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

By Mikhaila


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.


  • 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!


  • 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


  • 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.



  • 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!


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


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. Pretty sure “breakfast” is just another meal like any other. In other words, steak.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

    2. 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 🙂

    3. I did, it wasn’t ridiculously poor. Interestingly I had a ton of carb digesting bacteria and the most recent test I did showed I didn’t have those anymore. I’ll write a post about this actually.

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