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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. 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.

    1. 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?

    2. 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!

    3. 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.
      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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. Did you ever consider doing a 2 or 3 day water fast where you get into deep ketosis and allow your gut to “heal” maybe? It should be rather easy considering that you already don’t consume any carbs. I have heard of people who do it every week.

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