“If you are sitting on a tack, it takes a lot of aspirin to kill the pain. It is better to remove the tack. If you are sitting on three tacks, it will not improve your pain much to remove just one. You have to get them all out.” – Dr. Sidney Baker in his book, Detoxification and Healing
Our modern life has left us with ‘biological tacks’ which prevent our body’s ‘optimal functioning’. The more modern our conditions, the sicker we get. This is evidenced by the higher incidence of chronic modern diseases in the more industrialized areas on earth. The situation is scary and has many of us confused.
In contrast, when we look at people living in more natural conditions, we find that they live longer and healthier lives. The aspects of life that are most strikingly different between our life in modern cities and life in more natural conditions, is everything around food. The greatest source of ‘health tack’ in our modern civilization is food. Food is making us sick.
A ‘biological tack’ is anything that interferes with the processes in our bodies that are essential for true health. The most obvious ones delivered by food are the chemicals we use to grow our food and then process it into the high-tech food-like products that fill our supermarket shelves. Fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics, additives and preservatives leave us tired, foggy, depressed, anxious, allergic, fat, puffy, constipated and susceptible to infections.
Since most of the tacks of modern life are linked directly to food, knowing what not to eat is the first and most important step towards restoring more natural conditions in our body. By removing the foods that trigger toxic consequences you immediately relieve the body from having to defend itself, adapt and survive these adverse conditions. Without even knowing exactly what is good for you, without the need of trial and error with the thousand and one diets out there that tell you exactly what to eat, you can take a giant leap in health by just removing certain foods.
Using the elimination diet to find your tacks: One of the best ways to get clear on what tacks are effect you is by going on an elimination diet. Th ed is a set dietary list designed to avoid the major foods that cause allergies, food sensitivities, and digestive problems. By going on the ed for 21-days you you give your body a rest and break from the most common food tacks. What not to eat: How to figure out what foods don’t work for you.
The elimination diet is a common tool used in the world of functional medicine to help patients get clear on what foods are effecting them. In my practice, after i place someone on the ed for 21-days, i then ask them to take the two primary tacks, gluten and dairy, and follow what i call the reintroduction process.
Here’s how the reintroduction testing process works:
Step 1: Testing foods introduce one food from the elimination diet’s “exclude” list into your daily meals. Start with either gluten or dairy. Have some milk for breakfast or some cheese with your mid-day meal. Avoid mixing two or more excluded foods. For example, a bowl of cereal wouldn’t be the best choice because it includes both dairy and wheat. The goal here is to isolate one excluded food at a time to determine if it is one of your toxic triggers. If you have cereal in the morning and notice that it doesn’t sit well with you, it won’t be clear whether it was the dairy or the wheat that tack.
Once you’ve chosen your first excluded food and introduced it into your diet, notice what happens over the next twenty-four hours. Sometimes the effects of an excluded food don’t show up right away. This is why it’s important to notice how your body responds over a twenty-four hour period.
The following questions will help guide you understand what effect the gluten or dairy had on you.
• Right after: Does anything happen shortly after eating it, such as a runny nose or mucus in the throat (typical of milk), or fatigue, bloating, or a headache (typical of wheat)?
• Energy: How are your energy levels? A bowl of wheat pasta at night, for example, may make you feel very tired immediately after eating it or upon waking the next morning.
• Bowels: How are your bowel movements the next day? As frequent and as easy to eliminate as they were during the cleanse?
• Sleep: Did you sleep poorly? Did you have intense dreams or nightmares? Did you wake up in the middle of the night?
• Emotions: How do you feel emotionally the next day? Are you angry, moody or irritable?
Step 2: Retesting foods sometimes the effect of an excluded food on your body is very apparent. Let’s say your first excluded food is dairy. You might notice within a few hours of drinking a glass of milk that your nose is a little stuffy, or you might notice no reaction. Whether you have a reaction or not, testing an excluded food once is not enough. To be sure that your results are accurate, it is important to retest.
You can retest an excluded food by simply following the same guidelines as your initial test. Take the same food and have it again the next day without combining it with any other excluded foods. Using dairy as an example, simply have dairy again the following day and notice how you feel for the next twenty-four hours.
Step 3: Identify the next step in the reintroduction process is to identify your excluded food reaction. Which one of these statements best describes your reaction?
No reaction: I had no reaction at all to the excluded food.
Example: I felt fine. I didn’t notice any changes in mood. I felt energized and awake. Overall, i felt good.
Mild reaction: I had a noticeable reaction to the food.
Example: I felt bloated and gassy. I felt tired. I felt dehydrated. I felt itchy. I felt uncomfortable. My sleep was off. I felt foggy.
Strong reaction: I had a strong negative reaction to the food.
Example: I felt sick. I developed a lot of mucus. I had a strong headache. I became flushed. I became very constipated. I developed a rash. I had trouble sleeping. I felt cold or flu-like symptoms. I developed diarrhea. I became very angry or upset.
Step 4: Eliminate and rotate if you’ve identified an excluded food as a biological track you now have two options: Eliminate or rotate.
Eliminate: If you had a strong negative reaction to an excluded food, your body is trying to tell you that this food is currently a biological track. It is important to remove these foods from your diet completely or minimize them greatly. We know that removing a favorite food from your diet can be challenging, but the long-term benefits outweigh short-term gratification.
Rotate: If your reaction to the foods you test is mild but still noticeable, it may not be necessary to eliminate them forever. However, you will benefit greatly from reducing the of your frequency of exposure to these foods. Rotate your choice of foods in such a way that you don’t eat the irritating ones more often than once a week.
Closing thoughts on biological tacks
There is no need to be a purist for the rest of your life if you enjoy gluten or dairy. Have them and enjoy them, bringing your awareness fully to the present moment with each bite or sip. There’s nothing worse for digestion than guilt. What’s most important is that you notice the strong connection between what you eat and how you feel. Take your time to explore this process. Your relationship with food wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be reset overnight either.
There are thousands of theories about diet, lifestyle, and stress management. On top of that, it seems everyone has their own opinion on how you should live and what you should eat. But, nothing is more real than your first-hand experience. Finding your biological tacks empowers you to listen to your own body and make your own decisions about which foods work best for you.
Here’s to knowing what not to eat,