This is the experimental phase. It gives you scope to work out which of the rules are really important for you to stick to 100%, and where they can relax things a little. It also gives you an opportunity to move beyond your ideal food list and work out which other foods are safe foods for you. It will also help you learn which foods are best for you to avoid longterm.
Variety is the name of the game
Sometimes people have anxiety about deviating from their plan as they are now feeling so good, and don’t want to mess anything up. This feeling is totally normal, but it is important to understand that your initial food list is designed to bring you back into balance, but staying on this plan for too long can take you out of balance in the longer run. It is vital that you add in more variety to your diet. This is what Phase 3 is all about.
Priority for adding in new foods
I recommend initially adding in all your Phase 3 foods. This is also known as the extended food list. We may have already introduced some of these foods in Phase 2, but if not, start incorporating this extended list into your diet.
Initially keep your quantities the same if you are still wanting further weight loss. If weight loss is not a priority any more, you can start to experiment with increasing quantities. I suggest adding in an extra 10g of protein and 10g of vegetables and seeing how that goes.
Once settled on the extended food list, I suggest incorporating additional fruits and vegetables. Keep using your meal plan as a template but add in non-list options and take note of how you feel.
The way I like to explain it is using a traffic light system.
You will already know which your green light ideal foods are. These are the foods on your plan. Phase 3 is about learning which other foods you can bring into your inner circle, and which ones you need to move into the red area, the ones to stay away from.
I suggest this is a great time to keep some good notes. You will want to see how food impacts how you are feeling. Note down if you get any bloating, stomach discomfort, bowel complaints, fatigue, sluggishness, headaches or body pain. If all goes well with a new food, you can move those into your green circle too, then move on to other new foods.
Remember to stick to whole foods but add in new vegetables and fruits and see how you go in terms of weight management and how you feel. I recommend only introducing 1 new food item per day, and giving 42 hours to 72 hours to see how you respond to it.
Once you have expanded your fruits and vegetables list, I suggest adding in new protein sources. Do the same as with the fruits and vegetables and keep notes. If all is ok, proceed to adding in some extra whole-food carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are often the area where people start to see stable weight fluctuate dramatically. Start with boiled potato in skins, wild rice, quinoa and oats if not on your plan. (If avoiding gluten, let’s chat about some options). Substitute your daily bread for these other options in appropriate quantities. It can also be helpful to do this either at breakfast or lunch, and avoid carbohydrates in the evening if you are especially sensitive to carbohydrates, or have a history of insulin resistance. Eating them earlier in the day allows for more digestion to occur.
If you notice a weight increase of 1-2 kg after a meal containing carbohydrates, this is suggestive of some type of reaction. Avoid for a while by putting into your red list and try again at a later date to see if you get the same reaction. Over the next week this weight should subside. This is likely fluid and inflammation weight.
Note that incorporating more carbohydrates can lead to some people feeling more hungry.
Gluten containing foods should be the last ones you ad in. For many, many people with health issues, gluten can be an issue, even if you don’t have a true allergy.
Good luck! Remember to reach out and ask any questions you have during this Phase.
Additional notes for Phase 3
During phase 3 many people like to move away from weighing food. Totally understandable and I wholeheartedly recommend this. Phase 3 is about learning to eat intuitively so give it a go – learn to listen to your inner signals. How does it feel? Are you full? How do you feel after eating? Gassy? Pain? Joint issues?