If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, then you know that about six or seven weeks after I launched it, I started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to work on healing symptoms of my autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I wrote about my experience starting out on the AIP here and here, if you’re interested in revisiting my experiences making the transition to the AIP. Today, however, I’m planning to share the beginning of my experiences in reintroducing all of the foods I’ve eliminated from my diet since early April.
As I’ve written about in the past, I used Angie Alt’s SAD to AIP in SIX program to transition to the AIP over a period of six weeks. I started on the full AIP on April 6th, and then I maintained it for about six-and-a-half months. I’d hoped to start reintroductions sooner, but we flew across the country in both September and October, so those couple of months really weren’t an ideal time to begin them. Between stress from travel and an inability to have 100% control over food choices, I decided to just stick to the AIP (and to pack all of my own food to avoid eliminated foods as much as possible). I’d wanted to start reintroductions by that point so that I wouldn’t be quite so limited for my boyfriend’s birthday (late October–last Sunday, actually) and then my own birthday (late November). But, life gets in the way sometimes, and you do what you can.
How I Planned
So, as of right now, I just finished my third week of reintroductions. I began the first reintroduction two days after we returned from our last trip. There are lots of resources out there to help people complete their reintroductions in a structured way, and I’ve decided to follow The Paleo Mom’s guidelines (read about those here and here). When I had a slow day at work one day, I decided to take some time to read up on the information in that second link in particular, and I created my own guide for reintroductions. I stayed true to Sarah’s recommendations of starting with the foods that are least likely to cause issues, and I went from there up to those most likely to cause issues. Within each stage, though, I prioritized the food I missed most to reintroduce first. 🙂
I have a feeling that some of you might be interested, so here is what my list looked like when I first wrote it:
- Black pepper
- Egg yolk
- Grass-fed butter
- Bell peppers
- White potatoes
- Egg whites
I gave myself approximately 5-6 days for each reintroduction. The first three days, I planned to eat a small amount of the reintroduced food with at least two meals per day, monitoring for reactions. Then, I decided to give myself a couple of days for any delayed reactions to show up. If all went well, then I’d proceed on with the next reintroduction. I also focused on foods I actually used to consume on a regular basis, which is why a lot of things aren’t on there (such as hot peppers or eggplant).
Things have gone well so far, but I haven’t quite been able to stick to that schedule.
How Things Are Going
My first reintroduction was ghee. All went well with that, and I noticed no negative reactions. I did develop a strange tingling sensation in the pinky and ring fingers of my left hand, which mostly persisted for a few days before finally tapering off intermittently. Before I moved onto the next reintroduction, I contacted my chiropractor, who was quite sure the tingling was caused by a nerve issue in my upper back and not at all related to the ghee. I went in for an adjustment, and I proceeded onward with black pepper the next day.
Just like with ghee, I didn’t notice any negative reactions with black pepper. It was a little trickier to figure out how to include the black pepper into my breakfasts, but it ended up working out. I’m glad this one went well, because there are a lot of things that I do like with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper!
But, then things went off track. Unintentionally, of course. I kind of forgot that egg yolks were next on the list, and since I started my reintroductions in the middle of week, I wasn’t prepared. We do our grocery shopping on either Friday nights or Saturday mornings, so the previous grocery trip, I’d totally forgotten to put eggs on the list. When I realized I was in the clear with black pepper, I didn’t have time (or maybe I was just too lazy) to go get eggs. My solution was to skip ahead to grass-fed butter, which we did have in our fridge already, and I’ll swing back around to egg yolks after that.
I think the grass-fed butter reintroduction mostly went well. I thought on the first day that I noticed some extra mucous/phlegm in my throat, but I wasn’t totally sure if I was just making that up or if it was actually a reaction to the butter. Of course, this is why you continue to consume small amounts of the reintroduced food for a couple of days, to see if negative reactions persist, unless you have a violently negative reaction right off the bat. Then you don’t continue, which I hope is an unnecessary statement! Anyway, I continued to eat small amounts of butter with a couple of meals per day, and I didn’t notice that extra phlegm-y feeling again. So, my boyfriend picked up organic, free range eggs for me at Whole Foods while he was out grocery shopping, and I’m ready to move onto egg yolks! An Instagram friend brilliantly suggested I make mayo, because I was commenting that I had no idea what to do with just egg yolks! Really, am I Paleo or not?
Here is what my schedule (version 1 listed out above) looks like now:
- Started 10/14: ghee
- Started 10/22: black pepper
- Started 10/28: grass-fed butter
- Starting 11/2: egg yolks (via homemade mayo)
Where I’m Headed
I’m looking forward to the upcoming reintroductions, particularly chocolate, which I’ll hopefully reintroduce just in time for my birthday. 🙂 I think nuts and seeds will prove to be a bit tricky, because there are so many. I think they’ll also take longer than the time I alotted myself, given that I think I’ll want to reintroduce a couple of types of nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, and maybe Brazil nuts–I don’t particularly like them, but a single Brazil nut gets you your daily recommended dose of selenium) and at least one type of seed. But, we’ll see. I’ll work those things out as they come along.
I’m most nervous about reintroducing nightshades. I had accidental exposure to nightshades about a week-and-a-half after I eliminated them, when I ate pre-made burgers from Costco without reading the ingredients list, which had “spices” on it. All was fine until three days later, when I developed joint pain in my right hand that lasted for about a week. Joint pain isn’t bad–I could have much worse negative reactions–but some of my favorite comfort meals include nightshades, so it’s hard to imagine having to eliminate them forever. However, I will remain optimistic and hope for the best!
I plan to write at least one more blog post about my reintroduction process, maybe two. Reintroductions will take me at least a couple of months, as long as I do them right and don’t lose my patience, so I can easily check back in a couple of times with updates on how it’s going. Let me know if you’re interested, and if you’ve already done the AIP for a while and experienced reintroductions, share your story in the comments!
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