Do As I Say, Not As I Did: Food Reintroduction

An open letter to anyone going through the phases of reintroducing foods after following an elimination diet.

Do As I Say, Not As I Did : Food Reintroductions

Dear beautiful human,

So you’ve been on an elimination diet, and you’re finally ready to see what you can eat again. Congratulations, this is a big deal!! This means that you must feel AMAZING right now, especially compared to where you were before the start of your elimination protocol. You really deserve an award for sticking through something so difficult in pursuit of feeling better. Let’s not down play just how hard it is to remove certain foods from your life.

 

Eliminating food, is hard. I know, because I’ve been there. Let me say that getting to the reintroduction phase is an accomplishment. Reintroducing foods means healing has occurred within you, and naturally that’s a really great feeling. It can also however, breed a lot of anxiety when it comes to trying new foods that were temporarily “off limits”. It’s completely normal to feel a little scared about adding foods back into your system that could potentially make you feel unwell, perhaps even cause a flare if you have an autoimmune condition or instigate those painful headaches that you finally got rid of.

You may think this fear is even too great to even risk reintroducing foods, don’t let it be. When you’re going to reintroduce foods you want to be methodical about how you go about doing it, if you’re following a certain system, make sure that you follow the steps of reintroducing, like through the autoimmune protocol for example. There are outlined steps and a system that works when it comes to reintroducing foods and being aware of how they affect your body is hugely important in the process. This is essential to knowing what does and does not work for you right now. Perhaps it won’t be forever, but for right now some foods will and will not work in your individual system, and that is okay.

I followed the autoimmune protocol for a year, and then gradually went through the process of reintroducing foods back into my life to see if they were triggers for my body, or if they made me feel less than my best. I started with the small stuff, seed spices, coffee, chocolate, eggs and few other things. I did fine, in fact with each thing I learned something new about myself. I had quit coffee two years prior to following the protocol for other reasons, and I remembered how much I adored the experience of drinking coffee. Now I know, I tolerate it fine, but I already made the choice it’s not something that I wanted as a part of my daily routine.

 

Remember, this is the process, one of deep inquisition into your own body. You are a researcher collecting data. An observer with a mission to understanding how you can best support yourself in a the healthiest way possible, for you.

At this point, reintroduction was going great for me. I was intent and mindful about what I was doing, following the steps and making note of everything that I now recommend to other people and clients who often have questions for me. I was perfectly content with the foods that I had initially reintroduced. I mean eggs alone were basically the star of reintroductions, or as my Grandpa would call them, “hen fruit”. But of course, deep down I desired to be able to tolerate more foods in the future.

 

So here’s my plea to you, where I tell you to “do as I say, not as I did.” And I hope you will head my advice and understand the heavy heart I have in bearing my soul to you. I share all of this with you not for my sake, but in hopes that you don’t have to drudge down the same path that I did.

I had started to reintroduce these foods, and like I said, did fine. I previously had a blood test done to see what foods I definitely had an inflammatory reaction to, I wanted to know for certain if there were any foods that were affecting me internally which I perhaps had missed. This was a personal decision, that you will have to make for yourself. For me, it was insightful, and listed foods that I would have never expected, along with food dyes and some other things that I haven’t come in contact with for years. I was collecting data.

So here I was, with all this data, and I thought, “Wow now I have all this information, I bet I can go forward with more reintroductions.” Especially knowing that certain foods weren’t on this blood test to indicate a known bodily response. Here’s where I went wrong. What I wasn’t doing at this time, was fully listening to my body. I was solely consumed by the information on paper, which let me tell you, is not all knowing. So I started with various foods to reintroduce and try and continued eating the other foods I had already reintroduced, some in moderation and others, not so much. I became so excited by finally being able to have certain foods that I hadn’t had in a long time that the nostalgia inside of me for these foods took over. I didn’t actually miss most of these foods, but is was as if when they suddenly touched my taste buds I was reminded how amazing they are.

Truly, I felt possessed by the thoughts I was then having about these foods that I’d not had in over a year.

