How to Reintroduce Dairy After an Elimination Diet for Adults

An elimination diet involves eliminating particular food groups from your diet for a temporary period of time. There’s no set rule on which food groups to eliminate, but dairy is among the most common.

People follow elimination diets for a variety of reasons including weight loss, hormone rebalancing, general wellbeing, and to check for food intolerances and allergies. But what happens when the diet is over and you decide to introduce dairy back into your everyday eating?

For some people dairy is difficult to digest and that’s why it’s often part of an elimination diet. But what about when it’s time to introduce dairy again. How do you do it?

That’s exactly what we are discussing today. So, let’s review how to reintroduce dairy after an elimination diet below.

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Why Is Dairy Removal Part of an Elimination Diet?

Unexpected weight gain, acne, fatigue, and digestive problems are common reasons people cite for going on an elimination diet. In an elimination diet, you’re looking for foods that are causing any unpleasant symptoms you’re experiencing. This allows you to better understand your body and the eating patterns that best suit you.

Many people, while not entirely allergic to dairy products, are lactose intolerant. Lactose is an enzyme found in dairy products, and lactose intolerance can cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in people who find it hard to tolerate the enzyme.

If you’ve ever experienced uncomfortable gastric issues after eating pizza, ice cream, or drinking milk, lactose intolerance might be to blame.

How Long Should a Dairy Elimination Diet Last for Adults?

Depending on how many food groups you remove from your diet during an elimination diet, you could put yourself at risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. To avoid doing so, the amount of time you spend on an elimination diet should be 2-3 weeks.

For reference my elimination diet program lasts 40 days total, with reintroduction starting at 28 days. If you’re worried about developing any nutritional deficiencies during the diet, plan your meals carefully to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. Supplements can also come in handy for topping up nutrients you’re getting less of.

How to Reintroduce Dairy After an Elimination Diet

If you’ve decided that dairy isn’t a troublemaker for your digestive system. Or it is at least not enough to cut it completely, you may want to reintroduce dairy after your elimination diet ends. Here are some easy steps to take to safely reintroduce dairy into your diet without causing problems for your digestive system.

Keep Your Gut Healthy

One of the secrets to improving your digestion in general, not just when it comes to dairy, is looking after your microbiome. Your microbiome is a community of organisms that live in your gut.

This bacteria can determine not just how easily you digest your food, but also many aspects of your health in general, such as your immune system. Having a healthy microbiome will serve you well when it comes to introducing hard-to-digest foods into your diet.

The best way to look after your gut is to eliminate as many processed foods from your diet as possible and focus on whole foods. These include unprocessed meats, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Ditch the chicken nuggets, and center your diet around foods that have been processed as little as possible. Eating a diversity of fruits and vegetables is also excellent for your gut.

Instead of sticking to just one type of fruit or vegetable, eat the rainbow. One meal for example, could contain sweet potatoes, lentils, green leafy vegetables such as kale, and tomatoes, all of which boast different nutrients that compliment one another.

Focus on keeping your gut healthy while you prepare to add dairy back to your diet. Doing so will make sure your gut is in the best position to digest a variety of foods.

Introduce Dairy Slowly

If you’ve been a few weeks without dairy and you’re craving a cheeseboard, try to avoid jumping back into eating dairy in every meal. Instead introduce dairy into your diet slowly.

On the first day you reintroduce it, for example, you might start by adding a scoop of yogurt to your morning fruit or a few shavings of parmesan cheese to your salad. By reintroducing dairy slowly and monitoring how your body responds, you’ll have a better chance of noticing any changes in how you feel or any negative reactions.

Practice Good Eating Habits

The way our body processes the food we eat is affected by more than simply what’s on our plates. During the reintroduction period, take it back to basics with the rules of how you eat.

Focus on sitting up straight, chewing your food properly, and taking your time to eat your food. Where possible, avoid eating food on the go. Take time to sit down and take a mindful approach to eating.

Make a Note of Symptoms

One of the most common reasons for undertaking an elimination diet is to discover whether or not your body is intolerant or allergic to certain foods. In order to establish which (if any) intolerances exist, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your body while you reintroduce these foods.

If you notice symptoms such as digestive problems, acid reflux, heartburn, or fatigue, note which meals they occurred after. That will help you discover which foods could be the culprits.

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Dairy Elimination Diet Reintroduction Symptoms to Look Out For

Figuring out whether dairy is a problematic food group for your body is crucial to keep it happy and healthy in the future. If you experience any of the following symptoms while you reintroduce dairy, make a note of them.

It’s common to have some mild reactions when reintroducing a certain food to your diet. But, if you experience severe symptoms that don’t seem to go away, it could be time to see a health professional or dietitian to discuss potential intolerances.

Gastric Problems

Experiencing uncomfortable stomach cramps, diarrhea, or constipation is a sign that dairy isn’t sitting well with your digestive system. This could indicate an intolerance or even allergy.

Make sure you’re eating dairy with foods that you can otherwise tolerate. If you do experience any symptoms, you’ll know that they’re being caused by dairy.


Bloating is a common side effect of foods we’re not able to digest particularly well. Look out for bloating that begins once you’ve finished consuming dairy to signal that you may be experiencing digestive issues.


Fatigue is a very common side effect of a food intolerance or allergy. Be mindful of fatigue that occurs even when you’ve slept and rested adequately, as this could signal an issue with your diet.

While fatigue isn’t likely to appear as immediately as other symptoms such as a headache or stomach cramps, it’s worth being on the look out for feelings of general exhaustion that occur at the same time as you reintroduce dairy products into your diet.

Headaches or Migraines

Headaches and migraines can occur as a result of eating food that doesn’t sit right with you. Look out for headaches when you’re not dehydrated, as this could signal problems with your ability to digest dairy.


Heartburn is commonly seen when you eat acidic foods. Be sure to assess your onion, garlic, tomato, and fruit intake before jumping to conclusions about what caused your heartburn. If you get heartburn every time you have dairy, it’s likely a sign of an intolerance.

How To Know if You Should Eliminate Dairy From Your Diet

Part of the reason for an elimination diet is to establish whether any foods are better off being excluded from your diet for health reasons. If after reintroducing dairy to your diet you start to experience symptoms such as cramps, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, fatigue, and weight gain that don’t seem to go away and are severe in nature, it could be time to remove dairy from your diet completely.

If you want medical confirmation of lactose intolerance or an allergy, speak to a medical professional. You may still be able to have dairy products, but ones from which the lactose has been removed.

How to reintroduce dairy after an elimination diet.

Now you know how to reintroduce dairy after an elimination diet as an adult.

Going on an elimination diet is an excellent idea if you’re struggling with unexplained symptoms and want to discover whether a particular food group is to blame. To reintroduce dairy to your diet after an elimination diet, take it slowly and practice good eating habits.

Keep track of your symptoms to note if dairy causes you to feel any differently. If so, it could be a sign of an intolerance or allergy.

Even if you do decide to reintroduce dairy, any good eating habits from your elimination diet should remain. Try and focus your diet around whole, unprocessed foods to keep that all-important gut microbiome happy.