The Reintroduction process is the final stage of the Clean Program and is carried out on Days 22-28. This process allows you to identify any potential food sensitivities or intolerances. These are foods that cause inflammation, irritation, and/or digestive upset.
One of the key reasons you feel better on the Clean Program is the result of having eliminated the most common food allergens and having given your digestive and immune systems a reset. Now, the goal is to discover what your specific sensitivities are by following a seven-day testing period. If you simply go back to your normal diet immediately after the program without knowing what foods bother you, old symptoms and habits may creep back in.
To kick off Reintroduction, continue to follow the Cleanse Diet for a fourth week, eating three solid meals a day. Over the next seven days you’ll be introducing gluten and dairy and noticing how they affect you. (You do not need to use any shakes nor take any supplements during Reintroduction, but may enjoy a smoothie for breakfast if you wish).
The Reintroduction process is seven days long and is conducted as follows:
Monday: Reintroduce Gluten during 2 meals
Tuesday: Reintroduce Gluten during 2 meals
Wednesday: Eat 3 solid meals from the Cleanse Diet, no testing
Thursday: Eat 3 solid meals from the Cleanse Diet, no testing
Friday: Reintroduce Dairy during 2 meals
Saturday: Reintroduce Dairy during 2 meals
Sunday: Reflect on your findings, eat 3 solid meals from the Cleanse Diet
STEP 1: Reintroduce Gluten, 2 times a day for 2 days
On the first and second day of your reintroduction week you’ll be introducing gluten into your diet. Eat gluten two to three times a day, for two days, and then notice what happens over the next forty-eight hours. You’ll still be eating from the Cleanse Diet, the only difference is that you’ll be adding in gluten to see if it is one of the foods that you are sensitive to. Reintroducing gluten by itself is simple. Try eating artisan-style sourdough bread with only a few ingredients for breakfast, and then some fresh pasta for lunch or dinner. Don’t include any dairy or other excluded items yet. The goal is to isolate one excluded food at a time to determine if it is one of the foods that you react to.
STEP 2: Record your reactions in a journal.
This may include bloating, skin breakouts, a foggy mind, or constipation. Not everyone will react to gluten in the same way. Some people may notice their reactions immediately. Others might notice their reactions the next day. That’s why it’s important to test gluten over the course of two days.
STEP 3: Eat from the Cleanse Diet for 2 days
After you have reintroduced gluten, it’s important to return to the Cleanse Diet for two straight two days, to 'clear your palette'.
STEP 4: Reintroduce Dairy for 2 days
For the next two days you’ll be reintroducing dairy into your diet. Eat dairy two to three times a day, for two days, and then notice what happens over the next forty-eight hours. Once again, you’ll still be eating from the Cleanse Diet, the only difference is that you’ll be adding in dairy to see if it is one of your toxic triggers.
To reintroduce dairy try having a glass of milk or some plain yogurt in the morning and a few pieces of cheese with your lunch or evening meal. Today dairy is included in so many different foods. It’s important to avoid having dairy in combination with other excluded foods.
Stay away from cereal, ice cream, or baked goods. These foods contain other excluded foods like processed sugar, gluten or preservatives. For example, If you have ice cream and notice a reaction, you’ll have no idea which excluded ingredient was the cause.
STEP 5: Review Your Journal
Now that you’ve tested both gluten and dairy, it’s time to review your journal. Your goal here is to determine whether gluten and/or dairy are sensitive for you, and just how severe.
Let’s review the possible reactions you may have experienced:
No reaction: I had no reaction at all to the excluded food.
Example: I felt fine. I didn’t notice any changes in mood. I felt energized and awake. Overall, I felt good.
Mild reaction: I had a noticeable reaction to the food.
Example: I felt bloated and gassy. I felt tired. I felt dehydrated. I felt itchy. I felt uncomfortable. My sleep was off. I felt foggy.
Strong reaction: I had a strong negative reaction to the food.
Example: I felt sick. I developed a lot of mucus. I had a strong headache. I became flushed. I became very constipated. I developed a rash. I had trouble sleeping. I felt cold or flu-like symptoms. I developed diarrhea. I became very angry or upset.
STEP 6: Remove or Rotate
The final step is to decide whether you need to a) remove or b) rotate these trigger foods.
Remove: If you had a strong negative reaction to a trigger food, this is your body telling you to eliminate this food from your diet completely for a period of time. We know that removing a favorite food from your diet can be challenging, but the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term gratification. Many people continue to become healthier simply by removing their key intolerances.
Rotate: If your reaction to a trigger food is mild but still noticeable, it may not be necessary to eliminate forever. However, you will benefit greatly from reducing your exposure to these foods. Rotate your choice of foods in such a way that you don’t eat the irritating ones more than once a week.
Going Beyond Gluten and Dairy
The two most common food intolerances are gluten and dairy, but they aren’t the only ones out there. The best way to get clear on our relationship with these other foods is continuing the reintroduction process with any of the following: eggs, corn, soy, coffee, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant).
The Bigger Picture
There is no need to be a purist for the rest of your life if you enjoy gluten or dairy. Have them and enjoy them, bringing your awareness fully to the present moment with each bite or sip. There’s nothing worse for digestion than guilt. What’s most important is that you notice the strong connection between what you eat and how you feel. Take your time to explore this process. Your relationship with food wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be reset overnight either.