Not too long ago, sticking to a "healthy" diet and lifestyle was simple. It meant following the golden rule: "Everything in moderation." Meaning, make sure to get a balance of veggies, carbohydrates, and meat. Ok thanks, mom.
Today, what would seem like a relatively straightforward question is actually one of the most contentious subjects of our time.
Regardless of whether you're in the low-carb/high-fat "Keto" camp, or the veggie-based "Paleo" camp, one fact that cannot be argued: Diet profoundly impacts one's physical and mental health.
And since each individual is unique in their lifestyle, overall health, and medical history, there just can't possibly be one miracle cure-all diet for everyone! So, can everyone please stop arguing now?
Diet as treatment
That said, some individuals suffering from persistent health issues have turned to strictly controlling their diet as a way to manage and ultimately treat the crippling symptoms that come along with chronic illness.
Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of the famous and controversial psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, and pioneer of the all-meat diet, is one of the best examples at the moment.
I first heard about her fascinating story and unique diet from a podcast The Joe Rogan Experience; one of the most downloaded iTunes podcasts. As the host of the show - Joe Rogan - recently interviewed Mikhaila's father and they discussed their journey towards the all-beef diet; her father is an advocate as well. You can listen to that episode here.
Mikhaila lives in Toronto, and she has gained popularity and online presence with the help of her father, of course, but also for championing a strict all-beef diet.
I'm not talking carnivore diet, this is a 100% beef diet. No poultry, fish, pork, game meat - Just beef. Not even greens.
Mikhaila didn't turn to this diet because she's a crazy meat-lover; it was out of necessity and urgency to self-treat an ongoing struggle with chronic health issues.
How it started
Her struggle started at a very young age; beginning with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was only a young teen requiring her to have serious surgery and multiple joints replaced. She also suffered chronically from paralyzing joint pain, fatigue, sleep issues, depression, and anxiety.
According to a recent report by The Atlantic, treating her chronic pain and illness took a turn for the better in 2015. This was when Mikhaila turned to diet as a means to treat her symptoms, she began to slowly eliminate specific items from her diet to test which ones would trigger a flare-up of her symptoms and which would not.
She started with Gluten, naturally, then continued to eliminate. The more she eliminated, the better she felt until all she was left with was beef, salt, and water. Oh, and she does enjoy a glass of bourbon every once-and-a-while.
In fact, the all-beef diet worked so well, she was able to slowly stop using all the doctor prescribed medication she had been taking for years.
A cure for all?
Adopting an extreme and strict diet takes a toll, psychologically and socially. You pretty much can never eat at a dinner party ever again. I guess your host might let you bring your own steak, maybe?
Despite the social struggle, the physical relief from symptoms well outweighs the social and psychological cost.
Following the success of a restricted diet, Mikhaila is building a strong following on her Instagram. However, she's not doing any sponsored posts. Instead, she is using her experience and knowledge to sell one-on-one counseling for people who are looking to eliminate and restrict their diet to only a few food items.
She also writes a blog called "Don't Eat That" where she chronicles her story battling various stubborn afflictions and offers advice and guidance to those who are interested in this type of highly controlled regimen.
There are, of course, tons of skeptics out there. It's important to keep in mind that Mikhaila resorted to this seemingly extreme diet because her health issues on their own are serious. In other words, an all-beef regimen is not necessarily good for everyone. Chronic physical suffering is not a walk in the park, and people often explore alternative options outside traditional medicine to manage their condition, in the hopes of one day leading a pain-free and "normal" life.