The elimination-phase of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) isn’t meant to last forever. The end goal is always to have the most diverse, nutrient dense way of eating possible. The purpose of elimination is to hit the “reset” button on your body. This process of eliminating any irritating or inflammatory foods combined with adding in nutrient-dense foods, supports healing and gives your body the chance to finally take a deep breath and start repairing itself! Think of it as wiping the slate clean.
To learn more about what the Autoimmune Protocol is, check out my post here.
Now, the reintroduction-phase is just as important and is often where confusion and frustration come in. If you’re anything like me, when given the “green light” your desire to just go full-throttle and never look back is strong. Basically, if you even think that eating chocolate is “allowed” then that quickly turns into eating an entire pan of brownies in 3 seconds flat. Sound familiar?
A slow & steady approach to reintroduction is crucial to creating a personalized AIP-template that promotes long-term healing instead of unpredictable flare ups. Where the elimination-phase is like hitting the “reset” button, think of reintroductions as the “detective phase.” Each food that was eliminated is tested in a specific order, starting with foods that are the most nutrient-dense and least likely to cause a reaction and moving toward foods that are least nutrient-dense and most likely to cause a reaction.
- Egg Yolks
- Legumes – only including beans with edible pods
- Legume sprouts
- Nut & Seed Oils
- Seed-based spices
- Fruit & berry-based spice
- Coffee – on an occasional basis
- Cocoa/ Chocolate
- Nuts & Seeds – whole, flours & butters, including cashews, pistachios, & chia seeds
- Alcohol – in small quantities
- Egg Whites
- Coffee – daily basis
- Nightshades – only eggplant, paprika, sweet peppers, peeled white potatoes
- Lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans
- Grass-fed dairy
- Nightshades – all remaining, including unpeeled white potato
- Alcohol – in larger quantities
- White rice
- Other gluten-free grains
- Other legumes
When Can I Start?
It is best to have spent 30-90 days of full-elimination in the maintenance phase AND have seen measurable improvement in symptoms based on food journaling and symptom tracking before attempting reintroductions. During reintroductions, you’ll basically be conducting a science experiment on yourself. So, in order to determine if you are reacting to a certain food, it is important that you have a solid, minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic baseline to judge reactions off of.
If you’ve reached 90 days of fully compliant elimination-phase AIP and you still haven’t seen any noticeable improvements, then that is a strong indication that you may need some help troubleshooting and determining if there are underlying issues that are confounding your healing. Click here to read more about troubleshooting and why’re you’re not getting better.
How Does it Work?
I’ll be honest, implementing the reintroduction-phase of AIP is very methodical and requires some work. It’s not difficult, but consistency is key!
- Select a food to reintroduce from the stages chart.
- Start with half a teaspoon or less and wait 15 minutes. If there are reactions, stop.
- If there are no reactions, eat one full teaspoon and wait 15 more minutes. If there are reactions, stop.
- If there are no reactions, eat one-and-a-half teaspoons and wait two–three hours. If there are reactions, do not go any further.
- If there are no reactions, eat a normal portion of the food and wait 3–7 days. Do not reintroduce any other foods and track reactions during this time. (Many reactions could indicate a potential food sensitivity, but the most obvious is a return of your autoimmune symptoms.)
- If there are no reactions different from your improved baseline after the AIP elimination phase, that food can be brought back into your diet and you can begin another reintroduction.
- Be aware that you may find a food is tolerated when you eat it occasionally, but not when eaten regularly.
Some Tips for Success
- Follow the procedure
- Only reintroduce one food at a time. Yes, this means focusing on one food every 2-3 days.
- Keep a detailed symptom and food journal
- Remember that this process can be reattempted after more healing has happened
What to Track
- The date and name of the food you’re attempting
- The time you ate the ½ teaspoon & any reactions
- The time you ate the full teaspoon & any reactions
- The time you ate 1 ½ teaspoons & any reactions
- Reactions on Day 2 & Day 3
- Your results
Reactions to Look Out For
Basically you want to be on the look out for anything out of the ordinary. So it’s important to continue paying attention to things like your sleep quality and mood as well as physical symptoms.
- Autoimmune-related symptoms
- Disrupted sleep
- Food cravings
- Skin abnormalities
- Digestive upset
- Aches and pains
- Mood changes
- Energy changes
- Allergy-like symptoms
- Runny nose/ post nasal drip