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

316 thoughts on “The Diet

  1. Freya says:

    Hi Mikhaila,
    Congratulations on finding a dietary solution! I can understand this journey. I also went through a search for answers through dietary restrictions and tried lots of things, some of which helped but didn’t address the whole picture. It took one doctor to look at my list of symptoms (they’re similar – digestive issues, muscle/joint pain, fatigue, depressive episodes and panic attacks, nausea, heart palpitations, …) and suggest I might have a histamine intolerance. It turns out I do, and since I’ve followed the low-histamine diet my symptoms have gone away. Have you heard of histamine intolerance before? I ask because your safe-food list looks a lot like mine. Over here in Germany histamine intolerance is a fairly well-known problem, but I’ve heard that’s not the case in other countries. The intolerance can be hereditary (like mast cell activation disorder) or it can develop spontaneously like mine. I’ve read it can also accompany Celiac’s. Thought I’d mention it because I’m amazed none of the other comments have! Wishing you the best,
    Freya
    P.S. The worst “high histamine” offenders are red wine, preserved meats, hard cheeses, fermented foods, soy, shellfish, tomato sauces.

    • I tried that. I looked into histamine intolerance, and mast cell activation disorder, and a whole slew of other things. It’s not that unfortunately, thanks for the kind words!

  2. Zak Radtke says:

    Hi Mikhaila, I found your blog after finding your dad and watching his videos and reading his book the last few months. I have auto-immune symptoms but have never been diagnosed with anything. But I’m super excited to try your diet and am going to start it soon. I’m wondering if greens not on this list such as kale, celery, and asparagus are ok? Thank you for your blog and sharing this information with others and for figuring it all out for yourself to begin with.

    • Celery was a huge problem for me. Don’t ask why, I can’t explain it. Celery seems to bother my husband and dad too. Kale I have a hard time digesting (but hell I’m only eating meat now anyway.) I’d say that’s safe. Asparagus had too much sugar in it for me. It wasn’t as bad a reaction as celery though.

  3. Laura says:

    Hi, I’m very intrigued and am planning on starting this on Monday. I’ve been doing a form of this diet bout not so restrictive…I’ve had some success but still a lot of joint pain and also very short tempered. I’m hoping sticking to just meat and greens will be the answer. I like lemon and oil on my greens…are lemons ok? What about goat feta?

    • I haven’t tried goat feta, but I’d recommend cutting that. I also didn’t try to reintroduce lemons, but they don’t seem like a huge issue. No IgG reaction, and very low sugar.

  4. Steven Nelsen says:

    in the list of ingredients used i notice that green beans are not listed.

    did you have a bad reaction to them? or is there something in them that denies them from this list?

    (I have 0 knowledge about nutrition just asking cause i like green beans but am willing to try this diet to see if it will give me more energy to face each day)

    • Green beans were actually one of the foods that I thought might be safe (before I went zero carb). They’re not a common IgG food and fairly low in sugar, so that might be one you could keep

  5. Johannah says:

    Hi so happy to find you blog. Today is the day I’m done. I need to make some changes. I am so overweight and it’s not comming off despite efforts. I’ve had shingles twice this year and a genuinely feel like shit. I’m so tired and depressed. Anyway… while I figure it the logistics of managing this diet I have one BIG question. Coffee!! I drink 2-5 cups a day now and the thought of cutting it out compleatly is a little terrifying. Is there anyway I can keep it in. I have so much brain fog I actually didn’t even notice I could leave a comment so please disregard the email I sent asking this same question. Thank you for the hard work u put in to sharing this info. And I look forward to my lifestyle change but I’m admittedly very nervous.

    • Cut out the really bad stuff. Focus on meat, get rid of the sugar, grains, soy. You can let coffee go last. Once you’re not as poisoned by food, it’ll be easier to let go, and you won’t feel like you need it.

  6. Alex says:

    Hi Mikhaila,

    I recently posted the below a while ago. I never got a response and it says still awaiting moderation. Not sure if you missed it so I’ll post it again.

    I found this website after following a tweet from Jordan Peterson. I would find it odd if you didn’t accept the post because it disagreed with you or a narrative you’ve made. I would have thought open respectful dialogue would be a good thing. In order to think, I guess you have to risk offending…

    I have a few concerns about your claims on gluten (and other foods) that I think are actually contributing to unfounded fears around the world. Never mind that people have been eating gluten for thousands of years. All of a sudden it is responsible for a bunch of physical and psychological disorders?

    This might work for you, but to extrapolate and make it seem like the treatment of many illnesses is probably doing more harm than good. If such a silver bullet solution existed, health care and medicine would be a lot more simple and straightforward.

    I think it is commendable that you have found a solution for your own problems and want to share it. However, if you’re going to use anecdotes and personal experience to back claims, I will give you one. My family come from southern Italy, where they have eaten bread and pasta as staples of their diet, as well as fruit and vegetables. They all lived to over 90 and had a high quality of life (with the exception of the year(s) leading to their death). Was it the food? Was it the lifestyle? Was it the sense of purpose they had to work, their families and their communities? They spent less time sitting watching TV and more time moving and doing things; did that contribute significantly?? Maybe it was all of them or a combination.

    Anyway, I am glad you found a solution for yourself, your family and you are doing well. I just hope you can step back and re-evaluate what you say and how you communicate your beliefs (such as diet alone fixing many, if not most, health problems), because I think there are serious dangers in some of the claims you make. Some of these generalisations, I think, are unfounded from a scientific perspective. Please don’t see this as a personal attack. If you would like to discuss this further I am all ears. All the best.

  7. Carl says:

    I’ll get to the point since living a life (55+ years) of Depression Hell, numerous “Psychiatrist”, numerous Medications, I am so tired of life. I’ve tried everything. Everything, and had actually decided just a few weeks ago, to finally end the pain, (which unfortunately requires suicide), until I stumbled across you and your dad………By shear luck,the very first video I watched of his STOPPED me cold……..He was in his class room and it was like he was talking just to me…….I actually started crying……. Then I searched out your story and felt like the biggest pathetic cry baby compared to what you have gone through. …..I’m going to do exactly what you (and your dad) recommend since I can’t take this world/life anymore. ……. NO CARBS…..(I was labelled “Treatment Resistant”……so I got snarky with one of the docs and said…”I’m not bullet resistant”. Ha..Suicide humor)…….Please tell your dad to run for Prime Minster of Canada. Thank you so much.

  8. Hugo says:

    Hi! How can you sleep well without carb? At the begining, is it too hard to have a good mood without it? Is it possible not to lose muscle following this diet?

  9. Sandra says:

    Hi, Mikhaila

    I was wondering about the lack of dairy. How do you get calcium? Lots of bony fish? Or supplements?

    Keep well.

  10. Manuel says:

    Hi, I tried leave a comment a while ago, seems like it didn’t go through. Here it is, thank you!

    How sure are you about eating sweet potatoes?

    They have more carbohydrates than regular potatoes and they have more than 5 times the sugar regular potatoes have.

    Knowing my cravings I already know I would have probably 10 or more of them a day if they’re allowed 😉

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