#1: Careful With Your Gut!
You’ve spent 30 days away from all the gut-irritating anti-nutrients you were eating before. Don’t think for a second that you can reintroduce any of those foods without consequences. Because your gut has healed from all the damage you’ve done to it, you may find that you are more sensitive to gluten, dairy or sugar. But at the same time, because you’ve reduced your systemic inflammation, the actual reactions may be less severe. I’ve definitely noticed a huge reduction in my lactose intolerance, but I’m still fairly insulin resistant, so sugar messes me up. You’ll have to figure out on your own what foods are triggers for you.
Which brings us to…
#2: Play Detective
Only you can figure out what foods make you sick. And while I encourage you continue to stay away from all grains, legumes and sugars, you may find that you’re ok with a little dairy in your life. Take careful note of how you feel after eating non-Paleo foods, and only eat one at a time. Don’t gorge on pizza and think that the gluten+dairy combo won’t wreck you. Some fun symptoms include: blood sugar spikes, loss of energy, loose stool, constipation, acne (especially true of dairy), joint pain, asthma, and more! And I wouldn’t suggest you reintroduce these non-Paleo foods as a regular part of your diet, but rather understand that they are a cheat.
#3: Cheat Smarter, not Harder
From you 30 days, your cravings should be greatly reduced. Here on out, it’s up to you to figure out how to keep your life Paleo, because remember, this is a lifestyle, not a temporary diet. I subscribe to the “80/20″ philosophy where you can still keep your body burning fat for fuel while still enjoying some of those special treats that make life awesome (though if fat loss is your goal, you may have to be more strict, like a 90/10). For more on how to think about your cheats, read Whole 9′s guide to Eating Dirty Parts I & II. Basically, don’t schedule cheat meals or days, savor the times you do cheat, and realize that some (e.g. gluten-containing) foods just aren’t worth it.
#4: Be Proud of Your Accomplishments But Strive For Better
Was your goal to lose 10 pounds of fat and gain 5 pounds of muscle? Did it happen for you? Be happy with your success to date but keep your eye on the prize. It’s all too easy to think “I deserve to relax my strict eating because I was perfect for 30 days.” I only buy into that if you did indeed hit your goals perfectly and it’s not your first time around on the Whole 30. Otherwise, you need to keep your sights on your goal and not let up until you reach them. It can take a bit of tweaking to make Paleo work for you longterm, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. I’ve committed to eating this way the rest of my life; I hope you can too.