Don’t do what I did the first time I did the Indigo30, which was not TRULY learning about the re-introduction a few days before the final day. All I could think about was BEING DONE. And I can even remember being a little defiant about doing the reintroduction all together, like, “Nah, I don’t really need to do it properly, I will figure it out.” I do remember having the WORST STOMACH ACHE EVER on Day 31 after eating some quinoa. But that morning I also had cream in my coffee. And I had a glass of wine on the night of Day 29. (Bad cheating! I was such a rogue.) So even though I thought it was the quinoa, it could have been any of the three. But I didn’t really know because I mashed them all together in a 12-hour period.
After 3 years of studying the Whole30, I still have to give myself the constant reminder that the Whole30 is a dietary reset, intended to help us figure out what foods affect our digestion, energy, sleep, mood, focus, cravings, athletic performance, and symptoms of a medical condition — negatively. “Careful, systematic reintroduction is the key to identifying which specific foods aren’t okay for you (and the effects they have on your body and brain),” encourages the Hartwigs in Whole30. So do NOT skip, blow off, rush through, modify or forget about this step. You guys, if you skip the re-introduction, it’s like getting to the end of the race but never crossing the actual finish line. It’s like I tell my teachers in training — you must complete your last assignment, or I can’t give you your certificate. Why put in ALL this work and not get what you came for?
“Reintroduction is actually a lifelong process. The more you pay attention to how you look, feel, perform and live after eating certain foods, the more you will notice their subtle effects. For some, gluten makes them sad. For others, dairy makes them break out — but not until two or three days after the exposure.” I can remember an esthetician once told me that the sugar that I eat now will show up as a breakout on my face or back 30 days later. I was like, OMG. NOOOOO!! I don’t even know if that’s actually true but it was enough to make me not want to eat sugar because it felt like a horrible forever-kind-of cycle. I can’t remember what I ate a month ago! But now it’s a huge, angry cyst on my chin. Yuck.
I can promise you this, if I can’t promise you anything else on this program. If you blow off your yoga and you decide to celebrate with pasta and wine or beer and pizza followed by a bowl of ice cream and a night-cap, Day 32 is going to be hell. You will feel like you have been lawn-mowed. Your Sugar Dragon will reawaken with a vengeance, you will have zero energy and your trips to the bathroom will be frequent and uncomfortable. And you really won’t know why.
There are two ways to work the Reintroduction: the Fast Track and the Slow Roll.
The Indigo30 Fast Track
The Fast Track is the complete reintroduction protocol in ten days. This is for folks who know exactly what they have been missing and want to figure out quickly if these foods negatively impact them. You are going to keep up with your yoga schedule because you know how to safely pace and modify and when to back off a little (in class) but you love how you feel and you need the discipline of coming every day. If you feel satisfied with the results of the Indigo30, are a Type-A, structured type person, then the I30 Fast Track option is for you. This plan is also the best route for someone who undeniably lives with food allergies and is not certain what is causing so much genuine and life-altering upset.
The basic timeline of the Indigo30 Fast Track is as follows:
DAY 1 (optional): Keep your entire diet Whole30 compliant while evaluating a gluten-free alcohol. The best options are a gluten-free, low-sulfite red wine (Fit Vine is fantastic, as is Scout & Cellar. Both wines are free of residual sugar which makes them so much better to drink, of course in moderate quantity, after this program) 100% agave tequila or gluten-free beer. This is the day to re-introduce it but don’t go overboard. Then, go back to Whole30 for the next two days and see how you feel. Alcohol is a major part of social life, and, you have done just fine without it for 30 days. Take a little time to determine how, how often, how much — if at all — you really need it in your lifestyle.
DAY 1 (OR 4): Evaluate legumes while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. I caution against a big bowl of beans — you know why. You could try some peanut butter or some miso soup. After this day, go back to Whole30 for the next two days.
DAY 4 (OR 7): Evaluate non-gluten grains (corn, brown or white rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.) while keeping the rest of your diet W30-compliant. Oatmeal, white rice, tortilla chips, gluten-free bread… (I know all you saw just now was TORTILLA CHIPS). After this day, return to W30 for the next two days. Pay attention. You are getting all the intel you need during this time about what truly works and what doesn’t.
NOTE: You may experience a moment of loss or sadness when you come to the realization that some of your most favorite foods truly, after all, simply don’t work for your body — like at all, not just for 30 days. Dude, I get it. It’s a bummer. And… it’s not. It’s just food. It’s not a loss of life or loss of a pet or loss of a relationship. It’s the loss of a routine and a reward that you created by no deliberate fault of your own at some point in time and found enjoyable. Be present with the irrationality of feeling loss and depression over tortilla chips. Then, take a deep breath, shake it off, and get to your yoga mat.