Things like nuts and certain seeds, even certain starchy vegetables, and dairy (hello, ghee!) and can you say spoonfuls of almond butter??

What I am saying is, I lost control. I lost control in an arena where control is the prerogative. The entire intent behind an elimination anything is that you are controlling the test and managing the variables. You are both the scientist and the experiment. Essentially, what this lead to for me was feeling depleted, not recognizing symptoms which were random, ones that I hadn’t  had before like runny and itchy nose, or tiny spouts of brain fog. These are all real affects of food intolerance.

So why am I “outing” myself to you, friend? It’s certainly is difficult for me to admit. Here I am, a person who has done a tremendous amount of healing in my life physically and spiritually, and my mission, purpose and drive comes greatly from helping other people (YOU) do the same. How could I let myself do this? There’s a lot of shame associated with food, what we eat and don’t eat.What I should have done, is be more gentle with myself. Taken things slowly, like I did the in the first phase, and tapped more into my body rather than relying solely on blood work. I catch myself saying in my head as I write this to you, “Gosh, you knew all of this, why don’t you follow your own advice?” And I realize, I’m human. Perfectly imperfect. As much as I hate that I struggled with this, I know that it’s only because I dealt with this I will better serve as a guide for those of you who struggle too.

The empath in me grows enormously each time I fail. And for the record, I will continue to fail in my life. This does not make me a failure, and friend, if like me, you’re struggling with this too, you are not a failure. Remember, you are collecting data, the information of your life, on how to best live to your fullest potential. Each times it feels as if you are failing, you are growing. Parts of you are expanding so you can be of better service to yourself, and to the world.

Now, today I have an eclectic diet that ranges in what I eat and don’t eat. My main focus is on diversity with nutrient density as much as possible, eating foods that make me feel amazing and limiting foods that don’t make me feel my best. This is what I recommend to anyone I work with as well, make a list, of all the foods that make you feel amazing, stick to those. From there, get honest and intuitively list the foods that don’t make you feel stellar, be sparing with these. Lastly, list the foods that make you feel like utter shit, even if it’s painful to admit, write it down, break up with these foods, cry, grieve and be kind to yourself for deciding to move away from something that makes you feel terrible, akin to being in a bad relationship, the same goes for food.

We have a deeply emotional connection when it comes nourishing our bodies. You are NOT what you eat. I repeat, you are NOT what you eat. Your worth does not equate to what you put in your mouth. But what you eat does affect how you are able to engage in the world. I implore you to see how you are braver and stronger than you may think. This work you are doing is digging in the trenches to better understand yourself.

Do as I say, be gentle with yourself, take things slowly, listen to your body, take note of your thoughts, and be open to where you feel like you’re failing. Not as I did, by relying solely on information outside of myself, rushing into consuming foods too quickly, becoming overwhelmed by nostalgia with food, and feeling trapped by the shame of landing in this place.

You are healing, and that takes great strength on your part.

Love,

Kari

 

P.S. My favorite resources for reintroducing foods after an elimination diet:

Food Reintroductions After the Autoimmune Protocol

Why Food Intolerance Testing Doesn’t Work

The Paleo AIP Reintroduction Guide

 

Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP

Reintroducing Foods after Following the Autoimmune Protocol

Reintroducing Foods on AIP

 

Reintroducing Food on the Autoimmune Protocol

Why One Round of AIP May Not Be Enough

Reintroductions Where I Stand

Elimination & Reintroduction : Gutsy By Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Eileen @ phoenix helix March 11, 2016

    I love the honesty, vulnerability and wisdom of this post, Kari! I’m always curious. What’s your reintroduction list – the ones that make you feel stellar vs not so great vs your break-up foods?


    • Kari March 12, 2016

      Thank you so much Eileen, that means a ton coming from you! I plan on sharing my full list and process in another post too :) but I will give you a brief overview here to give a small idea, but my list is detailed and extensive so I’ll save all of them for the post.

