With Whole30, my reintroduction phase was what I was most excited for. It also is what made me see the value of Whole30. By the time day 30 of Whole30 hit, I wasn’t feeling that Whole30 had really benefited me, and I was frustrated that I didn’t feel big changes. My extended Whole30 reintroduction period allowed me to see the value by figuring out what my body liked and didn’t like. By having those additional days after reintroducing foods, it made me see the difference in how I felt when eating certain foods versus being on Whole30.
Extended Whole30 Reintroduction Plan
- Day 1-2: Legumes
- Day 3-6: Whole30
- Day 7-11: Non-gluten grains
- Day 12-15: Whole30
- Day 16-18: Dairy
- Day 19-23: Whole30
- Day 24-26: Gluten
- Day 27-30: Whole30
I didn’t stick exactly to the schedule. I started gluten a day early, and wasn’t able to go back to Whole30 after I reintroduced gluten. Since the point of going back to Whole30 after the reintroduction period was to figure out if any of the foods had an impact on me, I didn’t see the point. I could already tell the impact gluten had on my body. The whole reason I was able to get through Whole30 was because my actions had a purpose; once Whole30 stopped having a purpose, I was off of it.
So how did each of the foods affect me after the reintroduction period?
At first, I thought I didn’t feel much of a difference. I had an excuse for everything that felt a bit off. After eating spoonful after spoonful of peanut butter, my stomach didn’t feel great, but I told myself that was more to do with the extreme volume than the peanuts themselves. My neck was a bit irritated afterwards for a few days (Saturday to Monday), but I told myself that was due to being on a laptop at a bad angle for hours. My skin also was breaking out, but that had started before I switched to legumes and was more attributable to where I was in my menstrual cycle than the legumes.
It was only after I reintroduced non-gluten grains that I realized that actually, I think legumes did affect me. The grains genuinely didn’t affect me, and the difference in how I felt when I reintroduced legumes versus when I reintroduced grains made me think a bit more critically at how I felt with legumes. I’m still not sure that legumes are causing any issues, but it’s something to consider and be mindful of going forward.
Verdict: More experimentation needed. Considering limiting intake.
I was elated to add grains back in. I had a bag of popcorn for dinner one night, and a bowl of rice with soy sauce for dinner another night. My boyfriend said that under normal circumstances, those would be pretty sad dinners, and I agree. But, since I hadn’t had them for a while, I was PUMPED! I ate grains with pretty much every meal, and they were so satisfying. Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean food–I ate it all with a reckless abandon. I was so happy to finally bite into those rice noodles that I had been craving for so long.
The only difference I felt with this Whole30 reintroduction phase was that my craving for sugar increased. This may have been because I also had snacks and desserts that I had stopped myself from eating. For instance, I made some coconut rice pudding (with a teaspoon of sugar) and coconut pudding (no sugar). These might have awoken my sugar dragons because they were not quite satisfying in their level of sweetness. Usually when I eat these, they’re very sweet, and what I made was like a sad participation prize.
Verdict: No impact, eat away!
On day 6, I ate some eggs that I think had milk or cream in them. For the rest of the morning, I was sluggish and had trouble writing/spelling. I panicked and thought it had to be because of the dairy. Turns out, my brain just wasn’t working that morning.
When I did reintroduce dairy after Whole30, I had no issues with my mental capacity. In fact, I spent my dairy days flexing my brain muscles by writing VBA code to build out some macros in Excel. My brain functioned well, and I was able to work through more complex problems, even though my VBA was very, very rusty. If I had only done one reintroduction day, I would have thought that dairy was the cause of me being dumb.
I loved reintroducing dairy, I’m not going to lie. One day, I went to the grocery store and bought a ball of mozzarella cheese to use in cooking chicken later that night. Once I got home and unpacked my groceries, however, I housed the entire ball. It was deliciously creamy. I missed cheese so much. I missed yogurt so much. I missed cream in sauces so much. I missed full-protein butter so much. It was glorious.
My biggest regret in reintroducing cheese was I tried to make queso from real cheese. I love queso, and make it for parties and potlucks pretty regularly. It’s a fan favorite, but there is nothing natural about it–it’s Velveeta. There’s a recipe I found that said it was just as good as the fake cheese queso, and holy crap, was that a lie! I made a pretty small batch, and ended up throwing out about half of it (if you know me, this will be a shocking statement). I would have been better to just not make real cheese queso.
My skin, however, did break out again over the weekend and into the week, and after my dairy binge, I was pretty bloated. However, it took a few days to be bloated, so as long as I don’t have a ton of dairy consistently, I think I’ll be fine.
Verdict: Makes me bloated after several days, possibly causes acne breakouts, never use that real cheese queso recipe again
This was the one I was dreading the most in my Whole30 reintroduction, because it has the highest stakes. Bread and pasta are my comfort foods. I like starting out my day with oatmeal. More critically, how can I eat cake without gluten???
Unfortunately, this was the one with the almost immediate reaction. My midsection wasn’t just bloated after eating four slices of bread, it was distended. It looked like I was 6-7 months pregnant when I looked in the mirror a few hours after eating. When I poked at it, it was hard. It was a little freaky.
But my reaction was much worse than just being extremely bloated. After herniating a disc in my neck last year, I constantly felt at a minimum a dull ache. During Whole30, I realized I was having days without pain. It was great! But then, after reintroducing gluten, my neck became very irritated. It didn’t start getting better until a couple days after I stopped eating gluten.
I have to admit, I was a big skeptic about gluten sensitivities. Before all of this, I did believe that Celiac Disease was a real and awful condition, but everyone who claimed gluten sensitivity but didn’t have Celiac really just wanted to lose weight. I had lived my life eating gluten nonstop, and I’ve tested negative for a gluten allergy, so I was fine with gluten, I reckoned. This experience has made me really think that there might be something to all the gluten sensitivity talk, and I don’t think I’ll be as dismissive and, well, condescending as I was before. The science doesn’t really support gluten causing inflammation, with some more controlled studies pointing to FODMAPs instead. But, I’m willing to experiment on myself more by cutting it out and seeing how I feel–after I eat 10 sheet cakes.
Verdict: Correlation with inflamed joints. Try to cut out gluten, and see if problem persists.
Was An Extended Whole30 Reintroduction Period Worth It?
Anyone can have an off day. The reintroduction plan laid out by the Hartwigs is the right idea, but I really think you need more days where you reintroduce foods after Whole30. Some reactions may not be immediate, some might be only apparent after longer-term consumption.
Yes, it’s a bummer to do that much more Whole30, but wouldn’t it be worse to struggle through Whole30 and then not know for sure if you really had a reaction to a certain food, or if it was just an off day? Don’t you want to know what the effects of eating something for a longer time does to you? After all, if you think that a food doesn’t cause any bad reactions, you’ll be reintroducing it for a long time.
I would have hated to think that all the foods had no reaction on my body, reintroduce them all, and immediately start to feel lousy. Not taking the time to give my body more time to readjust to the foods is something I would have regretted forever. I don’t want to do Whole30 again–I’m playing for keeps here!
If you’ve gone through the Whole30 reintroduction period, what have you found?