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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. Four of us in my family are giving the all meat diet a chance this month because we are suffering from pesky fungal issues, carb sensitivity, bloating and symptoms from autoimmune disease. We are on our 5th day. We had almost 3 days of grassfed beef and started gagging on the taste so we have added in sugar free bacon – which we have all been eating for months. Tonight we’re grilling wild caught salmon. A few of us are quite thin already and don’t need to lose anymore weight – but we don’t do well with carbs.

    The first thing we noticed after the first two days was no bloating!!! AND no craving of carbs!!! AND NO STOMACH PAIN!!! WOW! We feel lean – but not skinny. Hope that makes sense. Mornings are crap for us at this point until we get meat, and some of us drink a homemade adrenal drink of Himalayan salt, Alive organic vitamin C powder and potassium. We live at altitude so we need electrolytes, and it also alleviates any worry about constipation – believe me!

    I am over 65 and have struggled with Hashimotos for 16 years. My diagnosis was delayed several months by my GP who was pushing antidepressants on me. I presented with obvious (to me) thyroid symptoms – constant chills, exhaustion, hair falling out in handfuls, lost memories and severe confusion. I nearly lost my job at a tech company after being a top performer, because my manager found me asleep at my desk twice during those months. I refused the antidepressants because I wasn’t depressed. I was scary sick!

    From 2002 to 2006 I developed chronic hives and respiratory infections every three months, on the dot. I became a pet project for a young doctor who sent me all over our area and beyond to see immunologists, rheumatologists, allergists, etc because she had no idea what all was wrong with me. I had fabulous insurance at the time. When she tested for my thyroid antibodies, my TPO was over 550. Normal for that test was below 40. Of all the doctors I had seen previously, not one tested for thyroid antibodies.

    I began in earnest, energy permitting, to research everything I could find online and a dear friend paid for me to see an alternative practitioner who had helped her son get better from severe thrush. I took my husband with me because her methods sounded like voodoo and I wanted a witness.

    I received immediate help from her!!! Suddenly I began to have energy!!! My family couldn’t believe my first month’s progress, and we all see her now when we need to. It took me another 9 years to put certain pieces together and then I discovered the Autoimmune Protocol. Within 12 months of eliminating lots of foods, my TPO antibodies had reduced to 420. The following year they dropped to 64. I hadn’t had a lung infection for 2 years!! What changed? Food and lifestyle. I ate only meat and raw veggies and took probiotics to get fungal stuff under control. I gave up all grains, sugar, fruit, nuts, sauces, and dairy.

    But a bug and a lung infection prompted a round of antibiotics when I started to cough up small amounts of blood. It was a 5 day antibiotic and I was not warned about it causing sensitivity to the sun. I broke out in severe eczema on my arms and neck after exposing the skin in those areas for about 15 minutes, a full month after I was done taking the antibiotic. I itched my arms in my sleep and developed staph. Back to the doc and another antibiotic and I had to get super serious about sun exposure, water, and made my own skin coating out of emu oil first and then moved to shea butter and jojoba oil. I spent lots of money on emu oil – but the shea butter/jojoba mixture I found on an eczema site worked best to soothe and coat and seal.

    The eczema break out lasted over a year, girdled my torso and back and oozed and itched like crazy. During that year one of my daughters had her wedding in our house, and I did a lot of cleaning and painting before those 80 guests showed up – so a bit of stress there! The next spring my 96 year old father passed away and our family had to deal with a lot of extra things concerning his house and estate. I traveled a lot over the month after his death, which meant a ton of driving over mountain passes. But all in all, I weathered that year well.

    The hives stuck around – but not like they had been. When I first developed hives in 2004 they would come in storms and attack my fingers and make them swell until blood vessels broke. The weals would appear on my palms and wrists and ankles, sides and soles of my feet and I would wake up nightly, itching wherever they attacked.

    (It’s mainly because of the fungal issues that I am on the all meat diet at this point. A relative of my husband’s who was a vegan at the time, was told that the only way to get rid of fungal overgrowth was to eat red meat for a month and nothing – no beer and not anything else. And that worked for him. So here we are, dealing with similar issues.)

    From my research 40% of Hashimotos sufferers with high TPO antibodies develop chronic hives. My hives have steadily been reversing since my TPO antibodies started dropping.

