Reintroduction: what is it? why is it important?

The most frequently asked question I receive as a Whole30 coach is around the importance of Reintroduction in the Whole30 process.  I cannot stress enough how important reintroduction is.  You are literally missing out on all the benefits of Whole30 and food freedom if you choose to ignore this part of the Whole30 journey.

Think of reintroduction like your testing phase--removing (some) of the training wheels of Whole30 and slowly introducing foods systematically into your diet and lifestyle to understand how you react to those foods personally.  Nobody can tell you what this phase will bring--you may realize that certain foods absolutely do not work for you, while others may.  Of course, there are some commonly problematic foods that many people have an issue with, but until you test it for yourself, you will never know.

There are a few options when it comes to reintroduction--you can “fast track” it, or “slow roll” it.  I would highly recommend taking the slow roll route if you are not feeling totally confident and ready to jump into living your food freedom right away.  If you feel like you are coming off some serious food addiction, sugar addiction, unhealthy relationship with food and some not-so-good habits, the slow roll may serve you better.  It might also be important to extend your Whole30 for 10 days, 15 days, another 30, etc. if you feel like you’re not quite ready for reintroduction. However, it is important to note that you cannot live a Whole365--at some point, you are going to need to take off the training wheels.  It is probably better to do that in a systematic way rather than diving straight into a bag of chips and cookies on Day 31.  

The whole point of reintroduction is to help you understand how you will live your post Whole30 life.  If you “reintroduce” ten foods on Day 31 and have a negative reaction, you are not going to really understand what it was that caused that reaction: was it the dairy?  Gluten?  Sugar? Legumes? Combination of all?  

You get my point.  So in order to truly understand how your body reacts, you must reintroduce intentionally and take good notes.  Get yourself a handy dandy journal, keep a note in your phone, or even better--pick up a copy of Whole30 Day by Day which is literally a personalized journal and companion for your Whole30, written by Melissa Hartwig herself with notes of encouragement and hacks for your Whole30 journey.  Whatever you do, make sure you take notes! Don’t convince yourself that you will be able to remember every detail of your journey if you don’t keep good notes.

When I reintroduced foods, I reaffirmed what I (sort of) already knew about my body.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion prior to Whole30 that gluten and dairy didn’t do well with me.  During my reintroduction, I realized that gluten made me tired and made my skin itch (almost instantly), and dairy caused breakouts and my stomach to rumble.  It was pretty easy to decide that I would definitely be limiting the consumption of dairy and gluten in my life post Whole30.  However, what was new information for me was my reaction to legumes.  Legumes definitely made me feel lethargic and caused an unhappy gut to say the least.  This was new information for me that was gleaned during reintroduction.  If I had not taken the time to carefully reintroduce, there would have been no way that I would have known that.

To really do reintroduction well, you need to have a plan and stick to it.  Just like your actual Whole30.  To read more about how to plan and prepare, check out this awesome resource on the Whole30 site.

Reintroduction is a commonly overlooked piece in the Whole30 journey.  Do yourself a favor and don’t skip it.  

Want help through your Whole30?  Have questions?  Contact me to learn more.