Week 1 Food Reintroduction Review Post Elemental Diet

Reintroducing food after 14 days on the elemental diet

Reintroducing food after 14 days of not eating a thing on the Elemental Diet is like combining Christmas Day, all the chocolate at Easter and the best birthday party at once for a child.  And yes, at 40 years old, I was just as excited as a child.

Prior to commencing the Elemental Diet, I had decided to do the GAPS Introduction Diet as a way to carefully reintroduce food, while also watching for any reactions.

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and has been commonly used for children and adults alike who are experiencing brain and psychological symptoms like autism and anxiety.  The Introduction Diet has a methodical approach to bringing back foods, testing each one before moving onto the next.  Keen to learn more about this diet? Check out my interview with Amy Milhany who is a GAPS Practitioner.


So, what did I eat?

I broke my fast with chicken broth. It was heavenly. Simply having a savoury flavour was such a welcome relief after the overly sweet Elemental Diet.

I spent the first-week eating soups. Given my gut had been on a vacation for 2 weeks, I wanted to ease it back into digesting food. By cooking then puréeing my food, I was doing a lot of the digestion work for it.

Over the coming days I added in 1 new vegetable at a time.  I started with puréed carrots, then added overcooked zucchini to my chicken soup. I listened to my body and chose vegetables I felt drawn to. Next was a fish broth, then pumpkin soup, then broccoli soup, then a red capsicum (pepper) soup, which I added cooked and shredded chicken to.

By the end of the week I was eating a beef soup, which was like a combination of a soup and a stew. I was testing out my gut with more solid pieces of food, and it did well with them.

Digestive and Motility Aids

It is recommended that people take digestive and supportive aids to help fire up the digestive tract after the Elemental Diet.  It is very easy to end up badly constipated as the food gets stuck, as the motility has slowed right down.

My protocol included digestive bitters, which were made up for me by my Naturopath in liquid herbs (and as they name suggests, they are BITTER!). Bitter tasting substances actually help to turn on the digestive system, so these are taken before a meal.

I took 1 Motility Activator capsule by Integrative Therapeutics at the end of each meal. I was previously using this to help me open my bowels every day, and it worked like a dream once again.

At bedtime, I took powdered magnesium, which helps to stimulate the large bowel and get you going to the toilet.

I also focussed on eating really slowly, chewing every single mouthful until it was complete mush in my mouth, and being present when I ate. I would sit down, focus on my food, have an internal mantra going about how healthy and nutritious it was and how it would be healing my body, and I avoided distractions like my phone or computer while eating.

Side Effects and Symptoms

I was really pleased with the way my body responded to my food reintroduction. The only digestive symptoms I had from the food was a bit of bloating after eating a second bowl of broccoli soup.  I had a bit of bloating and gas.

I did feel exhausted on the first two days. I could literally feel the cogs starting to turn again, and I hadn't appreciated just how much energy goes into digesting food. I took the time to rest when I needed to and was in bed early every night.

The main digestive symptoms I did experience were from the digestive bitters and magnesium.  I think both were too powerful for me in Week 1.  I have to be very careful with liquid herbs. They have the tendency to put me into a histamine flare. I realised I was getting a dull headache and heartburn after eating. I wasn't sure if it was the food or the bitters, so I stopped the bitters and those symptoms vanished. I haven't yet reintroduced them as I wanted to give my gut some more time to recover.

The other thing I experienced was diarrhoea for the first 5 days. As someone who is chronically constipated, this was a very unusual symptom for me. I suspected it was the nightly magnesium, so stopped it. Within a day, I was having perfectly formed poos! I haven't felt the need to reintroduce magnesium yet, as I have been able to go to the toilet every day since then.

"Take the time to reintroduce food after the Elemental Diet. Your gut has been on vacation. Let it slowly warm up to having to work again by supporting it with well cooked, puréed foods.

Rebecca Coomes

How Do I Feel Today?

In one word: AMAZING. My gut feels calm, I have so much energy, my brain feels clear (goodbye brain fog!), I have lost weight and kept it off, I'm sleeping well and feel like the inflammation in my body has calmed. I am glad I did the Elemental Diet. It was hard work but for such a short period of time, I have had fantastic results in my symptom reduction.

