Hopefully you’ve experienced empowering benefits in the form of improved body composition, better performance, and/or improved sense of health, while also managing to stay connected to a lifestyle that feels sustainable.
So, now what? Day 31 rolls around and the guardrails feel like they’re about to collapse around you, leaving you susceptible to any cupcake, candy bowl, or cocktail you may encounter.
Fear not. The Whole30 is programmed as a 3 step cycle (reset, reintroduction, food freedom, repeat as needed), and you’ve just wrapped part 1. Next up … the reintroduction phase.
Living Life on the Fast Track
Despite how great you may be feeling right now, there are probably some non-Whole30 foods you really missed, which you may feel are necessary for you to feel and/or perform your best. If this is your first Whole30, or if you’ve done a Whole30 before but come day 31, dove straight into a giant bowl of mac ‘n cheese, we (and our friends at the Whole30) strongly encourage you to play by the official rules and guide your gut and brain through a proper fast track reintroduction.
This means bringing back each category of non-Whole30 ingredients in moderation with specific intention over the next 10–14 days. This process allows you to determine if/how any of the ingredients you removed from your plate for 30 days contributes to less than optimal health for you.
As you reintroduce non-Whole30 items (one new category every three days), pay close attention to how you feel .. pro tip: journaling what you notice along the way is incredibly helpful.
You may notice the return of symptoms you always considered normal, but had gone away during your Whole30 (skin breakouts, or mid-afternoon energy crashes are good examples). If this is the case, it’s likely that the food group you just reintroduced is contributing to you feeling less than your best, and in this case you may want to consider keeping the offending items out of your diet as much as possible going forward (and good riddance!).
Of course, if you have known food allergies or intolerances, please don’t try to reintroduce that food (or food group). If you have any health concerns, chat with your doctor to determine the best personalized reintroduction plan.
Let’s Slow Roll It
For some of you, now that you’ve spent time exploring this way of eating, it’s possible that you’ve never felt better, and you’re in no rush to bring back the ingredients that made you feel less than awesome. If that’s you, you may not want to stop at 30 days. You may feel so great, and have experienced such transformation in your health that you may not ever want to bring dairy, legumes, grains, sugar or alcohol back into your life.
While this could be the beginning of a beautiful new food relationship — allowing space for some non-Whole30 foods from time to time is also important, like if a friend makes your favorite cake to celebrate your birthday, or you have an opportunity to dine at a 5-star restaurant.
If this feels more your speed, let us intro you to the slow roll reintroduction. Unless you have a serious food allergy or intolerance, while you may feel your best by sticking to Whole30 principals most of the time, there’s also no need to fear the occasional indulgence in grains, dairy, sugar, or alcohol. This is precisely what Food Freedom is all about!
One strategy we endorse for Whole30 maintenance is to eat roughly 85% compliant with the Whole30 principals — meaning you eat consistent with your goals most of the time, but also make room on your plate for some non-compliant things in roughly 3 meals per week.
Another strategy is to pursue a modified Whole30 — where the bulk of your meals come from Whole30 sources, but you allow for specific exceptions, like cream in your coffee, rice a few times a week, protein powders, etc.
Here at Territory, we’re here to support your reintroduction and Food Freedom journey, whatever shape it takes. All of our meals are centered around delicious, nutrient-dense, minimally processed ingredients, while keeping the dairy and gluten out.
For reintroduction support specifically, encourage you to check out our Paleo filter. It’s structured much like Whole30, but includes small amounts of unprocessed sweeteners. Our Mixitarian filter is Paleo + select gluten-free grains and legumes.
However you approach it, we believe in pursuing a healthy balance through occasionally eating whatever you deem #worthit (in the absence of a food intolerance/allergy), while generally enjoying flavorful, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
Congrats again, and happy reintroducing!