The Diet

Hi!

My name is Mikhaila Peterson. I’m a 26 year old mother (and loving it!). I live in Toronto.

Short background on me:

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 7 years old. My parents think it started when I was around 2 noticing the way I walked. I was the first child in Canada to be put on injections of Enbrel, an immune suppressant. I was also put on injections of Methotrexate. In grade 5, when I was 12, I was diagnosed with severe depression/anxiety. I started taking Cipralex (Celexa), an SSRI. I was on a very high dose for a child, but if I tried to lower it, I couldn’t. That dose increased into my teenage years and early 20’s when my depression worsened. When I was 17 I had a hip and an ankle replacement from the arthritis (that diagnosis was changed from rheumatoid arthritis to idiopathic arthritis). I was prescribed Adderall to keep myself awake because I couldn’t stay awake. Diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia. My skin was itchy, I had mouth ulcers, floaters, and terrible skin problems starting in my early 20’s.

At the peak of my medicated times I was taking:
For Arthritis: Enbrel and Methotrexate, (immune suppressants). Folic acid because of the Methotrexate. Tylenol 3 so I could sleep at night without as much pain.
For depression: Cipralex and Wellbutrin
For fatigue: Adderall to keep me awake, Gravol and Lorazepam to put me to sleep from the Adderall.
For my skin: Minocycline (antibiotic), and later dapsone (antibiotic)
Other: Birth control (seasonique)

I’ve probably taken antibiotics 2-3 times a year since I was 2. That’s almost 40 rounds of antibiotics.

I’ve been on way more than that too. That was just at one point in time.
Anyways, all in all, I was very sick.

May 2015, I stopped eating gluten. I thought that my skin problems that had slowly been growing worse were probably Celiac related (dermatitis herpetiformis). I never had stomach pain so I had never looked at food before. Cutting out gluten maybe helped a bit… But not nearly enough.

September 2015, I went on an elimination diet. I went on it to see if I could control my arthritic symptoms. I could. 3 weeks into the diet my arthritis and skin issues went away. This was unheard of. I don’t have the type of arthritis that goes away.

3 months later my depression disappeared. My arthritis ate my hip and my ankle but I haven’t experienced anything more debilitating than depression.

A month after that my fatigue lifted.

Everything wrong with me was diet related. Arthritis, depression, anxiety, lower back pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, itchy skin, acne, tiny blisters on my knuckles, floaters, mouth ulcers, twitching at night, night sweats, tooth sensitivity, and the list goes on, but everything was diet related. Every single thing wrong with me was fixable.

Then I got pregnant.

Things shifted in my body and the original diet I followed didn’t get rid of my symptoms anymore. My arthritis came back (albeit much less awful than before) and my depression came back (again, much less awful). I lost the ability to tolerate any carbs.

The following is a list of foods that I could originally eat without reacting. This is a good list of foods to start with for the elimination diet. In order to do this, you have to be very strict. If you have questions, please comment!  If the following list doesn’t work for you after a month, you can try even more strict, or you can go zero-carb. If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disorder or you need to get better ASAP (as in you’re dying from what ails you), I’d recommend zero-carb. You can reintroduce vegetables after a month (if you want to).

If you can’t manage to do zero-carb, or the following list of foods, (it makes eating out almost impossible), at least cut-out gluten and dairy and sugar. If you’re a “healthy” person, cut out gluten and dairy. All of it. Gluten is hidden in soya sauce, twizzlers, malt vinegar. Cut it all out for 4 weeks and see how you feel. If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disorder or depression or another mental disorder than I would suggest doing the following diet or doing zero-carb. Cutting out gluten and dairy will help but it might not be enough. You may find that you’re able to reintroduce most foods after the elimination diet.

Meats:

  • turkey
  • beef
  • chicken
  • lamb
  • duck
  • wild game is fine too, elk, moose, etc.
  • wild salmon
  • tunacheck the ingredients! Get stuff that’s just tuna and water and perhaps salt.
  • organ meat – chicken liver tastes the best I find
  • wild herring – check the ingredients!
  • wild sardinescheck the ingredients!

Veggies:

  • lettuce
  • arugula
  • arugula microgreens (arugula sprouts)
  • cucumber
  • swiss chard
  • seaweed –check the ingredients! this is hard to find without soy and other things. The brand I’ve linked to is safe and really tasty
  • cilantro
  • collard greens
  • broccoli
  • turnips
  • cauliflower
  • parsnips
  • sweet potatoes
  • spinach

Fruit:

  • olives – check the ingredients! see my olive post. be super careful about which brands you buy here too, many have preservatives and flavours and dyes.