      Amazing
      -Collards
      -Sauerkraut
      -Avocados
      -Kelp Noodles
      -Bone Broth
      -Salmon
      -Dulse
      -Eggs
      -Turnips

      Be Sparing
      -Pumpkin seeds
      -Canned tuna
      -Brussels sprouts
      -Sweet potatoes
      -Grapes
      -Chicken / Turkey
      -Bananas
      -Macadamia nuts

      Break Up
      -Soft cheese
      -Tomatoes
      -Mushrooms
      -Most grains (occasionally rice)
      -Gluten
      -Dried Coconut
      -Tapioca
      -Walnuts
      -Chiles


  2. Stella Arenillas March 11, 2016

    Great post! I LOVE this suggestion: ‘write a list the foods that make you feel like utter shit, even if it’s painful to admit, write it down, break up with these foods, cry, grieve and be kind to yourself for deciding to move away from something that makes you feel terrible, akin to being in a bad relationship, the same goes for food’.
    I agree with Eileen too -I’d love to know your list of foods. xx


    • Kari March 12, 2016

      Thanks so much Stella for your comment!! I am planning to share another post about that process with my list of foods too but I’ve shared some in my reply to Eileen as well!


  3. Rory March 11, 2016

    fantastic post Kari! For those of us who have embarked on elimination diets, the desire to reintroduce foods quickly is always present. Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability, I too have succumbed to the temptation of reintroducing too many foods too quickly.


    • Kari March 12, 2016

      I agree Rory it’s so hard to navigate this part of healing. Thank you for sharing with me your struggle too, I appreciate you being open so much and commenting here!


  4. Erin March 13, 2016

    I think so many of us that have been around the AIP block for a while can relate to this. I certainly can. <3


  5. Barbara March 22, 2016

    Thank you for such an inspiring post! I am still pretty new to aip…only in about a month and a half…I am sticking to the protocol but haven’t really felt a difference…I did notice that there are a few foods on your list that don’t make you feel optimal that are actually ok on aip…I’m wondering if that might be part of my issue…what was your process for realizing those foods were causing issues for you? Any information you can pass on would be so appreciated :)


    • Kari March 30, 2016

      Thanks so much for sharing Barbara! I realized these foods after a while on AIP and after reintroductions a few different times. I also felt intuitively that certain foods weren’t sitting well with me, even if I didn’t want to admit it! I will be sharing in another post soon about my process and the specific foods that I eat VS don’t or maybe occasionally do.


  6. Louise Gagne April 12, 2016

    It is so great to know that you are not alone on this journey. Thank you so much Kari for your blog and your insight into this subject. I began my journey summer of 2014 with gluten free after being placed on an elimination diet by my allergist. From there, I have progressed to Whole 30, then regular paleo, then AIP, which has changed my life entirely. I miss a lot of the foods I used to eat, but have learned perseverance in light of the fact that I have HAD to eat this way since September 2015. Now I search for recipes, make them, fail at some, had successes with other, but on the whole, I am now feeling much better than I have in a long while. I have already begun reintroducing eggs on a more regular basis and am not feeling any effects, so am sure that’s a good sign. Now it’s on to some other things I really want to reintroduce. I know for sure chocolate is a definite no-no! Have gone off coffee totally and rely on my herbal/decaffeinated teas.
    Thank you so much and bless you Kari. I will be looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.


    • Kari April 12, 2016

      I am touched that this post resonated with you Louise. You are so very welcome. It’s inspiring and empowering not only to hear other peoples story’s like your own, but as a person to share those with others so thank you for sharing a bit of yours with me. It sounds like we had a similar path of progression from paleo to AIP. Sometimes failing in the kitchen can be fun too, but the reward is feeling well and ultimately understanding our body’s better. Thank you again for taking the time to share with me, comments like yours truly keep me going and inspire me! Happy to have you here!


  7. Sheeva April 20, 2016

    What an amazing post. it comes from such a loving place, love for yourself and for all of your readers going through similar struggles. I definitely can relate to much of what you said about reintroducing foods and a feeling of being possessed. I went through something like this even in the most restrictive phases of the GAPs intro diet. I literally dreamed about the foods I would reintroduce and spent any waking spare time googling recipes that I would make once I could reintroduce more foods. it got to a point where I felt like my mind was never free of this food obsession. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.


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