Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP

Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP | Phoenix Helix

For a complete guide to the reintroduction process, including recipes, check out my E-Book!

The Process

  • After eliminating the AIP foods for a minimum of 30 days and seeing clear improvement in your autoimmune symptoms, you can start reintroducing them into your diet, one at a time. This is the testing period, where you discover if you are sensitive to any of these foods.
  • Choose one food to reintroduce. The first reintroduction step is a series of tiny bites which minimize the risk of intense reactions. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and wait 15 minutes. If you have no reaction, eat a full teaspoon, and wait another 15 minutes. If no reaction, eat 1-1/2 teaspoons. Then wait a few hours. If still no reaction, go ahead and eat a normal size portion of that food. Now, stop eating the food altogether, and watch your body for symptoms over the next 3 days. Reactions can happen anywhere from immediately, to a full 72 hours later. A reaction is an increase in your autoimmune disease symptoms. This might be pain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a skin rash, digestive distress, brain fog, moodiness, etc.
  • If you do have a negative reaction, you know you are intolerant and should avoid that food. Wait for the symptoms to pass before reintroducing another food, so you have a clear baseline for each reintroduction.
  • If you have no reaction, that food is potentially safe for you to eat. To confirm this, eat a little bit of this food every day for a week, and monitor your body again. Food intolerance seems to come in two forms. (1) A strong reaction, where there’s no doubt that your body reacts negatively to the food. (2) A cumulative inflammatory response that starts off so mild you can miss at first, but becomes noticeable after daily consumption. If after eating the food for a week, your body still feels good, then you know that food is not a problem, and you can introduce the next one.
  • Tip: as human beings, our bodies fluctuate from day to day; some days we feel a little better than others, and some days we feel a little worse. When you’re monitoring for a reaction, you’re looking for a clear response outside of the range of your normal fluctuations.
  • Emotions can also affect the reintroduction process in two ways: (1) Denial: you reintroduce a food, have a negative reaction, and think to yourself, “There’s no way this is a food reaction; it’s gotta be something else.” That’s one of the reasons there’s a second phase, where you eat a little bit of the new food every day for a week. If the food causes a reaction, there will be no question by the end of the week. (2) Fear: you’re so afraid of what might happen when you reintroduce a food that the emotion itself causes you to flare. Emotions are powerful; don’t ignore them. Meditate, practice heartmath, do some deep breathing, write in your journal. Do whatever helps you relax, before reintroducing the new food. If you can’t let the fear go, postpone reintroductions until you feel emotionally ready. There’s no rush.

Order of Reintroduction

  • Introduce egg yolks by themselves, before introducing whole eggs. Most people tolerate the yolks well; if there’s an intolerance, it’s usually to the egg white. Note: Soy is a common chicken feed, and research shows the soy protein is transferred to the eggs. If you find you’re intolerant to eggs, you might actually be reacting to the soy. Some people have found that they can eat pastured soy-free eggs, but not conventional ones, for this reason.
  • Introduce seeds before nuts. (1) Start with fruitbased and seedbased spices. (2) Next, test seedbased oils (like sesame). (3) If that went well, proceed to soaked and dehydrated seeds, (4) Then try seed butters and flours, raw seeds and toasted seeds. (5) Finally, test cocoa and coffee separately. Although they’re seeds, the body responds to them uniquely. The best way to reintroduce cocoa is through homemade chocolates, so you isolate other variables. (Storebought chocolate often contains soy and refined sugars.) The same goes for coffee. Don’t go to Starbucks; make it at home. (6) If you digest most seeds well, reintroduce nut oils (like walnut and macadamia). (7) Then soaked and dehydrated nuts, (8) Then nut butters and flours, raw nuts and toasted nuts. Why? Seeds are easier to digest than nuts, and soaking seeds and nuts increases their digestibility another level. Individual vs. group: You have the option of introducing one variety of seed or nut at a time, or introducing all types of seeds at once, and later all types of nuts at once. Cashews & Pistachios are the exceptions to this rule. They’re members of the poison ivy family, and for that reason, the Paleo Approach recommends reintroducing them last. Tip: When you’re ready to try toasted seeds or nuts, it’s better to buy them raw and toast them at home, rather than buy toasted ones from the store. Store-bought varieties are often toasted in refined oils not allowed on the paleo diet (such as canola oil).
  • For dairy, reintroduce in this order: (1) grassfed ghee, (2) grassfed butter, (3) raw goat yogurt or kefir, (4) raw goat milk, (5) raw goat cheese, (6) raw cow cream (7) raw cow yogurt or kefir, (8) raw cow milk, (9) raw cow cheese. Why? Dairy is made of three components: butterfat, lactose and casein. Generally people don’t have a problem with butterfat, which is why ghee and butter come first. If there is a food intolerance, it will be either to the lactose or the casein (milk is high in lactose and cheese is high in casein.) Raw dairy is recommended as long as you can find a trusted source. It contains living enzymes that make it easier to digest, as well as a higher nutritional profile. Lastly, goat dairy is introduced before cow dairy, because goat dairy is easier to digest.
  • Nightshades are recommended as the last reintroduction, because they are the most common food intolerance for people with autoimmune disease, and the effects of the inflammation after reintroduction can take longer to tone down. When you reintroduce them, do so one vegetable at a time. While some people find they are intolerant to all nightshades, others find they tolerate some and not others.

