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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. Hey Mikhaila, I have a quick question. What do you know about eating mushrooms as a part of this diet?

    1. I tried them and they really upset my digestion. I was reacting to something at the time so it wasn’t a particularly clean experiment but I just decided no. You could try and reintroduce them after the first month? They don’t strike me as something particularly dangerous like grains or soy.

  2. Hey Mikhaila! I recently stumbled upon your diet plan and I was curious as to why pork wasn’t included in the allowed meats?!?

    1. yes, that’s my question as well.
      From the list of meats here, beef is way too expensive to list regularly (over twice the price of pork or chicken), duck and turkey are unavailable, lamb is even more expensive than beef, and wild game prices (if available at all) are through the roof as it’s only sold at specialty delis and during Christmas season at hyperinflated prices.

      As is, pork and chicken are the staples of my diet, with the occasional portion of ground beef (which is affordable, don’t ask me what cuts they make it from to make it half the price of stew beef) or a small steak as a special treat.

      Same with apple cider vinegar. Very hard to get and if you get it it’s insanely expensive (think a quarter liter bottle costing twice as much as a liter of regular vinegar).

      Personally, I also don’t think sweet potatoes have any place in this diet as they’re chock full of starch and sugars, they’re even worse than regular potatoes in that regard. I limit myself to leaf vegetables only, works for me.

    2. I would like to know to this question too.

      I live in Poland, beef meat is less available and more expensive here. Now I eat a lot of burgers (MC Donalds too) and some steaks (these are expensive) and it would be very comfortable to me to include pork.

  3. Hey mikhaila, from your experience and what you’ve seen. Has the diet helped people with skin issues on the face? Dermatitis, rashes/acne that, dry red skin that doesn’t seem to go away?

  4. Hi I have recently found out that I am pregnant, is it safe to be on the carnivore diet?

    1. No, it is not. You can become deficient in vitamins / minerals on a carnivore only diet. Your baby requires all of the vitamins/ minerals. That means eating a variety of foods, and also taking a prenatal vitamin. I suggest you discuss this question with your OBGYN who has trained for 7+ years in medical school.

    2. I’m not deficient. And for my next pregnancy I’m not introducing vegetables. I don’t think the medical community knows what they’re talking about considering they still think we need dairy and grains to thrive. The medical system cost me my hip and ankle joint. Do whatever makes you feel the healthiest. I did vitamin infusions during my pregnancy just in case (through a naturopath). Whatever diet reduces your symptoms is probably best for you.

  5. *I originally posted this on Dr. Peterson’s facebook link to the healthline article on Mikhaila*

    I mean, I’m glad this worked for her, I’ve had Crohn’s Disease since I was 18, and Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 20. I’ve been on Remicade, Humira, Entivyo, and now Stelara. I’m on self shots of Methotrexate, been on Prednisone for YEARS.

    I’ve tried eastern medicines, and naturopathy. I’ve had reiki done, chiropractic, acupuncture. I’ve taken tinctures, and had people wave crystals over me.

    Then when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I got cancer, TWICE. First testicular, then a year later in the left kidney. So then I had 4 cycles of BEP (bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin) Thankfully it’s gone for now.

    I’ve tried damn near every diet I can, the most effective being the anti-candida diet. The problem was though, that I couldn’t and still cannot tolerate many foods because of the Crohn’s. Stronger green vegetables, or anything with seeds are completely out, as are rich fatty foods. Root veggies like carrots and potatoes are ok. That pretty much left me eating JUST white meat. And while I COULD get away with that, biologically, I couldn’t financially.

    Now I’m 36, divorced, and I’ve been on Social Security Disability for years and can’t hold a job. Furthermore, if I get one, I lose what few medical benefits I do have, that took 3 years to fight for. So, I’m stuck living off of $1,180.00 per month with insane amounts of debt (mostly medical).

    Right now, I’m just sort of living like I’m going to die any day now. Not completely without care, but I just eat what I want and pay for it, because everything seems to hurt me and nothing works..

    If someone’s got an idea for me, I’d love to hear it… I’ll post to Mikhaila’s site too and see if anyone has some advice.

    1. Hello Jason, I don’t have substantive advice for you. Just wanted to tell, that your story moved me, and I think you do good also to others by sharing your story, as people have a chance to reflect on it. Good luck with your diet and life.

  6. Hi Jason, Try taking a teaspoon of MSM and Sodium Ascorbate twice a day. It has really helped me and my mum who takes double that amount has had enourmous health benefits. It is very cheap to buy. Also drinking kombucha really helps Crohns as I got a friend at work who has Crohns onto it (she was extremely sceptical) and she has alot less bloating. I make it myself and it is cheap and easy to make. Good luck.

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