Life After Whole 30: The Reintroduction Plan
First of all, CONGRATS on finishing your Whole30! Those 30 days are NOT easy + you should feel proud of yourself for sticking to your goal + completing the challenge! But — before you go off celebrating [; )], you should take a little time to relax + reflect on the past month.
For 30 entire days you committed to eating only wholesome, nutritious foods, without “cheating” the plan, not even once — now that is an amazing feat, especially for a busy CHAARG girl! Sticking to the challenge requires incredible planning + effort + a whole lotta self-love! Those 30 days were a journey + if you take a little time to think about how you feel — they could become life changing!
You’ve learned that what you put into your body matters + focused on eating real food + learned to listen to your body. Hopefully you’re feeling some amazing positive effects, but you don’t want to let all your hard work go to waste with one crazy night! Trust me — we know it’s already been 30 days + all you want are some tacos, or some ice cream [or maybe both ; )] — BUT, you’ll be happier + feel better if you hold out on the indulgences + reintroduce slowly.
So, how does this whole *reintroduction thing* work anyways? The purpose of the Whole30 is to focus on whole foods + to remove certain foods that may not be the best for your body, so you can see how you feel. Now that you’ve already finished the hard part, let’s get to it —
#1] LOOK AT YOUR CRAVINGS
Are there certain foods you had cravings for during the challenge? What about foods you thought you might crave, but never found yourself thinking about? Start by separating the off-plan foods into things you missed vs. things you didn’t.
#2] DECIDE WHICH FOODS TO REINTRODUCE
Those foods on the didn’t miss list? Those are the foods you are not going to reintroduce. I know, I know — this sounds crazy, but if you didn’t crave a certain food [maybe for you — it was cheese] then don’t worry about re-introducing it! You probably feel better without eating those certain foods + if they aren’t necessary for a healthy diet — go ahead + forget about em’! But, do keep in mind that the Whole30 is designed to be a 30 day challenge, not a plan you should follow for life. So, any healthy foods you didn’t necessarily crave, but that aren’t Whole30 approved [oats, beans, peas, yogurt, etc.], you’ll want to include in your reintroduction!
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list, how do you know what comes first? The order of the food groups is not strict, but this is a great recommended outline:
DAY 1 — LEGUMES
First up — good ol’ peanut butter [we know the key to a CHAARG girl’s heart ; )]. Introduce legumes at each of your meals, while keeping the rest of your food true to the Whole30. For days 2+3, go back to eating only Whole30 approved foods [no legumes]. You’ll want to pay close attention to how you feel during those two days. There is no magic formula to determine if legumes are good for you + your body, but if you felt good during days 2 + 3 — go ahead + put PB on your next shopping list, girl!
EXAMPLE FOODS: Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Peanuts + PB, Soy, Edamame, Tofu, etc.
DAY 4 — NON-GLUTEN GRAINS
Careful, this is not all grains, only the ones that do not contain the protein gluten. You’ll repeat the same process as earlier — eating the non-gluten grains as a part of each of your meals + keeping the rest of your diet Whole30. This time, days 5 + 6 will be 100% Whole30. Again, pay close attention to how you feel + decide if non-gluten grains should be a part of your diet.
EXAMPLE FOODS: Quinoa, Corn, Rice, Certified Gluten-Free Oats, Buckwheat, Millet, etc.
DAY 7 — DAIRY
Yep, you can finally have that ice-cream you’ve been craving! Eat dairy as a part of your meals on day 7 + return to full Whole30 for days 8+9. Think about how you feel + decide whether dairy should or should not be a part of your diet.
EXAMPLE FOODS: Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Ice Cream, Sour Cream, Butter, Cream Cheese, etc.
DAY 10 — GRAINS CONTAINING GLUTEN
Yay, you’ve made it to the last food group! Celebrate by eating some gluten containing grains as part of your meals for day 10. Days 11+12 will be entirely Whole30 again — still paying close attention to how your body feels + then deciding if you’ll be bringing gluten back.
EXAMPLE FOODS: Wheat + Rye + Barley — found in Breads, Pancakes, Crackers, Bagels, etc.
The reintroduction itself is not easy, but it’s the key to turning all your hard work into a positive life change! Try your best to finish the full reintroduction + really pay attention to how you feel. It’s important to evaluate each food group on how you actually feel, not on how you want to feel. If you love toast + bagels, but the gluten-containing grains didn’t make you feel great — you should let gluten go — for the sake of your health. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up bread forever! There are many great alternatives to each of these food groups [gluten-free breads, lactose-free milk, etc.], so you can still enjoy your favorites — they might just look a little differently now!
It’ll mean changing your habits, but we know you’ve got this girl!
If you’ve done a Whole30 before + have any tips, please comment below + share with us!
+ Teresa [@tasandoval], OSU CHAARG