The 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. Good morning Mikhaila Peterson
    Congrats on your phenomenally creative parents
    As for diet, salt is the organic poison which perpetuates and strengthens disorders
    Please try a 60 days zero salt diet for an even healthier you

  2. Thanks for all your valuable insight, Mikhaila! Is black coffee still okay to drink when on a diet like this? I typically use a french press so no need for filters or anything like that since I saw you mentioned those might cause some issues.

  3. Hi Mikhaila,
    I was wondering if you could clarify the part about alcohol on your list. You have it listed in acceptable things to eat for the elimination diet but then said, not for the first month. Can you drink bourbon and vodka or is that something to be reintroduced?

    Also, I’ve been prescribed adderall since I was 12 (29 currently). It’s part of the reason for my anxiety. However, I’m quite dependent on it for my job. I don’t want to take it anymore but I honestly don’t think I can do it on my own. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to just stop taking it, cold turkey. Is that a problem for the elimination diet? Should I stop taking it and fight it for 2 weeks until I see results? Or can I take it during the diet and once I start to feel better, then start weening off?

    1. Bourbon and vodka are okay for the first month. Not whiskey, specifically bourbon, and vodka. Keep the meds until you feel better. No need for any extra suffering.

  4. Good morning! I am 42, mother of 7. I’ve started this diet 2 weeks ago but haven’t been faithful. Still I’ve lost a few pounds and do feel clearer in my thinking. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis that started in her late 40’s, worried I might get it. I’ve got high blood pressure I think is due to stress and weight gain in the last 6 years. Since I’m already feeling better I decided my children that are at home should do this too. I have an 8 year son who has baggy eyes, always tired, some minor skin issues, and underweight like he isn’t thriving and growing. His sister that is almost 2 yrs younger is the same weight and height & healthier. I’ve had him seen for 4years now by a doctor and finally an allergist who says he very allergic to mites cats and dogs. After going on medication for this and changing sheets and getting a air filter he still is very tired all the time, his legs and joints hurt for days after hiking or just running around with other kids and there are still bags under his eyes. He has a high count of white blood cells nearly all the time but no sickness. I can’t tell you how I know but I just sense that something is wrong so I’ve taken him off sugar and breads. Which is what he like the best. He’s having a hard time with this. It’s only the second day and he’s, well sad. Breakfast was an egg and 2 cucumber chips this morning. I’ve not eliminated milk for now. He loves the jerky and lunch is no problem or dinners. My question is what would you suggest for breakfast for kids that might make this more bare-able?

    1. Just feed him what he likes for lunch and dinner at breakfast. I have had hamburger, chicken and pork for breakfast many times and feel a lot better.
      P.S Definitely cut out the milk too. You should know from this blog that dairy, sugar and grains are probably the three biggest culprits to poor digestion.

  5. How about nuts? Dr. Peterson mentioned almonds were quite problematic for him. What’s your take on nuts? Did you find any you could handle? I love pecans…

  6. Hi! Quick question for anyone who has been on an elimination diet for a while… I’m on day 10 and I feel very tired despite a solid 8 hours of sleep every night (this diet does not allow any type of caffeine). Did anyone experience this?

    1. I didn’t see that you couldn’t have caffeine, I drink a cup of black coffee every morning.

    2. Black and green tea are both allowed, which have caffeine. I’m sure our bodies go through almost a kind of withdrawal period from excess carbs and sugar, so that could last a couple weeks and be the culprit.

    3. Thank you for your reply! The thing is, I am not doing exactly the same Elimination Diet. I use the one from Precision Nutrition which is more strict on some foods (such as caffeine/theine) and less on others (they allow rice even though I decided to cut it anyways). Like you, I also think my body is slowly adapting to this new diet. I did feel withdrawal symptoms during the first week (sugar and coffee). I was VERY tired, I had headaches and I was very bitchy. loll I’m starting the 3rd week tomorrow and even though I still feel tired, I’m doing much better. Thank you again!

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