If you’re new here, my journey through the Autoimmune Protocol began on February 19, 2018. The elimination period of the Autoimmune Protocol lasts 30 days or until symptoms subside. My autoimmune disease is Type 1 Diabetes. I have never heard of a diabetic using the Autoimmune Protocol to manage Type 1 Diabetes. Since I’m forging my own trial (as far as I know!), I am documenting my results and journey here to help other Type 1 Diabetics who might be looking for alternative blood sugar management solutions. (Check out the first 5 weeks here (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5).) Today I will outline my plan for the Reintroduction Phase, and my 3 keys for a success!
The elimination period was not smooth sailing for me as weeks 3 and 4 were filled with sickness and a diet-busting meal at the beginning of week 3. Due to my sleep and routine being so thrown off, in addition to the sickness, I really couldn’t flesh out what was causing my higher blood sugar those weeks. At the time, I blamed my routine and sleep being thrown off, but now I am thinking the dinner out was as much the culprit. It could have been any one of those factor or all of them combined.
Thankfully, my blood sugar returned to normal range in weeks 5 and 6. Since I was past the 30 day mark, and I thought my blood sugar was leveled out. I decided to start the reintroduction phase.
Once the symptoms of the autoimmune disease have stopped, you can reintroduce some of the foods that were eliminated during the elimination phase. There is a best way to do this, and I wish I’d known this back when I first did an elimination diet in October 2017. Foods need to be introduced one at a time and symptoms monitored for 3 days to a week after eating before introducing another food. In my first attempt, I introduced the foods I missed the most first and only waited 2-3 days between introductions. I definitely rushed things.
Choosing which food to introduce first matters too. In the graphic above, the Reintroduction Phase is broken up into four stages. The food in stage 1 is the most likely to be accepted by an autoimmune impaired body, and stage 4 is the least likely to be accepted. Within each stage, it does not matter which food you try first, just pick one and keep the results as clean as possible.
How to Reintroduce a Food
I gathered most of my information on reintroducing foods from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach. I highly recommend that book if you are looking for answers to an autoimmune disease!
After selecting a food to reintroduce, eat only a small bite at first and wait 15 minutes for a severe reaction. At this point, you are checking for severe allergic reactions. If you’ve gone gluten-free before, you know your body can change its mind as to what foods it likes or doesn’t like!
If the first bite goes fine, then have a normal-sized bite then monitor symptoms for 2-3 hours. Again, this step is looking for severe adverse reactions. As long as those two bites go well, have a full serving of the food then monitor symptoms for 3 days to a week.
Keys to Success
Reintroducing foods and monitoring symptoms can add up to a lot of data/details, so carefully documentation and maintenance of diet and lifestyle are key. Here are 3 key tips to successfully reintroducing foods as a Type 1 Diabetic on the Autoimmune Protocol.
First of all, a food journal is essential. You will be documenting SO many things. It is impossible to keep each day straight let alone look for patterns over days, weeks, or months.
A food journal does not have to be anything fancy. Mine is a $.25 spiral bound notebook that goes on sale just before school starts each year. Dedicate an entire notebook to the journal; it will get filled up quicker than you think! Don’t rely on scrap pieces of paper, use full size paper so you have plenty of room to write everything out!
The food journal is the main reason I’ve been able to stick with the diet for so long and to figure out which foods are not agreeing with me. I tend to over-exaggerate my blood sugar levels over days/weeks. If things are not going well, I tend to negatively think I’ve been off for a week or more, when in reality it has only been a few days. It has been so important to have a written record so I can go back and see a clear picture of what really happened.
Make note of anything of consequence along with the major measures for your autoimmune disease. You won’t regret more detail when you go back to review the results. I have Type 1 Diabetes, so I monitor the following things:
- Fasting Blood Glucose
- Sleep notes
- Supplements taken
- Breakfast Food
- Pre-Lunch Blood Glucose
- Lunch Food
- Pre-Dinner Blood Glucose
- Dinner Food
- Pre-Bed Blood Glucose
Jotting down these things throughout each day was a game changer! There are SO many moving parts in one’s diet, and many lifestyle routines, habits, and choices make a difference in blood sugar level too. I’m so glad I went through the effort to keep this journal. It is helping me tremendously analyze my results.
Healthy habits like consistent sleep (8-9 hours), consistent bed and wake time, and exercise are vital for a healthy body. Keep these routines consistent throughout the reintroduction phase. You want as few variables as possible when trying new foods, so don’t let your lifestyle habits prevent a clear reading on how the food is affecting you.
As a Type 1 Diabetic, these are the healthy lifestyle habits I stick to every day:
- Wake up at 5:45am every day – even on the weekends!
- Time in God’s Word and prayer – beyond communicating with my Lord and keeping that relationship growing, I need His peace as I go through each day. This diet stresses me sometimes.
- Exercise – I do a Fitness Blender workout Monday through Saturday.
- Consistent mealtime – Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 12:30pm, and Dinner at 5:30
- Bed time at 10:00pm every day – even on the weekends!
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Since I am a Type 1 Diabetic, blood glucose or blood sugar is my primary indicator if a food is agreeing with my body or not. I test four times a day: fasting or first thing in the morning, before lunch, before dinner, and before bed. My goals for each of those times are as follows:
- Fasting – less than 130
- Pre-lunch – less than 130
- Pre-dinner – less than 130
- Bed time – between 100 and 150
For my non-diabetic readers, a non-diabetic’s blood sugar level is around 100.
Measurement of Results
The plan for the near future is to reintroduce one item from phase 1 then watch my blood sugar for 3-7 days and make note of any spikes. My criteria for a successful reintroduction as a Type 1 Diabetic:
- Fasting Blood Glucose less than 150 – This is the biggest indicator that a food has irritated my gut. If I wake up in the morning with a blood sugar higher than 150, that’s when I know my body is off track. I wish I was consistently under 130, but it doesn’t look like that will happen (dawn phenomenon? Not sure…).
- Pre-Lunch Blood Glucose less than 120 – My normal pre-lunch blood glucose is usually around 100-120, so if it is above that (even if still less than the accepted 130) I know my body is not tolerating that food well.
- Body tremors – I have doubts that any food besides gluten will do this, but if I’ve ingested gluten, I get the shakes three days later. It feels like the organs inside my rib cage are shaking. I do not do anything to treat this symptom. Although it feels bad, it goes away in a day, and it has happened enough times that I know it is only a sign of gluten exposure.
My plan for the Reintroduction Phase of the Autoimmune Protocol is to choose one food at a time, wait 3-7 days between new foods, document my results in my food journal, and keep my health lifestyle going every day. I am hopeful with careful analysis and cooking to be able to reintroduce foods that I’ve been without these past weeks! Egg yolks is first up on my list, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!