The Five Fingers of Death

To help patients restore intestinal balance, I usually have to put them on fairly restrictive diets in the beginning of their treatment. This helps reduce stress on the gut and immune system allowing a chance for recovery. At the same time we add in herbs or vitamins to support the body and to kill off microorganisms responsible for dysbiosis. It sounds simple, but making dietary changes can be extremely difficult. Patients encounter challenges to implementing the diet culturally and socially (mostly family and friends), logistically (what do I eat) and emotionally (I can’t eat what I normally do when I am stressed).

At one point or another, I have avoided foods for weeks or months to improve my health. I learned important lessons along the way that made it much easier.  Now I can avoid groups of food without thinking much about it. My main goal was to write down some of the tips and methods I used to successfully cut foods out of my diet when needed or on a more permenant basis.

One of my teachers, Dr. Tim Francis, calls sugar, corn, soy, wheat, and dairy “The Five Fingers of Death.” These foods cause tremendous problems for many of my patients and are a good group of foods to avoid. I thought it would be good for my health and educational to avoid the Five Fingers for 3 weeks and write down what I was eating.  This is mainly for those patients who are walking out of the office saying “Now I can’t eat anything, I’ll starve!” I also cut out caffeine and nightshades as many of my patients have to avoid these foods regularly.  So here is the entire list of foods I will avoid:

Wheat (gluten/gliadin)

Dairy (anything with casein)


Sugar (I will have fruit since I usually don’t ask patients to restrict it)


Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers)


Following are the foods I ate and the way my body reacted. I included these reactions because if you can understand why I experienced a headache, for example, then you may be able to avoid one.

*The recipes are listed at the end of the post. I italicized menu items for which I have included a recipe.

BREAKFASTS (Since I repeated what I ate for breakfast on many days, I condensed for ease of reading):

  • 2 eggs over-easy cooked in olive oil, 1 apple
  • 2 eggs over-easy cooked in olive oil with 1/3 cup rice cooked in with the egg
  • Left-over grilled chicken breast
  • Scrambled eggs with left-over zucchini, onions, and chopped ham
  • 2 small left-over pork chops, apple
  • 2 eggs with 1 piece bacon
  • 2 eggs with left over vegetables (sautéed asparagus, zucchini, onions)
  • 2 eggs with left-over vegetables, half avocado, 2 almond flour banana/blueberry muffins
  • Sweet potato topped with cinnamon and raw coconut oil


SNACKS (Most days, I eat a 10 am  or 4 pm snack):

  • 1 medium to large apple or 2 small apples
  • Microwaved sweet potato topped with cinnamon and raw coconut oil
  • Blueberries and raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Handful of dried coconut flesh
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter with shredded coconut and puffed quinoa
  • Apple with peanut butter
  • 1 peach
  • 1 slice meatloaf, cherries (this sounds like a weird combo but I liked it)
  • 2 apple sauce snack packs


  • 2 cups chicken broth, orange


  • 1 large grilled pork chop, steamed broccoli, 3/4 cup organic brown basmati rice
  • Cubed pork chop (This was an awesome lunch! The chicken stock brought everything together.)
  • Grilled chicken thighs and salad of Romaine lettuce with shredded cabbage, chopped carrots, and avocado. For dressing I mixed olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper and drizzled over the salad. Avocado has a nice nutty flavor and has plenty of fat to keep you satisfied for hours.
  • Beef and rice
  • Carrots and hummus (Not a lot of time)
  • Grilled chicken thigh and drum stick, sweet potato mash, and roasted cauliflower
  • Grilled boneless, skinless chicken thigh, sweet potato mash, sautéed broccoli in coconut oil
  • Roast chicken from the store and homemade butternut squash soup
  • Grilled pork chop, sautéed zucchini and onion, 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • Was in Whole Foods. From the counter-grilled asparagus and 1 cilantro lime chicken breast. It was the best I could do out.  (Early lunch this day11 am)
  • 2 small pork chops left-over from the week, apple
  • Two roasted chicken thighs and 1 drumstick, mashed sweet potatoes, sautéed broccoli
  • Stir fried vegetables with chicken, almond butter sauce (lime, cilantro, almond butter)
  • Left over chicken thighs, left over beans and green with sausage, brown rice
  • 1 pork chop, stir fried vegetables (sugar snap peas, zucchini, asparagus, spinach onion, broccoli), brown rice
  • Indian food, rice, lentil dish, rice flour cakes, spice cakes (was at a birthday party)
  • 4 grilled chicken thighs (Marinated in mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme) brown rice
  • almond flour banana blueberry muffin
  • 4 grilled boneless chicken thighs, from yesterday, roasted beets, sweet potato mash
  • 2 roasted chicken thighs and legs from a store bought chicken, rice, veggies
  • Grilled chicken breast, with grilled zucchini, onion and asparagus, rice