Next Steps

I will continue adding new foods into my diet and testing my reactions to foods that I'm not sure if I have a problem with, such as eggs and dairy (in the form of 24-hour yoghurt, homemade sour cream, butter and ghee).

I am happy to be strictly gluten-free for the moment and am uncertain if I will bring rice back into my diet anytime soon.

I will be re-testing for SIBO next week and will be undergoing blood tests to check the impact the Elemental Diet had on my inflammation and haemochromatosis. I look forward to sharing the results with you.

Key Tips For Food Reintroduction

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    Eat low fibre, easy to digest foods

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    Cook foods well and purée, mash or blitz to help your digestive system cope with food

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    Go slowly. Add 1 new food in at a time so you can test and measure your body's responses to these foods

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    If you have a reaction, come back to that food as your gut may not be ready for it

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    Use this time as an amazing opportunity to connect with your body

  • Herbal Leaves H1qygbnam

    Write down your daily experiences so you can refer back to them and see how far you have come

Rebecca Coomes The Healthy Gut SIBO Christmas Book 3d

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About The Author

15 thoughts on “Week 1 Food Reintroduction Review Post Elemental Diet”

  1. Hi Rebecca! I’m currently on day 5 of food reintroduction after doing the elemental diet for 2 weeks. I am having quite a lot of burping and a bit of gas. Is this normal?

    1. Rebecca Coomes

      It ‘can’ be but it depends on what is ‘normal’ for you. Please speak with your practitioner about this as they will know your health history in detail and can review what is happening.

  2. Hi Rebecca, would love your insight into two questions: (1) would you mind sharing what specific Naturopath bitters you used during re-introduction (and how much)? and (2) Did you use any other digestive enzymes and/or a prokinetic? (or just the bitters?) Thank you so much. This post is so helpful to my planning out of my elemental diet journey.

    1. Rebecca Coomes

      Hi Amanda
      I don’t know the exact blend. A simple solution is to steep ginger in water and drink a few teaspoons of it prior to eating (I also did this along with taking bitters). I’ve posted a lot about how I need to use prokinetics. You can check out this review I did on Motility Activator. I also do well on MotilPro.

  3. Hi Rebecca- How many days did you give yourself before adding chicken, and in about what quantity would you estimate? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Brianna
      I think I tried a small amount of chicken on Day 2 or Day 3 of my food reintroduction. It was probably a few tablespoons worth.

  4. Just wanted to say Rebecca, this article was so helpful to me whilst coming off the elemental diet. I’ve followed pretty much the same process and although the first few days were really hard, just over a week on and I’m transitioning well. As always your recipes and experience much appreciated!

  5. How much soup did you need to eat on that first day off elemental? Did you skim most of the fats off? Or is that alright? My concern is is there enough calories in the broth.

    1. I had a couple of bowls of broth that day. I was expecting to want/need to eat a lot more than I could actually fit in. Due to not eating solid food for 14 days, my stomach had shrunk so much so I was surprisingly very full after the broth. I didn’t skim the fat off – that’s the best bit! You can always supplement with ED if you need to keep your calories up. I was happy to lose excess weight during my ED experience.

      1. Did you have only those 2 bowls of chicken broth that first day, or did you still have some of the elemental shakes and just replace some with chicken broth? I’m wondering if I need to order more of the formula to slowly wean off of it that first week?

        1. Hi Stephanie
          It is advisable to have some extra ED on hand to be able to intermingle it with your broths/pureed foods as you begin your food reintroduction.

  6. Hi Rebecca! Thanks for sharing your story. I was thinking of doing the elemental diet. Did you get re-tested for SIBO after the elemental diet and if so, what were your results? Thanks!

    1. Hi,
      What did you put into your chicken broth on your first introduction day? Mine starts tomorrow and was going to do chicken and ginger.

      1. Rebecca Coomes

        On Day 1 I kept the broth plain. I strained everything out of it and ‘ate’ it like a clear broth. Even though there was nothing to chew, I still chewed each mouthful to help stimulate my gut and to ready it for non-ED food.

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