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The Paleo Elimination Diet (That “Cured” Me Before the Lion Diet)

By Mikhaila

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/lion diet. 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:

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 reintroduce

  • 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

Join the Conversation

444 Comments

  1. I don’t think I have any diet sensitivities but I am really bad at finding things to eat. I have trouble spending the time to shop and cook them–I don’t know what to get! This diet seems appealing because it’s simple!

    I’ve had consistent lower back pain and stomach discomfort for about five years. Perhaps this diet will fix it. I think I’ll try it out.

    What do you eat for breakfast? I saw you said avocados are no good. Those things wreck my stomach! But I love ’em. What about avocados trigger your depression?

  2. I wonder if bad food combining plays a role in any of these problems.
    Some say not to mix certain foods, like potatoes and meat.
    No carbs mixed with proteins. Fruits eaten alone. Etc.
    They say the carb ferments in the stomach while the body is working on the protein, etc.
    There’s a lot to it, in a way, but if it is true and a person is eating sweet potatoes with steak and having problems, it is possible it is because of the fermentation and digestion problems this combination is causing.
    I am not saying I do not believe in food sensitivities, or even that in someone’s case like Mikhaila’s it would make a difference, but I wonder, if Mikhaila ate a plate of just sweet potatoes, waited an hour and then ate a steak, would she find the sweet potatoes still mess her up? Probably, but it’s a another factor to consider.

  3. Mikhaila,
    Just starting to explore your site and I can’t say how much I appreciate it. I found you through following your dad. I started the Paleo diet about a year ago to help with my long term psoriatic arthritis and gastrointestinal problems. Lost over 20 pounds and see lots of other improvements especially in gastrointestinal problems. Humera lessens the arthritis but not to a great extent. Don’t understand why you eliminated fruit though. Hoping to learn more from you. Although at my age (52) results may differ. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I did an elimination diet for a while, and I wasn’t feeling better, until I ate super plain. I was eating very soupy potato soup for almost two weeks, and more solids and then I really felt better, but I ate gluten and felt bad again. It didn’t really hurt me badly until I ate gluten cookies. Sugar and gluten kill me. Well, I did the elimination diet again, and my severe constipation went away and I wasn’t feeling back to normal, I had anxiety but better managed. Well, I reintroduced gluten, like an idiot, and today I’ve been fighting not to have a massive panic attack and also have severe burning seeking pain in my stomach. Very hypersensitive to sounds, bleeding sores in my head, itching all over, joint pains etc etc. The anxiety is the freaking worst of it all. I would be ok with everything else but this panic feeling is awful. I know exactly what it is, too. It’s pressure on the recum area, after I had constipated bowel movements again for a week, it irritated me, and now, any pressure or gas on that area, probably a nerve (vagus nerve more then likely) causes me straight into panic. When I was eating super strict, all of these symptoms went away.

    1. Hey Caila,

      I have had a number of decades with food intolerances but not as extreme as yours. Definitely one of the hardest things for me was to stay committed to the strict diet. So many times when I would start to feel better I thought I could start going back to my old eating habits, just a little bit. But eventually, if not immediately, I would get knocked down numerous times. Then when I was starting to feel poorly I would say “screw it” I feel sick already and don’t care if I get more sick and I would eat more harmful food to my body. A very difficult cycle to deal with.
      Keep trying to stay with your intention of good health, proper eating and the process will get better and easier. I hope you have read all of Mikhaila’s posts. There is a lot of helpful information in there to keep you from making more painful mistakes on your own.
      Good Luck

  5. 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

    1. 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

  6. 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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