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

442 thoughts on “The Diet

  1. Sofia Renee says:

    I smiled so much when I saw your diet list because I have been on almost the identical diet for 3 yrs, including the abolishment of fruit. 🙂 I didn’t brilliantly come to these conclusions myself as you did. You might already know this, but there is a doctor who recommends your diet and has similar experiences with patients as you found for yourself (e.g. not everyone is better on probiotics), along with an incredibly fascinating healing program based on mineral tissue analysis. He combines your diet with detox procedures( e.g. infrared sauna) and supplements based on the patterns of your tissue test (others use tissue tests but look at absolute values). There are literally only 100 people trained in his program worldwide, so I was blown away that you’re on the same diet by chance, and I thought I’d share with you if you want to “take things to the next level” lol. The site is a bit weird and is called nutritionalbalancing.com There is a Facebook group called “nutritional balancing friends” with about 900 people from around the world that you can connect with. Also, since we are eating so similarly here are some of my recipes touchybelly.com. Not sure what you’ll think of my comment lol, but I am just blown away that someone out there that’s my age eats like me ha ha (not that we want to).I never had some of the extreme issues you describe(but there’s a lot of overlap), but I feel like I’ve so been there in a way and wanted to reach out. Especially because your dad is so awesome lol. Best of luck and feel free to e mail me about the program, it’s been life changing so I’m more than happy to share..clearly lol.

    • Your recipes look delicious. I don’t usually recommend mustard (bad reaction to it from both my dad and I), but people from this blog could definitely go to yours for ideas. It is very similar, I’m not surprised though. These foods are anti inflammatory for most people 🙂

  2. Reed Nystrom says:

    Hi Mikhaila — do you know how much it matters whether you eat grass-fed and/or hormone-free beef, at least from your own experience? I’m starting this diet in a couple days and I want to make sure I do it right, given that high quality meat is obviously a lot more expensive and I’ll be eating a lot of it. Thanks.

  3. James Austin says:

    Hi Mikhaila

    (reporting this in case you didn’t get the notification for the last one. If you’re super busy I of course understand)

    Big fan of your dad’s and so good to read about this diet in detail after watching those TVO specials on depression.

    A lot (I would say most) of the items on the list seem to fit perfectly with a keto diet, as would the high fat consumption, but high protein intake and sweet potatoes don’t.

    I know that the aim of the diet is to identify food intolerances and reactions, but I’d be curious for your thoughts on diatry induced Ketosis and how it may or may not relate to the health benefits you’ve experienced on your diet. Also, are you yourself often in ketosis?

    Asking as one week into my Keto diet that looks very similar to yours (basically swap out the carbon rich vegetables like sweet potato for dairy and nuts), it’s doing nothing for me and I’m thinking why not just take the full Peterson plunge?

    Thanks
    James

    • Do the full Peterson plunge! Dairy is evil. Almonds might be not great for you as well. I’m always in ketosis. I was in ketosis on the original diet (the one dad does), and I’m still in ketosis doing all meat. I don’t think the benefit is the fact you’re in ketosis, I think it’s the foods you cut out and ketosis is coincidental. It’s hard to say though. The amount of sweet potatoes/parsnips are so low in this diet that they won’t boot you out of ketosis unless that’s all you eat in a meal.

      • Donny says:

        One thing I’ve been trying to figure out with this diet is if it’s ketogenic or not. With all the meat you’re eating, aren’t you dropping out due to gluconeogenesis?

        So you’re saying (not to borrow a meme from your dad) that if I were to have like 1/2 a sweet potato on lifting days that it wouldn’t kick me out of ketosis?

        #Confused

        • haha. So it depends on the person, half a sweet potato wouldn’t have kicked me out of ketosis, but it would lessen it. On the original diet (with sweet potatoes and parsnips), Dad and I were both always in ketosis. The only time I stopped being in ketosis was when I made myself a pile of sweet potatoes deep fried in coconut oil. They were so good. I probably ate the equivalent of 3 sweet potatoes and the next day I wasn’t in ketosis.

          I’m still in ketosis on an all meat diet. Gluconeogenesis doesn’t seem to be occurring (at least not enough to kick me out of ketosis).

  4. Dario says:

    This is incredible, thanks for sharing. A friend’s aunt had a similar disease and she cured it with her diet as well! I have learned so much from this.
    A question, I currently eat quinoa, oats and beans, would you cut them too?
    Thank you

    • Unfortunately yes… Replace with meat and green veggies. If you need to keep one of those, I had the least problem with oats – but still a problem. You don’t need any of those, they’re just filler!

  5. Tom says:

    Hi Mikhaila. Thank you for your blog.

