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

199 thoughts on “The Diet

  1. Eric says:

    Calia, Sorry to hear that! Yikes. Have you thought about trying a probiotic blend to get a healthy balance back? Bread is just sugar…It’s like you’re reintroducing gasoline to the tinder spark! Argh. Also, it’s not just gluten…more information has come out. Look into Wheat Germ Agglutin and Amylopectin A (potatoes) AND FODMAPS! I found out Im sensitive to all sorts of foods. Something as simple and tiny as a food dye could be setting you off. Elimination is the way! Probiotics can help too

    • Caila says:

      Probiotics hurt me so I avoid them. They also cause depression for me. I’m definitely reacting bad to gluten but cookies with gluten? Worst thing ever. I think I’m going to start eating winter sqaush with just salt and see how I feel. Right now, eating causes me severe pain but not as in reflux, but more like cramping down there, lower right abdomen and I have a BM and have horrid pains and the pains cause me anxiety. Not sure why

  2. Eric says:

    Also, to help in your ease your mental battle vs these most delicious breads and sugars, read Wheat Belly and Grain Brain. Really gives you insight into what is going on with your urges….it’s not even you! It’s your microbiome: You have 10x more bacterial cells than human cells. You gut is telling you via the vagus nerve what it wants! We’re all a little zombie

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  4. Chris says:

    So interesting to see someone independently reproducing what I did for myself. Fortunately I’ve been extremely healthy most of my life (30 now) but I noticed things deteriorating a year or two ago.

    Over the past year I landed on basically beef / meat being my only safe food as well.

    Same issues essentially, depression (was never an issue before) and inflammation in wrists / joints that would cause injuries while lifting / exercising.

  5. Iain says:

    Hello Mikhaila – I have tried Paleo and Keto and I have to agree a strict no carb diet does work. I have been back on the healthy complex carbs and some of the low level inflamation stuff has returned. So back on Paleo on doctors orders. Thanks for strength hope and experience and best wishes to you and your father. Iain

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  7. Sean says:

    Hi,

    Thank a lot for all of the information here, I really appreciate all that you and your father are doing. I’ve just started the diet recently and I see you’ve mentioned to basically stick to Olive oil and Coconut Oil, however both of these have a very low smoke point so i’ve been having some issues using them to cook my steaks.

    Are there any other oils with a higher smoke point that you’ve cleared? Or maybe there’s another solution to this problem that i’m missing?

    Thanks again.

      • Taylor says:

        I grill or bake most of my meat..usually I use steak
        with more fat (so you can forgo the oil) seared in a cast iron pan, then you throw the whole thing in the oven till it is done.

    • Jan says:

      Believe avocado oil has smoke point around 520 degrees. I use that or uncured bacon grease or pasture-raised beef tallow! Yumm!

  8. Rosie Moore says:

    Hi Mikhaila,
    I’ve been on your elimination diet for six weeks now and I can’t describe how much better I feel! I think I’ve got my life back. A few months ago I was so exhausted I could hardly get out of bed, and now I’m coming first in my age group at the weekly 5km parkrun! I’ve re-introduced sweet potatoes, onions, coconut milk and one egg every 4 days, which were the foods I missed most, and they have given me no problem. I am also still avoiding the foods which my IGG allergy test told me to avoid: Garlic, carrots, potatoes, brocolli, sweet peppers, celery, nightshades, yeast and parsley, paprika and pepper. Yeast is the hardest to keep out, as it is in so much food, but to be honest I’ll do anything to keep feeling as good as I do. I’ve worked out how to cook this way and it’s getting much easier as I’ve frozen single pieces of meat and stocks in ice cubes which I cook as soon as I need them. My veggie garden provides most of my veggies and I stirfry or roast them in olive and coconut oil. I’ve also been able to tolerate a single espresso in the morning with a teaspoon of coconut oil, but sadly, no alcohol or milk. Thank you for giving me the confidence to try this diet. I will never go back to my old way of eating and it is so good to have a soft stomach that isn’t cramping and bloating all the time. Also no more headaches, insomnia or depression. I feel alive again!

      • rosemarymoore123 says:

        Sure Mikhaila, I’m happy for it to go on the testimony page. There are so many other benefits I haven’t even mentioned since being in the diet. My brain is sharper and I feel connected to people. It’s weird how I lived with brain fog and a ‘sleepy’ detached feeling for so long I didn’t realise how debilitating it was.

