OK, so… I’m not quite sure how to write this post. Reintroductions were … hard? Frustrating? Really, really disappointing? Yes, they were all those things, and also very, very eye-opening. April’s health project was reintroductions. I actually started in late March, and the process is still ongoing, but after working on movement and sleep in the two previous months, I felt like I was in a good place to get started on some initial reintroduction attempts.
The short version is this: coffee is back (with caveats), ghee is back, eggs are surprisingly and frustratingly a no-go, and seed-based spices are a maybe. Maybe as in, I need to wait a couple weeks and re-test them. Also: sugar is bad, bad news. My advice is if you want to do reintroductions, keep your sugar intake (from any source, including honey, maple syrup, etc.) consistently low, or the sugar might completely derail your efforts to reintroduce other foods.
The longer version, according to food:
Coffee. I reintroduced this first because I was having consistent, almost chronic, problems with constipation, and at some point I decided it was worth the risk of reintroducing coffee to avoid resorting to OTC laxatives. It did the trick, and I seem to do well with it as long as I avoid drinking it first thing in the morning (I start with tea or water and move on to coffee a bit later), limit it to one cup, and eat at least a little something with it. If I have more coffee than that, even if its decaf, I get jittery in the short term and more tense and anxious in the medium term. Once I feel my digestion/elimination is reliably back on track, I will probably try to cut back on coffee again as a preventative measure to avoid it messing with my adrenals again.
Ghee. Reintroduced with no issues at all. Yay!
Eggs. I’m so upset that I wasn’t able to reintroduce eggs that I almost don’t want to write about it. I tried egg yolks first, and they seemed fine. Trouble is, I discovered that I don’t actually like things that use only the yolks: the texture of egg-yolk scrambles completely grossed me out; mayo without mustard (another AIP reintro) tastes funny; I’ve always hated hollandaise sauce with a fiery passion; poached egg yolks are even worse than the scrambles. The only exception is egg nog, but I haven’t quite been able to get myself to make it in May. Anyway, after reintroducing yolks, I tried whole eggs. They seemed fine, too. So then I went on to having some eggs every day to see if I can eat them more than occasionally. On the 4th day, I noticed I was feeling pretty tired, and I wasn’t sure if it was the eggs or something else in my life (more on that later), but I decided to stop eating them. Then, about a week later, I was out of all my usual breakfast meat options and decided to have an omelette for breakfast. Within an hour, I felt tired, weak, and had some noticeable brain fog. Then, maddeningly, that effect lingered for almost 2 WEEKS. So far, I don’t have a theory as to why eggs seemed fine at first, only to set me back so dramatically just a little while later, but whatever the case, no huevos for me for now.
Detour: sugar. While I was riding out the aftermath of the eggs, I celebrated my birthday. I made a fully AIP-compliant cake sweetened only with honey and dates. It was delicious. It was gorgeous. Everyone liked it, including my picky kids and a variety of non-Paleo friends. But. Ohmygodthesugar. My body completely rebelled when I gave it sugar. It caused heart palpitations, neuropathy in my legs and dimming vision in one eye. And it lasted for DAYS. At this point, I started getting SO FRUSTRATED that all this reintroduction stuff was taking SO DAMN LONG and not going nearly as well as I had hoped. There was a lot of temptation to throw up my hands and start eating everything. Reminding myself that it would take much, much longer to do any successful reintroductions if I gave in to that temptation was the only thing that kept me on track.
Seed-based spices. Once I felt recovered from both the eggs and the sugar, I tried making chicken with a sauce that included some mustard. I had no immediate issues, but I started feeling run-down and achy in the days that followed. This could have been a reaction, but some really stressful shit went down on those days where I felt terrible, and I’m inclined to think that my symptoms had more to do with the stress than the mustard. But the maddening thing is, I simply do not know. So I think the best course of action is to wait a couple weeks and try again, while hoping that life does not happen with a vengeance right when I’m trying to do a reintroduction.
Which brings me to the thing about reintroductions that is, by far, the most frustrating for me: I don’t live in a lab, and that means no experiment is truly controlled. It’s a good idea to reintroduce a food when you’re feeling good, when you’re getting good sleep, when you don’t have inordinate amounts of stress in your life. But you can’t know for sure that life won’t throw you a curve ball the day after you eat something for the first time. So if you eat food X today and tomorrow you get some really bad news and end up sleeping badly that night, how do you know if it was the food or the bad news? If you can’t sleep because you’re ruminating about the bad thing, that’s probably a giveaway, but what if your sleep is just restless? If you get a migraine after reintroducing a food, but the weather also suddenly changed and changing weather sometimes triggers migraines but not always, how do you know whether the food had an effect? This stuff drives me BONKERS. And since I cannot conceivably control all the variables that affect my disease-related symptoms, I can tell that this whole reintroduction thing is going to be a long, long process. So when I said that it’s been eye-opening, I not only mean that I was surprised to find that I reacted to eggs, but also that the process so far has shown me just how complex our bodies are and that it is incredibly hard to nail down cause and effect.
So what’s next? First up, I’m going to try seed-based spices again. If they cause no reaction, I will move on to seeds, and maybe I’ll make some mayo to see if egg yolks are, in fact, OK. If I do react, I’ll probably stop there for a while and wait at least a few months before I try anything else. I’m trying to feel OK about that possibility, but I’m not really there yet. I realize now that subconsciously, I had a timeline in my head for when I would be able to eat certain foods again, and the fact that reality is not adhering to that timeline is causing me more frustration than I had anticipated.