Food intolerances can contribute to inflammation and disease in the body, and also tend to cause digestive upset, dysfunction, and distress. Embarking on any type of elimination diet is an eye opening way to track how your body is reacting to certain foods. The 21-Day Program eliminates the most common allergens, such as dairy, gluten, corn, soy, eggs, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Let’s talk more about the food reintroduction process following an elimination diet.
Certain foods, like eggs or soy, may be tolerated well by some, but less so by others. Other foods like refined sugar, industrialized oils (trans fats and hydrogenated oils), and alcohol have an inflammatory effect in the body in general, and are best avoided or significantly limited. Elimination diets are a great, inexpensive way to identify foods you may be intolerant or sensitive to without pricey allergen tests. In order to identify your food sensitivities, potential allergens are eliminated, and then reintroduced one by one as you record your reactions to each reintroduced food.
Eliminating potentially problematic foods for the duration of your cleanse allows your immune system time to quiet down, while digestive tissues and gut microflora begin to heal and rebalance. It’s amazing how much better we can feel once we ditch the foods we’re sensitive to. To determine which foods work best for you, and which don’t, reintroduce foods one at a time at the conclusion of your cleanse.
Reintroducing Foods One By One
You’ve done an amazing job committing to the 21-Day Cleanse, and you’re most likely feeling great. The next step is to slowly test potentially problematic foods so you can suss out which foods work for you, and identify those that don’t. Once you’ve reintroduced one of the common allergen foods for testing (one at a time), you’re looking to observe the following symptoms:
- Bloating and/or digestive upset
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Racing heartbeat
- Hot flashes
- Brain fog
- Any suddenly occurring symptom like nausea, depression, or anxiety
Keeping a food sensitivity journal is helpful for identifying your symptoms, and homing in on which foods are causing problems. You’ll be reintroducing foods one by one, while recording the following:
- Which food
- Your symptoms
- Whether your reactions are mild, moderate, or severe
When you reintroduce a new food, eat that food twice a day for two days, skip it on the third day, and observe and record your reactions (or lack thereof). If you have no reaction to the food you just reintroduced, you can move on to the next food on day four. If you do notice a reaction to a particular food, such as fatigue or headache, stop eating it, and record your symptoms in your food journal. Once you’ve identified a food causing symptoms for you, remove it from your diet again. Make sure to take your time; if you have a reaction to a food you’re sensitive to, wait until your symptoms have completely cleared up before reintroducing the next food for testing.
While this process of testing for food sensitivities takes some patience, feeling better is so worth it! It takes about two to three weeks to reintroduce and test each food you removed for your cleanse, but at the end of the reintroduction phase you’ll know which foods you can successfully reintroduce, and those you’re better off avoiding. The good news is, once your body has healed more deeply over time, you may be able to reintroduce some foods in moderation that were previously causing problems; your symptoms may also be less severe in the long run.
Written by Carolyn De Lorenzo
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