  9. Terry says:

    I have pretty severe anxiety and a good does of depression, enough to stop my from working my old job. I stopped drinking and started smoking weed. Now I am starting your diet, but I watched a Joe Rogan episode where he talked to a neurologist who focused on sleep and the message was weed and alcohal stop the 4rth stage of rem sleep and that is physically bad. My problem is that weed instantly stops my anxiety. I don’t know what to make of this. I can have instant relief but Im not sure its good for me. Do you have any suggestions?
    (Sorry this is a little hard to read, but I have a hard time focusing when I am anxious.

  10. Bliss says:

    Obviously I am not Mikhaila, so maybe this won’t count to you, but if you are serious, I’d ditch the weed. As a step, you could experiment with no weed the last 4 hours before you go to bed.
    Weed doesn’t really stop anxiety. It basically masks anxiety. Even if it did though, there are non-drug ways to work with that. Meditation, prayer, and just plain ole’ working on seeing things realistically.
    Man, there is so much more.
    You didn’t even ask me.
    Good luck!

  11. Thank you for the information and testimony you have shared. I have only recently discovered the teaching of your father and heard him mention your diet in an interview. So I have started the keto diet but after listening to more will try eating meat and greens. Having been medicated for depression for 50+ years, (I am now inmy 80’s), with osteoarthritis, diabetes and hypertension, high cholesterol, I am ready to make big changes to my life.

  12. Andreas says:

    Very interesting diet and results. If this can help people with a lot of serious issues it is a good thing but I think we should also remember that this doesn’t mean that meat is necessarily healthy in every way. It could be that the change in gut flora that comes with eating only meat is good for bad autoimmune disease responses but that it causes other diseases over long time.

  13. Ben Blackhall says:

    Hey Mikhail, thank you for the infromation that you have provided, this is awesome work. At present I pretty much follow the diet, however i do have two eggs every morning for breakfast and also i do have Banannas and Apples as fruit. Am I correct in saying that for a elimination diet I have to cut out all eggs and fruits?

    Hope all is well, thanks

  14. Jon says:

    I want to turn my life around and i think diet might be a huge part of it.
    I’d assume most meals are greens and meat, but what about breakfast? Could you post examples of some of the dishes you eat? That would be awesome!

    • Nicholas Leeson says:

      Jon, I’m experimenting with this too. Monday through Friday I have organic oats (with boiled water, not milk) with fruit such as blue berries, raspberries, strawberries. Etc. On the weekends I have omelettes with chopped onion, chopped asparagus, and chopped mushroom (woodland mushrooms, such as Oyster), and use Coconut oil. I’m thinking I might start having Wild Salmon for breakfast soon too, as I’m trying to improve my Omega 3 levels. Best of luck.

  15. How do eggs fit in (or not ) to your diet?
    And what has been your experience with protein powder?
    Great site. I first heard your father speak of the issues you and he had and how the diet changed your life.
    Amazing!

  16. Nicholas Leeson says:

    Have you ever had your microbiome measured? With all those antibiotics you had as a child, the diversity of your microbiome is likely to be very incredibly poor. Research has shown that this leads to poor health, such as allergies, leaky gut, and depression.

      • Nicholas Leeson says:

        Hi Glenn, there’s lots of books out there. I’m currently reading The Diet Myth by Tim Spector, who is running MapMyGut in the UK, as well as British Gut (similar to the American Gut project) and TwinsUK. Another book I’ve read is Missing Microbes by Martin Blaser. Also, check out the Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer. Another book is This Is Your Bain On Parasites by Kathleen McAuliffe, which discussed research from McMaster University in Ontario Canada (my old uni) that showed when people, who were suffering severe depression, were put on heavy doses of probiotics for 2-3 months, were cured! This was reiterated in the Diet Myth. Note, serotonin is mostly produced by your gut microbes, and with all the antibiotics we consume, we’ve depleted our diversity. This is why babies and old people get sick easily. If you want to avoid antibiotics, stick to grass fed animals, and wild salmon. Most farmed animals/fish get fed feed with antibiotics in them, to increase/ensure the farmers yield, which then get into you after you’ve consumed their meat. Another book you might want to read is The Gut Makeover by Jeannette Hyde. And lastly, Gut, by Giulia Enders. Research into this field growing, but best to start now. First I’d get your microbiome measured. Following your test, start eating foods that have been fermenting, such as Kefir, Kimchi, etc, and eat a lot of fibre (fibre is what feeds your microbiome). And also get your omega 6 (ARA) to omega 3 (EPA) ratio measured. Hope that helps 🙂

          • Nicholas Leeson says:

            Fiber recommendations – anything mother nature made. I believe asparagus can only be digested by your gut bacteria, as I think it’s mostly (if not completely) fiber (I add asparagus to my omelettes). Apples and Bananas are another good example. Note, the sugar/fructose in an apple is the good sugar, since it is covered in fiber, so it takes time for your body to get to that sugar, and thus you do not get a massive sugar spike. I believe almost all fruit and vegetables come with fiber. Honey is one natural example that does not have fiber though. I’m no nutritionist though, so be sure to do your own research. Also note worthy is that Bananas come with Tryptophan, which the body uses to convert to Serotonin for the brain. Although most serotonin is produced by your gut bacteria, this serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier. Instead, I believe the tryptophan you get from food ‘can’ cross this blood brain barrier, which is a precursor for it to be turned into serotonin, so it helps with your mood. Also, spices! Spices are a great source of fiber. In fact, my recollection is that spices were originally consumes to increase ones health, and that is now being attributed to the increase in diversity of your gut microbiome. I’ve just purchased a spice called Cayenne, as it apparently is good for adding the bacterium called Akkermansia, another one I do not have in my microbiome. Hope that helps 🙂

  17. Eric says:

    There’s no doubt abt that Nicholas. I heard 90% of serotonin produced in the gut! She should definitely get with the American Gut Project. As should everyone. I did. although now that she’s eating so well with great nutritional fiber (ie the cure) she should be much much better off. But yes no brainer to get it checked. By the way, very soon it will be readily avail to everyone to sequence right at their phone. They already have sequencers the size of a finger.

    • Nicholas Leeson says:

      Cool Eric. I did MapMyGut in the UK about this time last year. Gonna follow up on it again in about 6 months. My diet has completely changed. Do you know what bacteria you need in your gut to produce the serotonin? Nice one about it becoming readily available to sequence right at their phone. How’s that going to work?

      • Eric Koepp says:

        No I dont know. And it may be different for everyone! Although I did see that in a recent 2017 study that lactobacillus rhamnosus hn001 helped post postpartum depression in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. I bet a high very high quality, multistrain, 20 billion+ could help many people. In this study, this result was a side effect as they were studying eczema in the child. In fact, I have been testing on my self and the same thing happened to me. I cleared my eczema by accident, in 4 days. Truly magical. Great book recommendations by the way. You can add The Good Gut to that list. By Erica and Justin Sonnenburg. There’s also a great class you take at coursera on the microbiome. Also keep in mind that diets are not one size fits all. there is a great video of Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute of Science discussing this. But it sounds like we are on the verge of big thing in re to personalized medicine. His big data shows how people react differently to the same exact diet. I retweet a lot of this info at eczemapro!

        • Nicholas Leeson says:

          Nice one. In my amazon basket of ‘things to buy’, I have ‘Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Ultimate Care’, which has 100 billion cultures and includes the Rhamnosus strain, so I’m good to go there 🙂 Which probiotics are you taking? Am gonna wait to take any probiotics until after I’ve had my microbiome measured again, to see if simply eating right has put natural probiotics in there (my first test indicated no lactobacillus, no bifodobacterium, and no bacillus – Yikes!). Just added your book recommendation of The Good Gut to my amazon basket too. Thanks for the tips. You might find this interesting. It’s another study showing the benefits of fasting, specifically how fasting for 24 hours improves your adult stem cells in the intestines, which helps to regenerate its inner lining.
          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180503142852.htm
          The Gut Makeover said something similar, as its instructions were to fast for 12 hours every day for a month between dinner and breakfast. For example, finish eating dinner by 7pm, and then eat breakfast starting at 7am (no snacks in between) (and no bread during this month too). This should help the gut to regenerate. Thus, if a 24 hours fast isn’t ideal, the 12 hour fasts is another good option.

  18. Kate Thomas says:

    Hi. Absolutely amazing journey you have experienced Mikhaila! I heard about you from your father of course and now that I’ve seen you interview on YouTube about this diet your on now, I am so intrigued. I am wondering if you have an opinion on avacados. More importantly Avocado oil. I use it on my whole body in place of lotion after a shower. Lotions tend to have so many bad ingredients that lead to cancer and such. Our skin is such an important organ that what we put on it can be life changing. Would you recommend an oil for skin or can you tell me if you use any “moisturizers” for your skin?

    • Since going to the carnivore diet my skin is so much more moisturized. I used to react very badly to soaps and needed to use moisturizer on my lips nightly. Now soaps don’t seem to bother me as much (I still avoid the really chemically ones), and I have no dry skin. I used to use coconut oil on my body and lanolin on my lips but now there’s no need. I’d definitely use an oil like what you’re doing, I like coconut oil better than avocado (avocado’s didn’t make me feel great).

  19. If you are planning an elimination diet. Get your gut microbiome (bacteria) checked. And see someone who can interpret it. You can eat to fix your gut, because this can be the cause of disease. So far this has been true for my fatigue, arthritis and eczema.

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