DAY 10 (OR 13): Test run gluten-containing grains (any product made from wheat, rye or barley-bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, beer, etc.) — and of course keep the rest of your diet W30 clean. You could go with a muffin or some whole-grain bread, maybe some wheat crackers or a beer. Only do a bowl of cereal if you can use a nut-milk over it.
COMPLETION: Now you know. Your reintroduction is over, and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. If drinking alcohol gave you a splitting headache, if yogurt made your bowels blow, or bread made you break out like a teen, only you can make the call about if it was worth it… and it may be! And that’s okay! The win here is that you now know going in how it will affect you. And I would put money on the notion that you probably won’t indulge as much as you think you will anyway. Pretty great for just 30 days of work after a lifetime of wily ways.
The Indigo30 Slow Roll
The Slow Roll doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The entire idea is to just carry on eating Whole30 and doing your yoga until something comes along that causes you to have to make some new choices. Is it a special treat at a party? Is it a weekend vacation to the beach where your yoga happens as napping on a beach chair with a magazine?
What’s great about the Slow Roll is that you get to continue the momentum you’ve built, living symptom-free and energized as long as you stick predominately to the plan. Another huge bonus that you may not have even realized is that when you do choose to reintroduce food that you think is the greatest, most irresistible thing ever, you’ll savor it more. You won’t be bringing a large amount back in at any given time, so it’s likely that the side effects won’t be as severe or last as long as they might if you are really going for it like you do on the Fast Track.
This option is for the person who has already done the Indigo30 before and has a really good sense of what foods do not work for them. It’s possible that you may want to Fast Track to see if anything has changed — we know this is possible as we age — that we can’t tolerate things quite like we used to be able to (alcohol!) This option is also for the person who doesn’t have really severe food allergies and doesn’t need super definitive answers. However, the Slow Roll isn’t just for ten days — this is basically your new normal from here on out. (In a couple of days, I will talk to you about my other approach, the “Paleo5,” which is another option after you ease out of the Slow Roll.)
As far as your yoga goes, I encourage you to take Day 31 completely off. Like, I don’t even want to see your smiling, triumphant face on Day 31. TAKE DESERVED, NEEDED REST. And on Day 32, get back on your mat, and allow yourself to determine how much yoga is truly best for you, your body, your schedule and your goals/purpose. I will always and forever tell a practiced yogi that 5 days a week is your standard, with one of those days devoted to a restorative practice, especially if you incorporate other workouts into your regimen. My only caveat here is that the routine — the ritual — for some of you, really helps keep you on the rails. And what a positive, glorious ritual it is! So keep going. Just keep going wisely. Hydrate often. Eat enough – nourish with good carbohydrate and good fat. Back off every now and then so your body can heal and therefore get stronger. Do not ever push past reasonable limits. There is no direction ANYWHERE in any of the ancient teachings that says “push harder” or “if you’re not killing yourself you are not working hard enough.” No, no, no. Oh my gosh — NO. This idea is so not what was intended by the great masters. The ancient text, the Yoga Sutras, interestingly enough, only says one thing about the physical practice of asana: Sthira Suhkam Asanam. It means a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.
Straight from the Whole30 book is “One Slow Roll Consideration.”
“There is one way to keep your daily diet feeling more sustainable without jeopardizing your Tiger Blood. To give yourself a little breathing room on this stretched-out reintroduction schedule, consider relaxing on the Whole30 “no added sugar” rule come Day 31.
HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD!
… This doesn’t mean you’re eating frosting washed down with energy drinks (gross) but if you want sugar-cured bacon with your eggs, ketchup on your burger, or the vinaigrette dressing the comes with your restaurant salad, go right ahead. Note that we’re not actually changing your diet much here — you were already eating meat, condiments, and salads on the Whole30. We’re just broadening your choices a bit, in a way that won’t send you running for the nearest donut shop. Of course, if there are some foods you suspect (or know) will be ‘triggers’ for your Sugar Dragon, stay away! Sweetened nut butters or coconut butters, dark chocolate, or coffee creamers may send you hurtling down the path of cravings and overconsumption.”
I feel so happy that you now have a good path for when you’re on your own. I am feeling suddenly like an empty nester. (sniffle) I am excited for you and know you will crush it, no matter what comes your way. I feel confident that you will be able to decide, for yourself and in your heart, what is “worth it.” I do want to warn you though, and the book will tell you this as well, that your definition of “worth it” on Day 31 may loosen as time goes on. The discipline is to always and forever assess what is worth it as if you were on Day 15. Sometimes, as with so many things, the idea of a certain food is better than the actuality of it.
Be strong. Make informed decisions. And as always, keep going.