor effects from most foods so far. No big deal right? WRONG.
The mixture of all those things together did a number on me. My stomach hurt, I was bloated, cramping and all the sudden, utterly exhausted. My husband felt the same way. We took a 10 minute nap in the car before going back home because we could barely keep our eyes open. I was also pretty moody for the next few hours. That night, my cravings were out of control. I wanted chocolate. I wanted Mac and cheese. And so I ate it. I told myself I already felt like crap so I might as well. SUCH a bad decision. The weird mood and cramping took the next 2 days to go away. There was no use even trying to wear my wedding ring during that time either. I probably would have lost a finger. Lesson definitely learned.
The point of doing this Whole30 reintroduction was to help me figure out what effect (if any) certain foods had on me. I think most of the issues I felt after eating these foods in isolation were not too bad but my biggest observation was I was not feeling OPTIMAL. It was harder to wake up in the mornings. I was a little more tired during my day and my 2 PM energy slump was back.
I felt GREAT during my Whole30. I didn't actually realize how great I felt until the other symptoms came rolling in. The headaches, the bloating, the lethargy and the stuffy nose were for the most part pretty subtle. If I wanted to, I could probably live with it. But I guess the question is, why would I WANT to? If I don’t have to feel that way all the time and I know certain foods are making me feel that way, why consume them on a regular basis?
This is how I plan on going about my own Food Freedom. I guarantee I will crave pizza and donuts and chips and sugar in my lifetime. And if I really want it, and I think the consequences are worth it to me, then I will eat it. Simple as that. And after eating what I did this past weekend and then feeling like crap, I was able to decipher that there is no way those specific foods were worth it for me at that time. I think I will have to spend more time and more experimentation trying things out to see what is truly worth it or not for me personally. And that's ok. That 's how I will figure out what my Food Freedom is. For now, I am headed back into a week of Whole30 eating to get myself feeling good again!
What did you learn from your own reintroduction phase?
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