Sugar Free Me – Reintroduction

For those of you who have been following my Sugar-Free series, I started reintroducing some of the questionable foods into my diet on January 22nd.

It ended up being a pretty long and stressful part of the process. The Guide recommends ditching the gluten-containing grains, but since I was trying to find out my headache triggers, I added back everything – just to be sure.

During the last week of the actual detox phase, I created a reintroduction calendar that would test out dairy, gluten-containing grains, legumes, caffeine, and Shakeology.

How does it work?

The first day (Monday), I ate according to my clean eating plan with the addition of dairy at all three of my main meals. Then went back to clean eating for two days. On Thursday I added gluten to all three meals. Then went back to clean eating for two days. And repeated this cycle until all of the food groups were reintroduced.

Allowing for some in-between time helps identify any triggers that might not have immediate reactions.

Dairy…is the devil

I was really looking forward to my breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, and the addition of cheese with lunch and dinner, but after I ate my first meal, it felt like someone was trying to knot my intestines together. Oh, the pain.

I swear there is cottage cheese under all those berries!

I tried a little mozzarella with lunch, but the bloating and twisting returned. I melted a little Monterey Jack on my burger for dinner, and, fortunately, that didn’t seem to be too rough.

It looks like, for the most part, I will be avoiding dairy or looking into lactose-free alternatives. Of course, there is always the last resort Lactaid that I will bring with me on vacation – just in case!

Other than the stomach pain, I found no correlation to headaches.

Gluten…doesn’t seem to be a threat

I can’t tell you how excited I was to reintroduce this. I’m Italian, so I literally grew up with a chunk of bread in each hand. I know it’s just food, but I would probably be heartbroken if I couldn’t indulge in my favorite doughy treats – zeppole, pizza (sans cheese), and gnocchi – every once in a while.

Isn’t this a beauty?

I ate a jumbo lemon poppy seed muffin with breakfast, half a sandwich from Panera for lunch, and a burger from Five Guys for dinner. And…nothing happened. No bloating, itching, or pain, and my headache seemed to remain the same that day. The next day, it was less intense. Go figure.

Legumes…aren’t all bad

Before I became more familiar with the different food groups through research, I had no idea what legumes were. The most obvious are peanuts, peas, beans, and soy.

Sushi rolls and miso soup were the first items on my list to try. I love both of these, so I was pretty ecstatic when I didn’t sense any type of reaction from the foods. I think coconut aminos are wonderful and all, but my wallet tends to disagree.

From the Fixate cookbook.

I haven’t had PB in a really long time, so I decided to add that back into my diet as well. I quickly learned that was a mistake when I experienced sharp pains in my intestines and head. Just to be sure, I stretched out Legume Test Day into the following day. And, yes, to confirm – peanuts are a no go.

Over the course of the detox I learned that almonds give me hives, so I’ll be sticking to sunbutter or cashew butter for now.

Caffeine…is just fine

Almost everything I’ve read about headaches cites caffeine as a culprit. Now, I’m not a coffee fiend, nor do I rely on caffeine to get me through the day, but I do enjoy some caffeinated things once in a while.

Pre-detox I started my intense workout days with Energize, a Beachbody Performance caffeinated energy drink. I’ve found that I burn about 10% more calories when drinking it.

After about a month without “treats,” this actually wasn’t very satisfying.

Some of my favorite mocha, chocolate, and cafe latte shakes include caffeine.

Then there are brownies, chocolate chip pancakes, RX Bars – you name it. So, it would be a little disappointing to be anti-caffeine.

Today I had one serving of Energize, a cup of green tea (ahhh matcha!), and a mint chocolate RX Bar. Easy does it. No reaction.


The last item I introduced were shakes. I love Shakeology and Vega – they both make quick on the go meals and awesome emergency food when you are out and about. I even brought Shakeology on a road trip to Canada!

My favorite blueberry blend. Just realized how much blue is actually in this photo!

I blended vanilla Shakeology with blueberries, raw honey, oats, and a scoop of collagen peptides. I only drank about half of it before heading into a 5.5-hour meeting (no, that isn’t a typo).

I ended up having a slight headache that evening, and the next two days it was more intense. I’m not sure if the culprit was the shake, the lack of a full breakfast, the stress associated with work, or the fact that mother nature will be visiting me this week (sorry guys!).

So this one stands unknown for the time being – I’ll try shakes again after my headache fizzles out.


The bottom line: The reintroduction period was an important part of the overall program. It’s helpful to be in tune with your body and know how certain foods affect you. However, because I noticed that I’m reacting to some foods (e.g., peanuts and almonds) that have always been okay to eat, I decided to see an allergist and have some confirmation testing done. I believe there is a place for both holistic and conventional medicine, and would like to see if there are any underlying causes for my allergies and reactions. The appointment is scheduled for February 15th and you know I’ll follow-up!

To find out more about the 21-Day Sugar Detox, click here. Then check out my week one, week two, and week three updates!

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