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Paleo Reintroductions

WHAT ARE REINTRODUCTIONS?

As Paleo isn’t designed as an elimination diet (unlike the Autoimmune Paleo diet), it isn’t quite accurate to discuss “Paleo Reintroductions”.

However, at Paleo in the UK our focus is on creating a resource which can help people access everything to do with Paleo at a level and to the extent that suits them.

If you are experiencing illness or poor health and are looking to shift your lifestyle into a Paleo template then your motivation and end result may look very different to someone who simply wants to eat less processed food.

We would always recommend at least a period of 30 days on the basic Paleo template. Whilst there’s no real science behind this length of time biologically, it’s a convenient length of time for many and will provide many of the benefits.

After this period there will be certain foods which were eliminated initially which may be reintroduced to the diet to see if they really affect your personal health adversely or whether you can still feel good and remain healthy whilst consuming them.

These foods may be dose-dependent, i.e. they are OK up to a certain quantity.  They may also be tolerated well providing there are no other stresses in your life which are contributing to an overall stress burden. For more on how this stress piece will impact your health and ability to tolerate potentially inflammatory foods, see our  Lifestyle section.

The foods you may wish to experiment with are listed below, along with a guide to the process of reintroductions and an overview of what to look out for.

For a really deep dive into the science of the immune system and how this Elimination-Reintroduction process is so successful and insightful, please do foray into our Autoimmune Paleo area.

WHAT ARE THE REACTIONS YOU MUST WATCH FOR?

Obviously if you notice any overt digestive symptoms which cannot possibly be attributed to any other cause then this is a red flag to you that this food is not healthful for your body.

But it’s more subtle than that – and the following is just a small list of what might crop up:

 

SKIN

Acne, rashes, hives, skin swelling and/or inexplicable irritation, itching, dryness, eczema or spots – anywhere on your body

 

CONGESTION & IRRITATIONS

Phlegm and coughs, nose irritations, eye soreness and redness

 

BOWEL DISTURBANCES

Either immediately or the next day – either rushing or feeling ‘bunged up’ more than normal, along with any other digestive swelling, bloating, distention, indigestion and/or abnormal motility

 

MENTAL SYMPTOMS

Brain fog, word forgetfulness, inability to think in straight lines or logically, confusion, disorientation or feeling ‘unlike yourself’.  Also – heightened anxiety for no real reason and/or depression and flatness of mood (known as ‘flat affect’) which leaves you feeling ‘heavy’, ‘lethargic’ or ‘disinterested’ (also known as anhedonia)

Conversely: manic-ness, feeling hyper, enraged and quick to anger, unable to regulate emotions or behaviour, excessively violent or vitriolic and being more ‘short-tempered’ than usual (please use this guideline with common sense – we all have days where our fuse is short and tiredness, hormones and stress all play into this one. This is more of a guideline to judge reactivity in children when they seem to lack inhibition after exposure to something their immune system cannot detoxify).

 

SLEEP DYSREGULATION

Another one to be wary about reading too much into but sleep is also an important marker.  Sleep is tightly regulated by hormones which are closely controlled by the immune reactions and can be disturbed by food choices. What is classed as unusual?  Anything that is different for you – wide awake and unable to sleep? waking up with a start in the early morning hours if you’re not someone who normally does so? frequent urination keeping you up all night? and much  more – all of this can be an indicator that your body didn’t deal well with the food you attempted to reintroduce.

Want all of this information in a handy e-book / PDF guide? Just fill in your email to have the full Paleo Diet Ins/Outs & Reintroductions Guide emailed straight to your inbox:
 

SUGGESTED ORDER OF REINTRODUCTIONS

You MUST do this one at a time. You cannot learn anything by introducing too many variables into the picture. As we’re sticking to whole foods (you’re still following an overall Paleo template, after all) it isn’t actually too difficult to reintroduce isolated items. Our recommended order is as follows, but in truth it sometimes comes down to reintroducing either the foods that you miss most first, OR (and this often is a good plan), reintroducing early the foods that are going to make the most overall difference to the variety of your diet or your ease of maintaining the dietary style you’ve chosen whilst still enabling you to feel healthy.

1: GREEN BEANS & SUGAR SNAPS

Often not even eliminated for 30 days, these are strictly speaking legumes but are really just a vegetable that are mostly well digested - particularly when cooked. If you have eliminated them and want to try bringing them back in just add a couple into the rest of your cooked veggies cooked. After a successful trial like this you can trial them raw, which might have slightly different results. With these, as they are legumes, you're watching out mostly for digestive and/or joint issues.

2: WHITE RICE

If you've read about Rice in our 'Grey Area' section you will know that it can be really quite contentious in the Paleosphere. However, it must be acknowledged that some people get on famously by adding rice back into their diet and it becomes a really useful carbohydrate source and something to help mop-up the juices of lovely meat-rich dishes. We recommend white rice because this has the husk and outer anti-nutrients largely removed. One area where processing confers a benefit! To try incorporating rice back into your lifestyle, simply have a small portion of well washed, cooked, drained and fluffed white rice (small fist size) with no other ‘new’ foods. Anything - from digestion to brain fog - can be a symptom of poor tolerability of this grain. Because you’re looking at it from a digestion point of view AND from the perspective of cross-reactivity to gluten, be mindful of symptoms both immediately (i.e. within a few hours) and also over the next couple of days. You can gradually increase the quantity of rice consumed over 3 days consecutively. If you are noticing nothing, it is safe to assume that you are OK with rice. Long term - rotate rice in and out of your diet. It is a refined grain and therefore not a nutrient-dense carbohydrate. There are far more ‘bang-for-your-buck’ carbs out there, but this is definitely a great option if you can tolerate it.