Testing Again in the Future

Just because you have a food intolerance now doesn’t mean this will always be so. As your body heals, you can often reintroduce foods again and find that your intolerance is gone. Wait 6 months, focus on healing, and then try the reintroduction process again.

AIP Series

I’ve written a series of articles to guide you through the autoimmune protocol, step by step. It includes FAQ, mistakes to avoid, book reviews, and more. Click here to see the whole list.

For a complete guide to the reintroduction process, including recipes, check out my E-Book!

This post is linked to the following blog carnivals:
Whole Food Friday, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, Natural Living Monday, Fat Tuesday, Healthy Tuesday, Tuned In Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Well Fed Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Simple Lives Thursday, Paleo Rodeo,

27 thoughts on “Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP

  1. Pingback: Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP | Paleo Digest

    • I definitely learned that taking it slowly was necessary to get accurate results. It takes a lot of patience, but it’s worth it!

  2. I have been doing well for a while and decided to re-introduce eggs after 60 days. I just added yolks. Today my back is in a constant painful spasm and my husband had to come home from work to take care of the kids! OW! No more eggs. Message received. Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday :)

  3. I have an atypical reacction to offending foods–I sneeze. Sometimes I get congested too, or just congested with no sneezing. My nose is my first round of defense that tells me to go get Benadryl. My second round of defense is a rash on hands & feet, sometimes accompanied by tingling. Third round is swollen, achy joints, and lastly, anaphylaxis. If I don’t listen to my nose, I know it’s *fun times* ahead, so we keep Benadryl everywhere (even in the car).

  4. I have been on the protocol for 7 weeks and decided to introduce eggs this weekend. I didnt take your advice by starting with just the yolk, I had the whole egg and I think that was a big mistake! I ate 3 for breakfast on Saturday and 3 on Sunday morning. I broke out in acne on face, got a sore throat & headache, and was very tired all weekend. Its now Thursday and I still feel almost like I am getting over the flu. Are these typical reaction symptoms or am I just actually getting sick? I guess I just thought the symptoms would have subsided by now if it was caused by the eggs.

    • During my reintroductions, when I reacted negatively to a food, it took 1-2 weeks for that reaction to pass. I would start to feel somewhat better after a few days, but it would take longer to return to baseline. Since this happened immediately after eating the eggs, it is very likely a reaction to the eggs. However, there’s always the chance the timing coincided with illness. If you want to double-check, wait until you feel better and reintroduce eggs again – maybe just 1 egg at each meal for the second attempt. This is the un-fun part of reintroductions – when your body says no to a food. On the other hand, having clear communication with our bodies is empowering. You know just what to do to avoid feeling this way again. In the mean time, I’m sending hugs to you!