Vinegars:

  • apple cider vinegar – try to get the organic stuff so there aren’t dyes and flavours added

Oils:

  • coconut oil – get unrefined. And try to avoid the Nutiva brand. It’s everywhere but it doesn’t taste as good, and I’ve had ones that have gone bad before.
  • olive oil – make sure your olive oil is pure olive oil. Sometimes it’s also soybean oil!

Spices/Seasonings

  • salt
  • pepper
  • marjoram
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • turmeric
  • basil
  • bay leaf
  • coriander

Other:

  • baking soda (probably won’t eat this but it’s good for toothpaste 🙂 )
  • peppermint tea – check the ingredients. buy loose leaf (David’s sells an organic peppermint which is lovely) or organic. We want to make sure there aren’t preservatives or flavours added. White tea bags or coffee filters are often bleached with sulfites. If you’re super sensitive (dad and I), you’ll react to these. So make sure you get organic tea bags as well!
  • black tea- check the ingredients. buy loose leaf if possible
  • green tea- check the ingredients. buy loose leaf if possible

Alcohol – not for the first month. I can kinda handle it, but lots of people can’t.

  • vodka
  • bourbon and American Whiskey labeled “straight” whiskey

Good luck! If you try this for 4 weeks you should be able to see a huge difference. Then reintroduce foods by having a bite of it. I do not recommend reintroducing dairy and gluten ever but do so if need be. It took me 8 months to realize how sensitive I was, it doesn’t seem possible, but I react strongly to half bite of food. Have a bite or two of the new food and then wait 4 days before reintroducing something else. Most of my reactions (but definitely not all) take about 4 days to hit peak terrible – particularly arthritis and definitely the depression. Skin issues take about 7 days to come up after eating an offending food.

Things to try and reintroduce first after the first month:

  • avocados
  • other leafy greens
  • macademia nuts
  • foods that are listed as okay by the AIP or SCD diets

Foods to always be wary of:

  • grains
  • dairy
  • sugar
  • soy

Foods that I had major issues with when I tried to reintrodue

  • almonds
  • rice
  • sulphites
  • dairy – ouchhhh that was not fun to experience
  • gluten
  • kelp noodles
  • white cabbage
  • bananas – terrible for the arthritis
  • cane sugar
  • food dyes
  • citrus
  • melons
  • grapes
  • onions
  • zucchini
  • soy
  • probiotics – I can’t handle them, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Hopefully, after some healing, I’ll be able to handle them too.

My father and my husband have the same sensitivities, and I’ve been contacted by people who also have extremely similar reactions to the same foods. This is widespread. These are terrible reactions that most people don’t realize until they’re gone. What’s the point of realistically thinking about everything bodily that’s bugging you? Muscle pain, fatigue, digestive issues, minor skin problems, the occasional mouth ulcer – all things people ignore. Don’t. These are signs. Good luck!!

To find out exactly how to go about doing an elimination diet please read this (especially if you suffer from depression/anxiety, there are some things you should know before going on an elimination diet).

UPDATE: Zero-carb – for when going down to meat and greens isn’t good enough. Or if you’ve already been on a keto diet or paleo diet and you’re still not better

395 thoughts on “The Diet

  1. AC says:

    A few more questions.. Is this your current list of food you eat? How do you eat at a restaurant? Can you give us some tips on that? Also, no mushrooms? Wondering why even the vegetables are so limited?

      • I don’t eat out. I’m assuming most people who go on this diet will be able to reintroduce far more foods than I’ve been able to. So I’d recommend skipping the restaurant for the first month, and then figure out whats bothering you, then you can avoid it when you eat out. That being said, steakhouses are pretty good at making a steak with just salt and pepper. When I first started the diet though, I went out and got hit basically every time I went to a restaurant. Salad dressing with soybean oil was a big thing I didn’t know to avoid initially.

  2. Thomas says:

    Hi Mikhaila,

    I just recently came across your blog site and saw that you strongly emphasize the importance of diet when dealing with serious ailments like depression, high anxiety, high fatigue, etc. I’m having to deal with these things too and struggling to find decent relief. However, my question is how do you know when diet is affecting your well-being? I’ve never really been good at following a strict diet before, but I try to do my best with less red-meat consumption and more chicken and seafood. As for vegetables, I can be extremely picky with those because most of them taste terrible to me. But yeah back to my question, how do I know if something like my diet is linked to my depression and such?

