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Differences between adjustment to paleo and testing/reintroducing old foods


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I've just finished the Whole30 (although I've been doing primal/paleo for about 12 years), and I have a pretty basic question about reintroduction.


We expect folks to go through 8 or 9 days of pretty unpleasant symptoms when they first do Whole30 or strict paleo, as their bodies adjust to new metabolic pathways and detox. 


But when we reintroduce old foods after Whole30, how do we know the difference between

1) the need to adjust to fine foods that have just been eliminated for 30 days (ie, similar to the paleo adjustment)


2) a reaction to food sensitivities which should be interpreted as: stay away from those foods forever!


So, for example, after 12 years of fairly low starch paleo, when I added sweet potatoes in, they made me very sleepy and sluggish. But I figured that was my body adjusting, so I ate a little bit each night (when I wanted to be sleepy).


But now, after Whole30, if we have a similar reaction to any food that we reintroduce, it seems that we interpret that as a food sensitivity, indicating we should avoid those foods as much as possible.


How do we tell the difference? I've avoided gluten for 12 years, because when I first added a little back in 11 years and 11 months ago (after a month without it), I had brutal symptoms. So I figured, and my doctor agreed: gluten insensitivity! Because I'm happy to go a lifetime without gluten, I haven't questioned that verdict. But maybe I was wrong? 

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Gluten and to some extent other grains and legumes irritate anyone's gut. The mucosal lining of the stomach that grows thick to deal with this irritation thins out over 30 days, so it is true that people may feel some irritation they never felt before. However, a person with real sensitivity gets a more painful response that is a reliable message from the body that there is a problem. And it is somewhat consistent. I can eat bread without consequence some days, but I have trouble on other days. I interpret this to mean that I have a mild sensitivity to gluten.


A 30 day elimination period is different than a multi-month, multi-year elimination. Gut bacteria required to handle the eliminated foods would not be absent after just 30 days, but they might be mostly gone after a longer period and cause some issues until they grow back. 

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Thanks--so you don't need to give a full 2 week testing period for each reintroduced food, (as you did to adjust to the initial paleo switch), because 30 days of elimination isn't enough time to loose the enzymes and gut bacteria needed to digest foods? Sounds reasonable, if I'm understanding correctly.

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This article by Sarah Ballantyne might be helpful - she talks about how "healthy" people should be able to heal in 30 days but that many people take longer.  


Sometimes with more time people can eat the problematic foods again, sometimes they can eat them regularly, sometimes they can tolerate small amounts occasionally, and sometimes they can never tolerate it...




Her approach to reintroduction is more specific than the W30 one (where they allow a whole class of foods tested together) - she recommends testing food by food.  But some recommend a staged exposure to one food, then if no serious reactions doing a one-week test of daily consumption and evaluating that as well.  I've chosen to do Ballantyne's approach, at least with the foods I am pretty sure will be ok.  I might do the more in-depth tolerance testing for foods I'm more suspect of (some kinds of dairy...). 

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