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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
A New Series
Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol was my first e-book, which I published back in 2014. I realized that the reintroduction process is often the trickiest part of the AIP journey. It can be confusing, overwhelming, and hard to navigate alone. I wrote the book to guide people through, and thereafter got a nickname: Reintro Goddess. (Just kidding, but wouldn't that be a great nickname?) I'm passionate about this process for two reasons: (1) Some people make the mistake of thinking the elimination phase of the AIP is meant to last forever. It's not. It's just the first step. The next step is personalizing the diet for you. (2) The reintroduction process is an experiment with you at the center, where you learn to communicate clearly with your body, and it's incredibly empowering! Everyone's reintroduction experience is unique. I thought it would be inspiring and educational to interview people who have been through this process themselves. This is the second of many such interviews, which I plan to share here on my blog.
Erin is the blogger behind Real Food & Love. She has psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and Raynaud's disease, and the paleo autoimmune protocol has been an essential part of her healing journey. She shares both elimination-phase AIP recipes on her blog as well as some AIP reintroduction recipes.
- How long did you do the elimination phase? Six months initially, but after reintroducing too many foods at once led to a flare, I repeated the elimination phase for another six months before doing the reintroduction process slowly and correctly.
- What foods have you been able to successfully reintroduce? Fresh legumes, berry-based and seed-based spices, grass-fed ghee, pasture-raised eggs, some seeds (and seed butters like tahini and sunflower seed butter), cacao, coffee (I stick to decaf though as I’ve found I do best with low caffeine), white rice, and alcohol very occasionally (gluten-free naturally, but my drink of choice is our homebrewed mead).
- Which ones can you eat regularly and which ones just occasionally? How did you discern the difference? I can eat fresh legumes and seeds as often as I like. Ghee, eggs, cacao, decaf coffee, and white rice are occasional. Mead is even less frequent than those. I base this off how I feel. I tend to listen to my body, especially when I'm feeling run down. That's when I seem to crave simplicity and nourishment (which happens to be AIP).
- When food reintroductions failed, what were your symptoms? I went about reintroductions the wrong way the first time – going straight for the foods I missed most and not one at a time. I dove back into coffee, chocolate, and nuts all at once which resulted a miserable psoriasis flare that included incredibly swollen joints in my toes. That new-to-me symptom prompted me to seek out a rheumatologist, resulting in the diagnoses of psoriatic arthritis and Raynaud’s disease. Before that, my only diagnosis was psoriasis.
- Did any reintroduction failures later become successes? Cacao and coffee. The first time I tried reintroducing them, I rushed the process and reintroduced them alongside nuts (which are one of my food intolerances). When I reintroduced cacao and coffee separately (after my flare had passed), they were successes.
- Have you reintroduced any non-paleo foods? If yes, which ones and how often do you eat them? While some paleo purists might turn up their noses at it, I’m on #teamwhiterice. There are more nutrient-dense starch options, but rice is incredibly convenient and I’ve enjoyed having that back on my plate occasionally.
- Is there any food you’d never reintroduce? Gluten for sure. I am quite apprehensive about nuts and nightshades too, but I likely will try to reintroduce them eventually.
- What affects your food tolerance? If I’m feeling run down, dealing with any sort of brain fog, or am feeling especially tired I stick pretty close to the elimination stage. When I feel great, I enjoy have a wider variety of foods.
- Have you ever done an AIP reset (where you did the elimination phase over again)? If yes, what was the motivation, and did you find it helpful? Because I still often prepare meals that are elimination stage compliant, I’ve never felt the need to do a “reset”.
- Are there any foods allowed on the AIP that you discovered you don’t tolerate? I figured out coconut was causing some GI distress for me (something I had never dealt with before). After eliminating coconut foods for many months, I found I was able to tolerate homemade coconut yogurt, coconut butter, and coconut milk in small amounts and infrequently. I was clearly overdoing coconut before. I suspect it had to do with the inulin fiber content. Coconut oil posed no issue for me though.
- What was the hardest part for you about the reintroduction process? The second time around, it was tough not being afraid. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did the first time and was more thoughtful and cautious with the process. I never thought I’d be so happy to have black pepper again (and realized a little goes a long way!)
- What’s your advice for people contemplating reintros, or just starting their own reintroduction journey? Be patient with yourself. Remember even a “failed” reintro is a success in that your body is now able to clearly communicate with you.
One Last Word of Advice
Each person's food reintroductions are unique, so don't expect your results to be the same as above, even if you share the diagnosis. It's fun to learn about each other's experiences and be encouraged by them, but this is all about learning to listen to your own body. Use the resources below to learn how to do the reintroduction process yourself.
Paleo AIP Reintroduction Resources
This is part of a series of interviews. Click here to read all of them.