By Marika Sboros
Canadian Mikhaila Peterson (26) has become the global poster girl for a carnivorous lifestyle.
Mikhaila now eats meat and salt only and drinks lots of sparkling water. She is all the best advertisement for what she preaches about the benefits. Her skin glows with health and vitality and she has overcome a daunting list of serious auto-immune illnesses that plagued her since childhood.
Following in her footsteps is her famous father, Dr Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and University of Toronto psychology professor. His diet is not as restrictive and he eats meat and greens only and olive oil. (Editor’s note: Dr Peterson recently ditched the greens to follow his daughter on the meat-only path.)
Both father and daughter say that they have reversed all symptoms of their previous severe illnesses. Both also no longer take a long list of prescribed drugs.
Peterson tells his health story on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. (It’s long so fast forward to the end of the first six minutes.)
Medical horror story
Mikhaila has documented her story on the Don’t Eat That blog. It’s a fascinating read – much like a medical horror story.
Ultimately, Mikhaila says that she changed her health – and her life – simply by ignoring conventional medical and dietary “wisdom”.
Her story begins with being “a really sick person” from toddlerhood. Arthritis was just one of the many serious ailments that showed up in early childhood. She has a genetic predisposition. Her mother, Tammy, reversed her own arthritis symptoms after changing to an LCHF diet.
From age two, Mikhaila was prone to bacterial infections – strep throat, colds, flu, respiratory problem, yeast infections. You name it, she suffered from it. When she was seven, doctors diagnosed severe rheumatoid arthritis. That came almost as a relief. Her parents had thought she was just spirited, demanding, attention-seeking.
And over the years, her moods began to swing wildly.
In Grade 5, doctors diagnosed severe depression, anxiety and occasional hypomania, marked by elation and hyperactivity. Thus, they started prescribed drugs, lots of them.
“Antidepressants were honestly a godsend,” Mikhaila says.
Doctors also diagnosed “idiopathic hypersomnia”, a condition similar to narcolepsy. In other words, Mikhaila battled to stay awake. She often slept 17 hours a day. The rest of the time she existed in a “half daze”.
As a young child, Mikhaila had dreamed of becoming a surgeon. That dream disintegrated once she realised it wasn’t a good choice for someone with arthritic hands. By the time she was 17, 38 of her joints were arthritic and she had multiple joint replacements. She also suffered eczema, rashes over her entire body, never-ending itchiness, severe acne on her face, cystic acne on her buttocks, vaginal area, and armpits.
The health problems negatively affected her academic performance. As a result, Mikhaila had to repeat a year of high school. Aged 19, she went to university to study psychology. Her grades were good but she “couldn’t stay awake.”
After her mental health worsened, she dropped out of university. On her own, she took high-school maths and sciences that she had missed. She wanted to study medical science at university ” to figure out what the hell was wrong with me”.
At the time, Mikhaila was on a cocktail of powerful drugs daily: antidepressants, immune suppressants, opioid-derived painkillers and, amphetamines. She took high doses of the stimulant drug, Ritalin, to stay awake for at least some hours of the day.
Her skin started to itch. With all the other health challenges, she ignored that one. But the skin problems worsened. And at age 19 she began to have cystic acnes – blistering and painful bumps.
Vanity was the first stimulus to start experimenting with diet. “The sight of sores on my face that would not heal scared me.” In late 2014, she consulted medical doctors who either had no idea what the abuse was or said that high levels of anxiety were the cause. In other words, that her problems were psychosomatic, all in her head.
“Blame the patient, thanks,” Mikhaila says ruefully.
Thus began her chronic scepticism of the medical profession that motivated her to investigate food as medicine. Gluten became a target and she cut it from her diet in 2015. It helped to some extent and Mikhaila spent much of that year learning. Increasing severe food intolerances made her feel miserable most of the time.
Then, in the summer of 2015, a distant cousin died suddenly aged 30. The cousin also had skin problems that wouldn’t heal – an autoimmune disorder. Doctors had no idea what caused the death and it left Mikhaila terrified.