    Thanks

    • The only way to know if to test it out. I vehemently disagreed with people when they suggest diet was the cause (but it was usually pretty condescending). Cut out some foods for a month and see how you feel! That’s the only way I know of. Red meat is definitely not the problem though! It’s actually one of the more safe foods. (I know there was talk of heart disease, etc., but most of those studies have been debunked). Try to get rid of grains, sugar, soy, and focus on meat and green vegetables and see if it makes a difference.

  3. g.sartor says:

    what if you have more than one type of arthritis? and what if gout is one of those forms of arthritis? Is meat okay in those circumstances?

  4. Etienne says:

    “Every single thing wrong with me was fixable [with diet]. The following is a list of foods that I can eat without reacting, and my dad and boyfriend is the same way. ”

    I’m really sorry to say this, Mikhaila, but you sound delusional. You’re on a 100% meat-based diet now because obviously your dietary tweaks have *not* solved everything. Why lie to yourself and us like this? It is also impossible that both your dad and boyfriend happen to have the *exact same food sensitivities as you*. This is just wishful thinking.

    • I totally agree that I sound delusional. I would’ve had the same reaction to a blog post like this myself, about 4 years ago. But now I’m asymptomatic and happy, and so is my family 🙂 You only have to try it out for a month to see whether or not I’m actually delusional

  5. Leah K says:

    Hi I noticed you didn’t list pork under the meats and Im doing the elimination diet as prescribed above. Have you had an issue with pork?

    • I haven’t, dad has, and some other people have too. I don’t eat it because it doesn’t make me feel as good (and I kind of feel bad for pigs… Coming from someone just eating meat, I know, don’t laugh). I think if you cut down enough you’d be able to find out if it bothers you or not.

  6. Peter Ford says:

    I suffer from a lot of the health problems you mention (digestive disorder, depression, anxiety, fatigue, joint/muscular pain to name a few) so I’m tempted to try this diet.

    Have you calculated your daily average fibre intake on this diet? I ask because I’ve tried restrictive diets in the past such as Low/No FODMAP and the Paleo diet, but my bowels always overload due to low motility (the opposite to my usual IBS-D symptoms). This is even whilst taking a good fibre supplement and flaxseeds.

    • I did calculations at the beginning, but then I just cut down as much as possible, and listened to my body. My digestive system goes crazy when I have a reaction. I used to be chronically constipated, but now when I have a reaction it’s diarrhea. Fibre hasn’t seem to made a difference at all. I’d start with the elimination diet and just see, it eliminates a lot of allergens, and the people I’ve been able to monitor closely haven’t had a problem with it. It does take about a month to get customized though, and if you’re super sensitive, if you mess up at all it will mess up your digestion.

    • Nope. But after the first month you can reintroduce them to see if they bother you. I’d just leave citrus and bananas until last. I had the least problems with apples and pears… No explanation for any of that, just my experience.

  7. Brandon says:

    Have you tried Wild Sardines? They are high fat, so if you’re aiming for Ketosis that is good, they are also low in mercury. If you have tried them what was your reaction to them?

  8. Lindsey says:

    Thank you so much for the blog. You’ve convinced me to try this diet (no small feat).
    I’m on a lot of medication for psoriatic arthritis and while I hope that I’ll be able to reduce or eliminate some meds eventually, I’m just trying to keep things stable right now. I have read on another AIP site that you shouldn’t take NSAID’s with this diet and I’m willing to try to give them up if doing so makes sense, but I’m reluctant to scale back on the other meds until/unless I don’t need them. But I’m curious to know what you did. Did you give up any medication before the diet, or once it started helping? I’d appreciate any insight you have to offer.
    Also, the seaweed link is dead, would you share the name of the product? I would really like to try it.
    Thank you!

    • I’ll update the link but its this stuff: https://www.vitacost.com/seasnax-organic-seaweed-snacks (the smaller packs are tastier for some reason). I definitely did NOT stop my meds before I tried the diet. Well, actually that’s not true. I stopped Methotrexate because I didn’t think it was working… and then I stopped Enbrel when I cut out gluten. I didn’t stop Adderall or antidepressants until I could live without them. I wouldn’t recommend stopping any of the meds until your symptoms are actually gone though.

  9. Jeannie Shima says:

    Mikhaila – I found you through your father’s YT discussions and lectures and so glad I did! My twin has had Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years and has had 2 hip replaced, double knee, both feet completely straightened, etc. I shared your info with her today. So happy you’re feeling better and so thrilled that you can share your journey and what’s worked and thereby help so many people! Blessings to you!

Leave a Reply