Reintroducing foods on the AIP Diet can be tricky, especially when you might not be ready for them yet. After at least thirty days of the strict elimination diet on AIP, AND with a reduction in your overall autoimmune symptoms, you may THEN be ready to reintroduce certain foods. After two successful rounds reintroducing foods on the AIP Diet for Alopecia, I’ve discovered the do’s and don’ts that can lead to a successful reintroduction of less inflammatory foods. The following do’s and don’ts will get you on the road to feeling a little more “normal” again.
The Do’s of Reintroducing Foods on the AIP Diet
Do go slow.
Remember your body has been used to and most likely loving a very gentle nutrient dense diet for quite some time now. Taking food introductions on AIP slow with a seed, nut or legume here and there will prep your body to move up to dairy or other exciting foods.
Do check in with your recent cravings.
After about five months on my first round on AIP I started noticing my body wanted certain foods. I craved bread with ghee and mozzarella cheese balls. I was able to work both those in pretty early on in my reintroductions with no allergies or increase in symptoms. Your body is your communication device. If you notice your body is starting to crave certain foods then perhaps think about moving them up in the reintroduction line.
Remember your cravings will come from your gut, not your mind.
Do go from least reactive to most.
This is the best way to make sure you get all the information you need about what your body likes. You’ll take this knowledge with you even after you are done on the AIP diet. By going from least to most reactive, or most likely to cause inflammation, you are getting data on your allergies and affectations.
Here’s a helpful food list to get you through reintroducing foods on the AIP Diet. Pin it to your favorite recipe board or download it for a cheat sheet!
Do Have a Strategy for Reintroducing Foods on AIP.
Do have your regular meal ready to go.
When you are in the process of reintroducing foods on the AIP diet, at some point something you reintroduce is not going to go as planned. Have a backup meal ready to go! Nothing worse than a reintroduction that doesn’t go well and you have nothing else to eat! Trust me, if you’re likely to fall into a despair over a food reintroduction not going well, you will want a yummy nourishing meal ready to comfort your emotions and belly.
Do take just one bite.
This is important. Take a small bite and wait a bit, like 15 minutes to see how it feels. If that goes well, take another small bite and wait a few hours. Often time we will feel a reaction right away or it may take a little while for them to appear. Then if all feels good eat a small- normal size portion. Give yourself anywhere from 3-7 days to make sure no reactions surface, and then if you are in the clear you are good to go. Congrats!
Do pay attention to your reactions.
Your reactions will be heightened versions of your symptoms, or will generally feel unbalanced. Your body is prepped and primed to give you accurate information about what it likes and doesn’t right now. Reactions can include sudden congestion, itchy throat, allergy type symptoms, headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.
I recently reintroduced some foods after my second round on the AIP diet for Alopecia. Initially, I started small and gentle with foods from my first round that I knew wouldn’t cause a reaction. Clearly, I wasn’t ready for the later stage foods because the reactions I had were pretty instant and obvious.
My symptoms were: A super stuffy nose, headache, itchy scalp, lots of heat coming from my head, and hair follicles started hurting (like they were needles).
Do take notes.
Keeping track by writing down in a journal or the notes section will help. You can do it by using a ranking system 1 being no symptoms and 10 being the most.
If I have foods ranking over 5 that doesn’t mean I’m never going to eat them again, it just means not right now. My body might still be rebalancing. After some time, I’ll try to reintroduce again to see if they are temporary or long-term avoiders.
Ex. White Rice-0, Sesame Oil- 1, Organic Mozzarella Cheese- 2, Bread- 3, Tomato Sauce- 7, Red Pepper – 9
For another helpful resource on how to reintroduce foods on the AIP diet, check out The Paleo Mom’s post with more why’s and how’s here.
The Don’t’s of Reintroducing Foods on the AIP Diet.
Don’t go straight for pizza.
You will want to but don’t. Don’t go straight to your favorite eliminated foods, because your body will need some time even rebalancing the new reintroduced foods.
I actually introduced a few foods before I went to pizza, which went over pretty good after my first round of reintroductions on the AIP diet for my alopecia. The second round of introductions did not go over so well. Currently, I am not ready for tomato sauce…yet.
Don’t forget what felt good in your body before AIP. – Did you crave certain foods as a child, do you dislike certain foods? That could be your bodies natural way of saying certain foods do or don’t feel good in you.
For me, rice always felt good pre-AIP so I knew I would be okay when I worked it back in.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy it.
Yes, this is serious health data collection but don’t forget to enjoy it! You haven’t eaten these foods for quite a while so enjoy it. If you feel nervous, stressed, or depressed about working in certain foods, you basically are putting that low-frequency energy back into your body. That’s worse than eating a nightshade! This whole thing, autoimmune and AIP, is about what feels good for your body right? Don’t let your thoughts go rogue on your healing journey at any stage.
Don’t introduce more than one food at a time.
Seriously, think “data collection” and it will prevent you from mixing foods. Like a scientist, you will want to control as many factors and cooking influence as you can. If you go introducing multiple foods at once you won’t be able to categorize the reaction you’re having from a certain food.
You want to be able to make the decision whether a stuffy nose after eating cheese is livable vs your sciatic nerve going off from eating egg whites is not.
Reintroducing foods on the AIP diet is not a free for all!
Don’t plan your reintroductions at a restaurant.
This isn’t a celebration…yet. As excited as you are to eat your most missed foods, you still need to make sure you can control the ingredients. Reintroductions are all about control.
With most restaurants, you can’t control cooking oils and spices (unless you call ahead like I do) so make sure you are setting yourself up for reintroduction success. You also might feel pressured to just “be normal” like everyone else and are more likely to go off the AIP rails.
Don’t rush it, your body may not be ready yet.
Slow and easy wins the race. And this isn’t a race..it’s just reintroducing foods. You have all the time in the world and if your body isn’t ready then give it a few more weeks. If you don’t feel ready to reintroduce something, don’t.
*You don’t have to reintroduce something just because you made it to 30 days on the elimination phase.
Reintroductions are as personal as your autoimmune dis-ease. You will know when you’re ready. After some time on AIP, you are probably more in tune with your body than you have been in a long time. You may think “oh, I want to be normal again and eat normal foods” but you might not realize you are developing your new normal. Not every food is going to be eaten long term but that’s okay! Your body is letting you know how to care for it best going forward.
So go slow, have fun, and take notes!
Even after you reintroduce foods on AIP, you might want to keep your snacks AIP friendly between meals. Check out my favorite AIP friendly snacks I ate while being on the road here.