3: COFFEE

Officially in the “Foods That Are Out” section, and yet coffee has some wonderful health benefits which can be found on our “All About Coffee” page (linked from this section's title). This is one of those foods that is even more highly personalised in terms of tolerability. If you are dealing with any health complications whatsoever - from disrupted sleep to exhaustion, excess stress, digestive discomfort, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, heart issues and/or anything that needs to be further resolved by doing work OTHER than just going on a Paleo diet then our advice is to wait, wait, wait to reintroduce coffee. Whilst everything that you put into your body is having a chemical impact, coffee is a very profound and direct hormonally active substance which will affect your ability to do other healing. Its role raising cortisol really does have lasting effects so please exercise caution when reintroducing. If you have any digestive issues, our advice is to work to heal these prior to reintroduction of coffee. But how to reintroduce when you choose to? Have a small, relatively weak cup in the morning, black - with no more throughout the day. If you only notice positive effects and no negative side effects, no increased stress and no excessive hyper-alertness then you can gradually take a stronger cup. We would advise you don’t resort to a dependency habit though. Coffee is addictive and whilst some people choose to use coffee as a crutch, such a strong chemical has the power to confuse your sense of your body's own energy levels. This can create metabolic and hormonal dysregulation but also lead to over-extending yourself: not ideal when attempting to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

4: FULL FAT, GRASS-FED DAIRY - BUTTER

If you are doing great with ghee (one of our Superfoods) it might be that you want to try some grass-fed butter. Obviously the best way to do this is to buy a decent brand, such as Kerrygold, and the first recommendation we would have is to put some on your vegetables instead of whatever oil you have been using. Use a small amount one meal and watch for digestive upset both after that meal and the next morning. Additionally, with dairy, key areas seem to be increased congestion and mucus, and then impacts on the skin - everything from acne and rosacea to small pimples on the backs of your arms known as keratosis pilaris.

5: FULL FAT DAIRY - CREAM, CHEESE & YOGHURT

As we move further through the dairy reintroductions what we are doing is slowly increasing the ratio of dairy proteins to dairy fat. As our reactions to dairy are mostly to proteins (or sugars, not present in butter, or hormones/antibiotics - for which read more in the All About Dairy page linked from this section's title). If you have reacted already to ghee or butter - DO NOT proceed to add in any other forms of dairy. However, if all dairy reintroductions thus far have gone well, this is where double cream (called ‘heavy cream’ in the US), cheese and yoghurts can come in. Obviously grass-fed, organic sources, preferably using raw milk. Commercial milk is homogenised and pasteurised - i.e. excessively processed - before it is used in store-bought yoghurts, cream and cheeses. You would be wise NOT to reintroduce using conventional dairy - and do read the “All About Dairy” page for why. If you’ve sourced some organic, raw, unpasteurised cream, yoghurt - and even cheese - then the way to introduce this is not all at once! Have a small amount of double cream one day, increasing it slightly for two consecutive days. Once you are clear there are no reactions you can start on a hard cheese (not soft or blue) or yoghurt - whichever you would prefer. Again, start small and slowly increase on three consecutive days. With yoghurt, if you can make your own at home - do so! It is easy and will be better for you and more controllable. Start with a tiny portion and build up to a normal one over three or more days. If - at any time - with any dairy you experience a reaction: STOP. If you got stopped at either cheese or yoghurt leave it for a week to settle and then try the other - see if there is a difference with the inherent bacteria in these two products. Our recommendation would be to remove ALL DAIRY, with the exception of ghee, from your diet after a reaction - for at least 3-4 days. You can then slowly add back in what you were tolerating well previously, but we wouldn’t recommend trialling the substance which caused the reaction for another few months.

6: ALCOHOL

If you've read “All About Alcohol” (linked from this section's title) and you’ve also checked out why we believe this is a “Grey Area Food” and not a flat-out exclusion then you may be interested in how to bring alcohol into your life again. Firstly, gluten-based or grain-based drinks that retain some of the grain, such as beers and ales, are completely eliminated, at least initially. If you do decide to reintroduce grains at any point, start with the grain itself - and not the alcohol which it is used to create. Grain-derived spirits are fine for some and not for others - whether you are someone who can tolerate them will have to be judged by you. Our recommendation is to start with clear spirits - vodka, tequila (100% agave, white), white rum and potentially gin, though watch for overpowering, herbal botanicals. Drink these over ice or with unflavoured soda water and a wedge of lemon or lime. Start small and slow. If you are tolerating alcohol in this way then you can progress onto harder liquors, such as whisky and bourbon - though we at Paleo in the UK know that some who are grain-sensitive are sensitive to these spirits. You can, eventually, progress on to wines - but organic, sulphite-free, process-lite wines are the way to go. There are US companies which are now producing and supplying such wines. We here at Paleo in the UK are not, at the time of writing, totally clear on whether we can access some decent equivalents in the UK. Our farming, spraying and production processes are far different (far more regulated) than in the US and we are in the process of establishing whether the local/English vineyards are practicing ‘clean’ wine productions and/or whether the French wines which are easily purchasable here are of merit in this regard. We will update our 'Paleo Resources' when we know more!!!

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.