She recalls thinking: “Holy shit. I’m dying. I’m on 15 medications so I can wake up in the morning. And if I don’t figure out what the hell is wrong with me I’m going to die. too”
In September 2015, she began an elimination LCHF diet but was still sceptical about the role of diet in illness.
Mikhaila ate only chicken, beef, fish, rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and salad greens. She used coconut, olive oil and apple cider vinegar and most spices. Within a month, her health had improved significantly. Her skin healed and arthritis vanished. The fatigue and depression, however, continued .
Some foods still irritated her but she found that she had removed most of the worst offenders. Mikhaila tried to reintroduce cheese – she was always a huge fan. That led to a lactose intolerance response. She tried reintroducing almond butter but the itch and arthritis returned. So she ditched it .
Mikhaila also tried reintroducing Sour Patch Kids candy. The producers call it a “fun, soft, and chewy candy for children and adults”. As it contains no soy, dairy or gluten, Mikhaila thought it was unlikely to do any harm. Her skin, however, told “a different story”. The candy was off the list.
Much of what she had read about diet and health was based on the premise that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you exercise. “That is a dangerous lie,” Mikhaila says. “What you put into your body is as important as what medications you’re taking. Changing the way you eat can change your life.”
And when she became pregnant her daughter, Elizabeth Scarlett, Mikhaila found it easy to resist conventional dietary advice. She ate LCHF foods throughout her pregnancy. “No cheating, ever.”
After Scarlett’s birth in August 2017, Mikhaila began researching the benefits of ketogenic diets. She decided to try a “zero-carb”, all-meat diet. She follows it to this day and now eats mostly ribeye steak, 2-3 pounds of meat a day and drinks lots of aforementioned sparkling water.
Results, she says, have been nothing short of “amazing”.
Mikhaila describes the effects of diet as “like waking up”. But it also disturbed her to realise that she might have been able to prevent all her illnesses and hip and ankle replacements simple with diet.
Her menu can sound spartan, dangerous – or perfectly natural, depending on your inclination. Mikhaila calls it “simple, easy and tasty”. The carnivorous diet also helped her lose pregnancy weight in an enviably short time.
She no longer takes vitamin and mineral supplementation. “It did nothing to improve my symptoms,” she says. She receives emailed suggestions daily from people offering advice. “Honestly, I’ve tried everything. What works best for me is a carnivorous diet.”
Mikhaila isn’t saying that a carnivorous diet will work for everyone. But for anyone with serious health problems, she says that it makes sense to try radical dietary change before pharmaceutical drugs.
Does she ever “cheat” and what’s the most unhealthy thing she does – if anything?
Well, she enjoys a little alcohol. However, once she changed to LCHF, she realised that alcohol affected her mood. “I seem to tolerate it better on the zero-carb diet,” she says. “So I will drink bourbon or vodka but rarely.”
She won’t raise Scarlett on a carnivorous diet but she says that her daughter is “already a fan of steak”. She won’t feed Scarlett dairy, gluten, or sugar and she’ll keep fruits “for treats”.
Click here to read: Carnivore Queen: Amber O’Hearn on magic of meat
Pet peeves and paradise
If she could edit her life, Mikhaila would change one thing. She would have started an all-meat diet earlier. Or at least she would have figured it out before needing surgery.
She has a few pet peeves. One is people ” who speak as if they know what they’re talking about when they don’t. They just spread misinformation.
As for her hopes and dreams, Mikhaila hopes that her extended family will figure their diets out. And that doctors will use diet as first-line treatment for chronic, nutrition-related disease.
“I hope all the unhappy, overweight, sick people find out that it’s food causing their problems. And that it’s not their fault and they can get better.
That leads to her idea of paradise. “A place where gluten is illegal, misinformation about diet doesn’t exist and people don’t think vegetarianism is the healthiest diet,” she says.
“Food almost ruined my life, my dad’s life, my husband’s life. This won’t continue through my line.”
Despite her health challenges or perhaps because of them, Mikhaila is remarkably resilient. She credits her parents with raising her that way.
“My father always told me to never use illness as an excuse. It’s an important lesson. What are the options? When life throws you curveballs you can give up and die or deal with it. I didn’t want to give up and die.”