    I have had depression since I was a child with more or less the same symptoms as what you listed (incl. OCD). As your father puts it in the video, it is a part of death. I feel it as if death has latched on me from the back, putting its weight on and off, and I cannot but inhale its fume. Things are foggy – memory, perception, attention – and I get a sniff of sheer horror, which visits me frequent enough to keep life so stripped of meaning. I cry at night. This is much much worse than any physical pains I know.

    Honestly the diet is the last thing I would ever think of on my own as a solution to a condition like this. But I am willing to do anything at this point.

    With regard to meat, there are different labels – organic, free range, etc. Do you or your family find that they matter?

    • I haven’t found that it’s mattered with meat. I avoid antibiotics in meat, but when I’ve eaten meat with antibiotics it hasn’t given me a reaction. Definitely try the diet, but be EXTREMELY careful. If you’re depression is as bad as you write, you’ll have to be very careful about making a mistake. If you need some support, shoot me an email.

  6. Do you worry about vitamins? When I was educated (mostly in the 1960s) I was taught that some vitamins are essential, or almost essential, and I’ve never questioned that. Like vitamin C helps with immunity to colds and other viruses.

    Do you believe that? Do you try to make sure you are getting vitamins and perhaps a few essential trace minerals, like iodine?

    • I’m not worried at all. I was initially on the diet, but I’m not anymore. I’ve had my vitamins tested multiple times throughout my life (one comprehensive test quite recently). My B vitamins are low (other than B12), but not because of lack of them in my diet. I’ve taken different vitamins at different times and I took a trace minerals pill for a while. Nothing seemed to make a difference (on tests and how I felt). I do currently take Vitamin C. I also take a high dose of Vitamin D3. Again, I haven’t felt any different but I’ve read a ton of articles on the benefits of both vitamins, and they don’t make me worse.

  7. gala says:

    Hello mikhaila! i am going to start your diet to try get rid of my joint and muscle inflammation, digestive issues, fatigue etc.
    i already cut out gluten for a month and it helped a lot

    i wanted to ask if honey is ok on the elimination diet
    and if it matters what honey i buy
    thank you!

    • I wouldn’t recommend honey, but to be completely honest, I was eating it when I first went on an elimination diet. The type of honey didn’t seem to matter, and it didn’t bother me like sugar or some fruits did. If you need something sweet, it seems to be pretty safe. (I lost my tolerance to honey later though).

  8. Rob says:

    I was inspired by the video of you and your dad on YouTube. I never went on any diet my entire life because I’ve never been overweight or felt the need to. Having said that I suffer from depression and the same problems with focus and short term memory that you had. Though Anti-depressants never gave me noticeable relief so I gave up on that avenue. Being in college, I basically eat what ever I want and what ever is convenient. I really see potential in your diet though. I started eating only chicken and broccoli for dinner with protein (eggs) for breakfast, cutting out as many carbs as possible so maybe I can reap similar benefits. Being on a diet like this will inadvertently create some order too! I think this diet would be fantastic with regular exercise. From what Ive been told, a high protein diet like this can help with muscle gains. I love cereal and dairy but I am willing to stay clean for months even.. If it means positive improvement in my alertness and mind. (Diet never occurred to me when it comes to mental health)

  9. Britz says:

    Sorry if posted already but have you ever wondered about the possibility of vaccine damage and food sensitivities?

    I’m currently trying to change diet to improve health, supposed fibro/CFS.

    You and your family are an absolute inspiration. 💖

  10. Sebastian says:

    Hey Mikhaila

    I’ve been having trouble with anxiety-induced insomnia for the first time since december and it’s been absolutely ridicolous. I have been an avid bodybuilder for two years, this disorder has taken everything from me, so as a last resort I have gone for an antidepressant treatment (lexapro) and light therapy since last week. There have been several episodes where the idea of suicide was a delicate one, so I had to get on the meds. I hate the fact that the medication numbs my emotions and I was thinking about starting this diet. The problem is my metabolism, i’m burning a lot of calories. With this diet I might lose the last of my muscle mass which would have been quite sad. I’m just wondering how can I incorporate all these dietary adjustments in an orderly fashion without leaving me in a state of atrophy.

    Big fan of your father, he’s been kind of a liberator in a time of true despair, and thank you for your story and the creation of this diet.

    Sebastian

    • Eat meat. You won’t lose muscle. I had to convince my husband that he didn’t need carbs to work out too. Follow Shawn Baker (Instagram I find is the most useful). He posts pictures of people who have gone all meat. He eats that himself and he’s huge. The idea that you need protein supplements and carbs to get muscle is just wrong. You’ll hear people concerning themselves with glycogen, etc., but I’d recommend you try it for a month and see how you feel. If it doesn’t help the depression, try all meat. You may get leaner, but you won’t lose muscle.

Leave a Reply