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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. Greetings Mikhaila,
    We are the same age, and I suffer from the same ailments as you have had, though my arthritis was not as severe (no joint replacements). I also have 5 types of psoriasis. I also have severe depression and still dealing with it, for I have been doing the 0 carb diet, meat and fat since Sept. 10th but I would cheat (lemon juice and eggs). So honestly I have not been on the diet, today is the actual first day on the 0 carb diet. My question is…What did you eat when you were pregnant? For my husband and I are trying.

  2. I am currently in school for nursing and am fascinated about diets. I have a lot of sensitivities to meat so I wouldn’t be able to do this type of diet. I am curious about the no carbs though. In physiology we learn that our bodies use carbohydrates for fuel. Glucose is turned into ATP and it’s the only form of fuel our body uses, at least that what we are taught. Do you disagree with this? Or is there some sort of scientific studies that show how you get energy from zero carbs? I have been trying to do research and haven’t found so if you have any studies to point me to it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you , Nevera

    1. Low carb diets lead to ketosis where you body uses fat for energy rather than glucose. From WebMD:
      “Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.”

      “For healthy people who don’t have diabetes and aren’t pregnant, ketosis usually kicks in after 3 or 4 days of eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s about 3 slices of bread, a cup of low-fat fruit yogurt, or two small bananas. You can start ketosis by fasting, too.”

      ” Ketoacidosis is what happens when ketosis goes too far. Ketones build up in your blood, and it becomes acidic. Ketoacidosis can cause a coma or death.

      People with diabetes can get ketoacidosis, or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), when they don’t take enough insulin. They can also get DKA when they’re sick or injured, or they don’t get enough fluids and become dehydrated.

      Some people without diabetes can get ketoacidosis, too. It’s caused by alcoholism, starvation, or an overactive thyroid. A healthy low-carb diet shouldn’t cause a problem.”

      So, as the last sentence says A healthy low-carb diet shouldn’t cause a problem.

  3. Needing to eat highly restricted diet to feel healthy and live comfortably is an ominous sign of a degenerating population. Our ancestors (except for aboriginals) were well adapted to heavy carbs in the context of sufficient protein and other nutritional necessities.

    All this degeneracy probably has its origins in the depredations of modern medicine, especially when inflicted on the very young (suppression of infectious disease, just for starters). And so it goes.

    What happens when you can’t even handle a pure-carnivore, or meat with low-carb vegetables, diet anymore? That is where you are headed, until such time as you look for true solutions. No, diet does not and will not cure everything in any meaningful sense.

    1. You seem to be awfully sure that you can do a simple extrapolation of the graph of Mikhaila’s increasing sensitivity to foods and assume she will keep becoming more sensitive to a wider variety of foods. How can you be so sure of yourself that it will continue in that direction if Mikhaila’s autoimmune issues are not degenerating her body anymore? Why will she continue to get worse if she feels so much better? Plus, she’s not even taking these medications you talk about that you think are so poisonous (and a lot of them are). And obviously those medications used to treat her medical conditions couldn’t be the cause of those very conditions in the first place, because the conditions came first.

      And from my understanding of evolution, our ancestors were actually not well adapted to heavy carbs at all. They were mostly hunter-gatherers, and gathering is not exactly very efficient without the invention of agriculture, which came roughly 10,000 years ago, a small blip in time in evolutionary terms. Killing a wild beast yields a massive amount of extremely satiating and nutrient-dense food for the whole tribe, whereas finding a wild patch of berries is not as useful. We’re evolutionarily adapted to a diet consisting of mostly animal products, with a few plant foods thrown in.

      A change in diet cured Mikhaila’s rheumatoid arthritis, hypersomnia, cystic acne, bloating/weight gain, brain fog, toothaches, bad sleep, and even her crippling depression. But hey, “diet does not and will not cure everything in any meaningful sense,” as you say (whatever the hell that means), so I guess we just shouldn’t bother, right?

  4. Hey Mikhaila! I’m curious where you got this list from. Are these foods that you were once able to tolerate or is there some science behind the selection?

  5. Hello,
    Jay here from Canada, very excited to start this program . My only question is how often do you eat the meat? Just when you get hungry or every few hours? And how much would you eat in a sitting?


    1. Whenever you’re hungry! The first month can be pretty weird. I eat just under 2 pounds a day. Usually twice a day (it just ended up feeling right). It looks like the average 6’0 male eats about 2.5-3 pounds. I’m 5’6.

  6. That’s great, so I just eat meat when Im hungry or can I incorporate some Vegetables as well? I’m trying to get an idea to set up a menu. (Chicken & broccoli, steak & parsnips)? Or just Meats as you listed above when Im hungry for the first month?
    I’m 6’4 and about 250lbs so I like to eat a lot but if I’m training as well as this program, I should probably control my portion size!
    If I can get down to about 190lbs, i would be happy.

    Let me know your thoughts, Thanks Mikhaila.

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