  • Grilled vegetables with lentils. Salad Dressing was poured over the whole mixture.
  • Swiss chard with beans and Italian sausage form Polyface farms.
  • Quinoa with wilted spinach, cucumber, thinly sliced pork with olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper to bring it all together
  • (lunch was big today so dinner is light) Hummus and 3 large carrots, 1 peach
  • Butternut squash soup, 2 bowls. Large piece of left-over salmon
  • Grilled wild caught sockeye salmon. Just used salt pepper and the lemon juice and olive oil mixed together. I put fresh dill on top after I flipped it skin side down. Baked sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon
  • Vegetable stir fry
  • Coconut soup
  • Watermelon Hummus and carrots, hummus chips
  • Ginger, lemongrass, coconut, cilantro, mushroom, shrimp, soup.
  • Homemade spring rolls
  • Grilled salmon (salt pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic), rice, 1/2 avocado
  • Homemade vegetable soup
  • 2 large hamburgers 1 with pesto and 1 with hummus
  • 3 carrots with hummus, 1 apple
  • Pan fried chicken strips coated in almond flour, salt, pepper, and egg, roasted sweet potato fries
  • Quinoa, roasted beets, spinach, sautéed onions, lemon/olive oil/salt and pepper
  • Left over chicken thighs, left over beans and green with sausage, brown rice
  • Beans, Swiss chard, onion, bacon
  • Left-over vegetable stir fry with chicken and peanut sauce

DESSERTS (did not eat dessert every day):

  • 1 orange
  • 1 orange, 1 plum
  • 1 plum
  • Blueberries, raspberries
  • 1 peach, 1 orange, handful of dried coconut flesh
  • 1 peach
  • 1 tablespoons of almond butter with, toasted coconut, puffed quinoa
  • Carrot cake
  • Apricot tea cakes
  • Banana Blueberry muffin
  • Apple muffin
  • Watermelon (This is a little high in sugar but it was summer and I didn’t eat a lot)


After Day 1

As you can see I wasn’t starving myself but it did take quite a bit of preparation. We went shopping for the veggies the day before. I say “we” because my wife Michelle helped with prep and shopping. It is very difficult to make great tasting food for yourself and then cook something separate for the family.  Just know if you have a spouse that is not supportive it will be more difficult and you will have to strengthen your resolve.

We always have a freezer full of high quality beef, poultry, pork and homemade chicken stock. I usually buy any fish fresh. This was happening in summer so there was some great salmon because it was in season.  I made 2 cups of the brown rice the day before so I would have enough for the next several days. I grilled a lot of extra vegetables (8-10cups) which provided a quick source of veggies for the next day. I also grilled enough pork chops for the next day as well. This way you are also setting yourself up for success the next day. It gets infinitely harder to stick to a restrictive diet when at every meal you do not have to work to find allowed foods to eat. It is easier to eat left-overs and only test your resolve ever other day.

How did I feel?

In the morning I felt good because this is not an abnormal day of food for me.  I was hungry, but satisfied. I started to get a headache in the afternoon that progressively got worse as the night went on and did notrelent until3 am. I kept drinking water and used an ice-pack to help the pain. This is most likely caffeine withdrawal. I had been drinking way more caffeine than I normally do the week prior and now I was paying the price. In the morning I woke refreshed with only the minor hint that a headache had happened.  When you start a restrictive diet this can happen for several days as your body becomes accustomed to the changes. When you are taking herbs or nutrients to kill microorganisms it can cause a die-off reaction with temporary symptoms of headache, diarrhea, nausea, itching, skin rash, or fatigue. This usually goes away after about 3-5 days. If it does not, you should have your supplements checked to see if one of them is causing a problem.

Day 2:


Today I felt really good. I had a clear mind and good energy throughout the day. I did have a little hint of a headache at the end of the day. I feel no bloating as I go to bed and feel really light. Lunch being something easy to grab made a huge difference. I did not have to think about it; I just grabbed it.

Day 4:


I went for a 20 mile bike ride first thing this morning which changed things. I will require more food than usual for recovery. If your energy is getting really low or you are planning on exercising as you cut all these foods out of your diet, you will need to increase your intake of carbohydrates. When you eliminate processed foods usually you are left with a lower carb diet. You can see I have been making an effort to get the carbs I can eat into my diet to keep my energy up. These carbs are not going to make you fat unless it is the only thing you are eating.

**Sometimes people worry about using the microwave to cook. I say worry about eating good whole vegetables and meats first. Then worry about making those vegetables organic, the meat free-range, hormone free and antibiotic free. Then worry about getting rid of your microwave. There is far more danger in buying items labeled “organic” or “all natural” thinking you are doing a good thing. You may never realize you are just eating processed food that happens to have a fancy, natural-looking package.

Day 6:


Felt awesome today. Got a little headache because I could not get to lunch until an hour later than usual and let my blood sugar get low. I should have eaten lunch sooner or had a snack to prevent it.

Day 10:


It was the end of the week and there was a little less food ready in the house so even though I didn’t technically cheat, it was not a great meal.  The weekend is here and we can spend a little more time cooking a more complete meal.

