Here we go for another round of a Reader Request.
This next question comes from one of my nutrition coaching clients, and she had a very good question regarding re-introducing foods back into the diet.
If you read the last post about my approach to nutrition coaching, or if you have worked with me in the past or are currently working with me now, you know that one of the pillars to my coaching program is to remove the foods that cause inflammation and negative symptoms from the diet, and to slowly re-introduce them back in.
Since Katie and I have been working together, she asked what it’s going to be like to bring back in certain foods, specifically gluten and dairy.
I would love to have you comment on how to reintroduce things into your diet after removing them for 2 months and not have it effect you… 😉 Theory behind it too would be interesting.
This is a great question, and I wanted to answer this question in a public forum as to give you a better sense of where my thought process is with this topic.
The first thing to understand about re-introducing foods back in is to understand why I recommend to take them out in the first place.
The reason why I recommend to remove the most common food sensitivities (in my experience those are gluten, dairy, refined sugars and grains) is to “wipe the slate clean” so to speak.
By eliminating the foods that in my opinion, cause the most damage, you not only allow your body time to heal but you are taking the first step in to the investigation of your own health.
If you’re eating a bunch of different foods, there really is no way to pinpoint with precision, which foods are adversly affecting you.
By reducing the variety of food you eat, and slowly re-introducing them, you can get a more accurate view of what’s going to work for you.
The question, though, was how to re-introduce the foods.
And to help Katie, here is what I would do:
1. Get to a point in your body where you feel awesome.
This will be your baseline to determine how food is going to affect you.
In my initial phases of coaching, I work with clients for 8 weeks. During this time, if the client adheres to the protocol, he or she will feel significantly better than when we originally started.
Energy levels will improve, cravings will subside, sleep will get better, and some weight would have been lost.
It’s important that before we start to re-introduce foods into the diet, that we get to a point where the client feels a marked and significant improvement in their symptoms.
Getting to a point of feeling good is imperative because then it gives us something to compare to when re-introducing foods back in.
2. Pick 1 food at a time to re-introduce.
I would start by eating 1 serving of this food for 3 consecutive days, and then go off the food right away.
However, if after the first day of re-introduction, you are starting to feel negative side-effects (bloating, gas, constipation, headaches, cravings, etc) this could be a clear indicator that this particular food does not respond well.
I recommend to try the food for 3 consecutive days, just in case there was some sort of fluke that could have caused similar reactions, like stress, lack of sleep, or hormonal changes.
3. Track EVERYTHING.
During the 3 days of re-introducing the food, track everything from energy levels, sleep, pooping habits, cravings, digestive symptoms, skin reactions, everything.
The only way to figure out how you respond to a certain food is to pay close attention to your reactions.
If after 3 days of eating the food you feel no difference or even see an improvement, this is a possible sign that this particular food has a positive effect on your body.
4. Give yourself a good 7-10 days before you re-introduce another food.
In my experience, I find that waiting a week between each new food is a good way to get myself back to baseline. During this time, you still want to record your symptoms, if any.
I have found that some reactions to foods can be delayed, and may take several days for the symptoms to subside.
By waiting at least a week to recover, you get yourself back to baseline so that you can test a new food.
5. Keep experimenting.
The only way to really figure out what’s going to work best for you (whether that’s food, exercise, lifestyle, dating, or even sex), is to experiment.
And from personal experience in all of the above, I can attest to say that I’ve found what works and what doesn’t work for me through a process of elimination.
As your coach, I can help you figure out what foods are going to work, but in the end, it is all going to come down to how it makes you feel.
Over the years of my own self-experimentation, I have found that I do much better on a diet higher in fat, protein, root vegetables, and tropical fruits with little to no sugar and grains.
Your unique diet may be similar or vastly different. Our job is to figure out what that is for you.
6. Make a decision.
If after re-introducing foods into your diet you are starting to feel your original symptoms arise, or you just start to feel crummy again, you have to ask yourself one very important question:
Is it worth it?
You have a choice: Eat the foods that don’t work well with you and feel crappy and get bloated or don’t eat them, feel awesome, and look better.
It’s your choice.
I’m not going to say you can never have those foods again, just understand that they may not be the best choice for you, and that you may suffer a little.
If having a flatter stomach and not farting every day is important to you (like it is for me) than you’ll do whatever it takes to avoid the foods that cause unwanted symptoms.
This process is part of a much larger picture I consider to be the “investigation of your health”.
The only way to figure out what is going to work for you, is to try new things out.
However, after all is said and done, I can say, from my experience, that most people do better when food sensitivities are completely removed from the diet.
Not easy to do, but if you are committed to having the best body you could possibly have, then it’s a no brainer.
So, I’ll leave this post off by asking you a question: Are there any foods you have found that work really great, or not, for you?
If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.