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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
This Interview 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.
Introducing Tess Ortega
- How long did you do the elimination phase? 2 months.
- How did you decide that you were ready for reintroductions? I was free of pain, fatigue, and brain fog.
- What foods have you been able to successfully reintroduce? Rice, beans, dairy, nuts, seeds, and some nightshades (tomatoes and peppers) .
- Which ones can you eat regularly and which ones just occasionally? I eat them all regularly.
- When food reintroductions failed, what were your symptoms? I learned that I can't eat eggs, potatoes, corn, soy, or gluten. Most of these resulted in joint pain in my hands and feet, but soy caused gut issues.
- Did any reintroduction failures later become successes? No.
- Have you reintroduced any non-paleo foods? Yes: rice, dried beans, and dairy.
- Is there any food you’d never reintroduce? No.
- Have you ever done an AIP reset (where you did the elimination phase over again)? I did one recently after the holiday season. I also go back to strict AIP when dealing with a flare. It seems to help reset my body.
- Are there any foods allowed on the AIP that you discovered you don’t tolerate? I already knew I couldn’t eat a few foods that were AIP: coconut and fish. Nothing else that I tried had any adverse effects.
- What was the hardest part for you about the reintroduction process? Dealing with feeling bad after a failed reintroduction. Now my body is more sensitive to foods, so if I accidentally eat something I shouldn’t, I can feel bad for days. Editorial note from Eileen: Many people wonder why this happens. Prior to doing the elimination phase of the paleo autoimmune protocol, our bodies are in a state of chronic inflammation, reacting to all of the intolerant foods we have been eating. When we go AIP and remove those foods, that inflammation starts to go away. Not only do we feel better, but we also now have a clear baseline to understand our body's signals. When a reintroduction “fails”, our body is letting us know that it's intolerant to that food. There is now nothing masking the effect, and the signal comes through loud and clear. While it's uncomfortable, it's also educational, because we can finally hear clearly what our body needs (and doesn't need), when it comes to diet.
- What’s your advice for people contemplating reintros, or just starting their own reintroduction journey? Go slow and listen to your body.
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