Day 12:


20 mile bike ride-around1 pm. I felt tired and my legs burned right from the start. I hadn’t had enough carbs and paid the price with having no energy to get the ride started. I kept the intensity low and felt better after the ride than before. Lower intensity training burns fat for energy but takes a little longer to get going.  I felt it for sure.  Before the bike ride I had a slight headache which I think was from low blood sugar.

This was by far the hardest day. I wanted to have a coffee or something sweet badly.  I think it was more of a comfort thing than anything. I would have been happy with decaf but that contains some caffeine so I didn’t drink it. Last weekend I had the excitement and resolve of starting this 21 day diet so it was not a problem. Now is the time of boredom with avoiding those foods and having to watch what I eat. Intellectually I know that eating this way makes me feel great but I still craved the coffee.

Day 13:


My pants fit really great today! Things like this keep your motivation up.

Day 22:


5 mile run-best yet. No pain and I felt strong.  Could have gone faster and was not exhausted afterwards.


225 to 214 for a total of 11 pounds lost.


 Chicken Stock:

We use necks and backs form Polyface Farms .

  • 2 bags of necks
  • 2 bags of backs
  • 2 large onions
  • 4-6 carrots
  • 6 stalks of celery
  • Sea Salt and pepper
  • Parsley

Put in a big pot, cover with water and boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for a few hours.

If you have jelly when cool it came out perfect!

If you don’t have necks and backs, use a whole organic chicken.

 Salad Dressing: Olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper(not a night shade)


Swiss chard with beans and Italian sausage from Polyface farms. There is a slight possibility of a nightshade as a spice in the sausage but I didn’t think about it until after the fact. This is easy to make. Cook the sausage (bacon works well also) and cut into small bit sized pieces. Sauté onion and the diced stems of the chard in olive oil and a little bit of the fat from the sausage until soft. Add enough chicken stock to de glaze the pan. Add washed and sliced chard to the pan and wilt. Continue to cook until liquid is almost gone and add one can of you favorite bean and the sausage. Continue to cook off the liquid until the desired consistency is reached. 

Carrot Cake

Apricot Bars

Vegetable stir fry with chicken and peanut sauce
Slice onion, julienne carrots, zucchini, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, celery (any veggies you have) and mix together put in a large bowl or zip top bag.

Cook in small batches in a HOT pan with a little oil until aldente.. Salt and pepper each batch to taste as it is cooking.

As each batch is complete hold it in large bowl. When all batches are complete toss it all back into the pan together to cook off any residual liquid.

If you try to cook it all at once the veggies will be soggy. Small batches take some extra time but the texture is well worth it!

Peanut Sauce:

I will type the “real recipe” but we modified it to fit this diet by removing the red pepper flakes, substituting coconut aminos for soy sauce, removing honey etc…

 1 Tbsp Sesame oil

½ cup crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp Rice wine vinegar

1 ½ Tbs Soy Sauce

1 Tsp Honey

1 Tbsp water

 1Tbsp lime juice

5 Scallions thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 Tbsp minced ginger

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Combine together with an immersion blender until smooth. Add liquid (water or lime juice) to achieve desired consistency.

 Homemade vegetable soup-Homemade chicken stock with carrots, celery, onion, asparagus, zucchini, sugar snap peas, spinach, mushrooms parsley, thyme and brown rice

Cubed Pork Chop, 1/3 cup rice, roasted vegetables from day 1 and 1/3 cup homemade chicken stock. This was an awesome lunch! The chicken stock brought everything together.

Beef and Rice (still working on that initial batch). Sautéed onion, garlic and cooked down baby Portobello mushrooms with salt and pepper in olive oil, Then browned 1 pound grass-fed ground beef. Then everything was put together in the pan and rice, fresh thyme, and chopped spinach was added and wilted. When the spinach was added I also added beef stock which I happened to have on hand from a pot roast we had made for our son’s baby food. When everything was warm and the spinach was wilted it was done. 

Coconut Chicken Soup

Homemade Spring Rolls, shredded carrot, shrimp, mango, basil, scallion, wrapping in a rice paper shell. Homemade peanut butter sauce-peanut butter, lime juice, garlic, scallion

Vegetable Stir Fry, chopped chicken, scallions, peanut butter sauce, Thai basil, bean noodles (these are really easy, just soak them in warm water and they are ready) 

Banana Blueberry Muffin

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1.2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4-5 very rips bananas mashed

 Preheat oven to 350

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and eggs.

Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Stir in bananas, then fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool in the pain for 30 minutes.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cupagave nectar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced.

Preheat oven to 350

Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, soda, arrowroot powder and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk the grapeseed oil, agave, egg and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Fold in the apples.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

 Grilled vegetables with lentils (cooked with garlic for flavor). A dressing of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic, salt and black pepper (not a nightshade) was poured over the whole mixture.

All almond flour recipes can be found at:


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