    Epstein Barr has been linked to Hashimotos and many practitioners think it is a root cause. I’ve had EBV twice in my lifetime and have heard of folks who have had it several times. I read that EBV is a newly discovered virus found in the 1960s and that once in the body, it will go deep into tissue and be undetected by current tests until it targets and attacks a system in the body, be it glands or organs – or both.

    I also read that Levothyroxine (Synthroid) was the most prescribed drug in the world for 3 years in a row until 2015-2016(?). One in three people worldwide are expected to develop autoimmune diseases and when you have one, it’s likely that you will develop more if the first one isn’t put into remission or reversed. My mother had a cascade of autoimmunity after she was diagnosed with Hashimotos at around 50. She developed a weird type of traveling rheumatism that attacked different joints daily, and then she had water on the brain that required a shunt from her brain to her intestines, followed by profound dementia. She had chronic dental infections after she had dental implants, which probably meant rounds of antibiotics. She loved sugar. The year before she passed away she caught an intestinal bug and was given tons of alternating antibiotics to suppress it. She developed a horrific case of thrush, and the rehab facility gave her sugary yogurt for a probiotic. The thrush froze her ability to swallow so she needed a feeding tube and was fed sugary Ensure. She died a year later at age 84 from “the dwindles”, because her body stopped producing protein. At that point she chose to starve – and she passed away within 24 hours.

    My personal mission is to reverse my Hashimotos if possible and take down the EBV in my system before it takes me down. Because my GP waited so long to diagnose my thyroid disease, I suffered a brain “event” and my short term memory and word recall are damaged. When I went through the one on one testing for that diagnosis on my brain performance, I wept in front of my tester when it became very obvious how poorly I was performing. I’m vastly improved, but I still have a long way to go.

    We are all excited to see what results we have after our 30 days are over. Thank you for your outspoken blog posts about your journey.

  2. Glad the video was posted on youtube and I found out about exactly the symptoms I am suffering from for years and the further the worst it gets, I will definitely try this diet out.

  3. …just a strange response to share ….I’ve been on the ‘mostly meat’ escapade for about a month, and loving it. I work from home (psychotherapy!) and I drink about a litre, or 6 cups, of coffee a day – its just there in the kitchen keeping hot. I’m never hungry til about 11 am but I do enjoy my coffee. Since converting to meat (and eggs) this craving has gone! I’m here writing this at 10am and I’ve just realised I haven’t put the coffee machine on! Unbelievable!

  4. Hi Mikhaila, is the reason there are no fruits on the allowed food list because you got reactions from all of them? is there another reason why no fruit allowed? Thanks and Best Wishes!

  5. Hello, I have self diagnosed Hidradenitis suppurativa.. I also have had Alopecia since I was 3.. I think theyre some how linked. I’m going to try and look into this more.. thanks for sharing and being vulnerable.

  6. Hey, I just watched your video with Joe Rogan on youtube.

    I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis when I was 11, I’m now 18. MTX and Enbrel were my wonder drugs, however after years of injections every week, I couldn’t cope. The physical and emotional pain of injections was just too much. I’ve been on Prednisone for 8 years, as well as Naprosyn. I’ve tried so many other drugs, I can’t even list them, all to no avail.

    To keep a really long story short, I have chronic migraines, chronic fatigue, suspected Gastroparesis, and iron deficiency anemia as well as the Arthritis. I am currently being tested for POTS, Lupus, Hypermobility and many other conditions that might explain my huge list of symptoms that have been unmasked since stopping my wonder drugs. My Rheumy told me my pain was just chronic nerve pain, however after a recent bone scan that my Immunologist ordered, I lit up like a Christmas tree. It actually is active Arthritis.

    My father has been on the diet tangent for years. I grew up an extremely fussy eater. However when I was 15, I took matters into my own hand and ate healthy. I did see an improvement at that time, however that is also when I started taking Enbrel so it’s hard to tell.

    Right now, I have so many gut issues, itching skin, heart rate issues, migraines, fatigue, muscle issues, I can barely function most days. These symptoms were never here until I stopped the mtx and Enbrel. I’ve been looking at different diets however it can be dangerous for me due to my iron deficiency anemia. When I saw your video, I thought, that solves my anemia problem!

    I love your blog and your story, best wishes.

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