  5. I stocked up on Vitamin C today in case it is just an illness but my gut tells me its not… Its just frustrating that 5 days after eating the eggs, I am still not well. Its funny because I was paleo for a few months last year and never felt that great and I think now it might be because I was eating eggs literally everyday for breakfast! So curious to test again in a few weeks. Thanks again for all the info and feedback about the AI protocol!

    • Hi Savannah. I actually don’t recommend adding back grains at all. Here’s an article that explains why. However, I realize you may have a different philosophy. If you want to reintroduce grains, I recommend doing them one at a time, starting with some of the milder ones like quinoa, buckwheat and white rice and seeing how your body responds. You might also consider soaking or sprouting them first, to make them easier to digest.

  6. Pingback: AutoImmune Protocol: Another Step to Healing Hashimoto's Simply Healthy Home

  7. Hi! I’ve been on AIP for 3 months now which I started because of severe eczema. Healing started after about 2-3 weeks & is still continuing. However, about 6 weeks ago I started losing my voice which has gotten worse. Some days I can only whisper & I also feel short of breath. Have you ever heard of this as a side effect of a food allergy?

    • I haven’t, but anything’s possible. The important thing is to have that checked by a doctor; it sounds serious, Ric, especially if you’re getting short of breath. I recommend making an appointment this week.

  8. Hi Eileen,
    I reintroduced seed spices on Saturday. Didn’t feel that great but didn’t feel significantly worse so I considered it may just be an ordinary “feeling not so great day.” There wasn’t any very significant change. I wanted to wait the 72 hours until today to retry it but then yesterday, I felt HORRIBLE! Considered it may be the seed spices but then I decided to investigate the fillers from a pill I took on Sunday for something unrelated. Comes out that the pill contains lactose and corn flour! Argh. It’s such a small amount as it’s just in a capsule. Could that have brought back my symptoms in full force? I’m scared to try the seed spices again but I have a feeling they weren’t causing any harm. How crazy that I could have milk without any “supposed” symptoms for years. Maybe I wasn’t seeing what it was doing to my body.

    • Supplements can definitely be road blocks if they contain allergenic ingredients. I’m so glad you checked. It sounds you might like some 1:1 guidance through this process. Angie at the Paleo Mom Consulting is a great health coach, if you would like someone to help sort through these decisions. She works with people around the world, via Skype:

  9. How do you scale down the quantities for spice reintroductions? Obviously eating a teaspoon of pepper is not very appealing! How much should you have in the initial attempt and is it necessary to eat unaccompanied? Thanks!

    • Just add the spice to the food, and then eat a teaspoon of the food (and follow the rest of the reintro. steps from there.) The idea is to reintroduce food in the quantity and manner it is usually eaten. May your reintroduction be successful! Black pepper is nice to get back.

  10. Hi Eileen

    I bought your ebook to help with reintroductions. I was really scared to start, but your book gave me courage. I tried egg yolk and after just the first day (doing it just like you suggest) I woke up the next morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I am waiting for the full two weeks and want to try spices next.

    I’m writing because I can’t quite figure out if I am supposed to try each of the fruit based spices one at a time or if I can do several at once. Same question with seed-based spices. Your book only has a recipe for the seed-based spices and it is a mixture (I think) of more than one. If I am ok after trying black pepper, does that mean all seed-based spices are now ok?

    Thanks for your help,

    • Hi Kelly. I’m so sorry the egg yolks were a no-go. You have a choice with spices. You can introduce a blend of spices within each category, or one spice at a time. I did the categories (fruitbased first and then seedbased), and that went well for me. If I had reacted to the blend, I would have separated it and tried a few spices individually to see if just one was the problem. It all depends on how long you want the spice reintros. to take. The good news is that most people are successful reintroducing the fruit and seedbased spices. Nightshade spices are a different story. Postpone those until late in your reintroductions.

  11. Pingback: Paleo Autoimmune Protocol 101

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