Today on the podcast, Tahnee is joined by nutritionist and award-winning author of The Healthy Skin Diet, Karen Fischer, for a very real breakdown of why so many people suffer from skin conditions and how healing from within is always possible. Working as a nutritionist specializing in eczema and skin health for the past 20 years, Karen has just about seen it all when it comes to skin inflammation issues (acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis) and the lineup of factors that cause them. The author of seven health books, including best-sellers The Eczema Diet, The Eczema Detox, and The Healthy Skin Kitchen, Karen's approach to healing the skin is utterly holistic; She addresses lifestyle, environment, emotional wellbeing, and diet. Whether you're a mother of a baby with eczema, someone who suffers from acne or allergies, has an autoimmune condition, or wants to have clear, healthy skin; This episode is brimming with something for everyone. Karen discusses the increasing prevalence of salicylate sensitivity, autoimmune conditions, food elimination diets, nourishing the liver for healthier skin, calming the nervous system, Inflammatory load, protocols for skin conditions, and provides practical lifestyle, diet-related skin advice.
"In traditional diets, when you eat seasonally, your diets change with the season, and that's how you would notice the food you're reacting to. But in western society today, we have the same foods available every day. and that's a problem with diagnosing food intolerances".
- Karen Fischer
Tahnee and Karen discuss:
Who is Karen Fischer?
Karen Fischer is an award-winning nutritionist who has written seven health books including, bestsellers; The Eczema Diet, The Eczema Detox, and The Healthy Skin Kitchen. Over the past 20 years, Karen has helped thousands of people with skin inflammation including, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis, and acne.
Karen runs a skincare and supplement company called Skin Friend and The Healthy Skin Kitchen Membership; An online support network for people with skin inflammation.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Hi everybody. And welcome to the SuperFeast podcast. Today, I'm joined by Karen Fischer, which makes me very happy, because I've known Karen for a very long time and she is an incredible author and creator of beautiful skin supplements and many websites, we were talking about before we jumped on, and her work has been for me, it was really profound to get to work with her in my early twenties. And I've seen just so many positive reviews and feedback from her work, especially around things like eczema and acne and rosacea. So I'm really stoked to have you here today, Karen, thanks for joining us.
Karen Fischer: (00:37)
Oh, thanks Tahnee. Thanks for having me.
Yeah, it's been such a long time, but so nice to see your face again.
Karen Fischer: (00:46)
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:00:47]-
Yeah. And so I was hoping we could start off with your journey because so just for some context, for those of you listening, Karen and I worked together on her first book, the Healthy Skin Diet, which was probably in the late 2000s, 2008 maybe.
Karen Fischer: (01:03)
Yeah, it was published in 2008.
Okay, great. My memory's still working. And so I remember reading your story in that book and it's just such a beautiful story because you had such a personal relationship with the work that you do and you went on and educated yourself and healed yourself and your daughter. And so if you could share that story with us, I'd love for you to start off there.
Karen Fischer: (01:27)
Yeah, absolutely. Look, I became a qualified nutritionist probably about the age of 25 and shortly after I had a baby girl, Ava, and she two weeks after she was born developed really severe eczema all over her body. And it's funny, I only have like one photo of her with the eczema everywhere, as I just didn't take a lot of photos and just used the general topical treatments for her.
Karen Fischer: (01:54)
And it wasn't until a nurse from the early childhood centre, she saw Ava when she was about 10 months old after seeing her earlier, and she's like, "Has your daughter still got eczema?" I was like, "What? Eczema is a genetic condition. What can I do about it?" And she knew I was a nutritionist and she's like, "Oh look." She mentioned salicylates and don't use baby teething gel because it's salicylate. Medication and salicylates are related to eczema. And I was like, it was a light bulb moment for me. I was like, "Oh wow. I know how to get rid of salicylate sensitivity because I had it when I was younger and I studied nutritional biochemistry and I worked out how to fix it from my uni studies." And I was like, so it just changed my life and started me on a journey.
Karen Fischer: (02:42)
And by the time my daughter was two, I developed the eczema diet and a supplement routine for her and it cleared up her skin and I kind of, "Oh yeah, that's great." And I forgot about it. But then as a nutritionist, word got out that I treated eczema and I kept on having all these eczema patients come and see me and it grew from there. And I thought, "I don't want to specialise in eczema. I just want to specialise in skin health and beauty." But I was like, "Oh, but these people are suffering." And I was like, "No, I actually really should focus on it." So I wrote the Healthy Skin Diet first and I'm like, "I know I should be writing an eczema book, but I want to help everyone."
Karen Fischer: (03:21)
I know there's acne information, acne's a very important thing to treat as well. In my first book I wanted to help everyone and then I went back to, "Okay, let's publish the eczema diet because this is what I did with my daughter." The diet for someone with eczema is totally different to a diet for somebody with acne. Acne's oily skin, eczema is very dry skin. So any dry skin condition, you are going to need a vastly different diet to someone with oily skin.
Karen Fischer: (03:53)
So that was the start of my journey. And well, actually before that, I grew up with skin problems as well. I was the kind of kid that looked like I was sick all the time. And I used to joke, "I grew up on aspirin." So no one really knew [crosstalk 00:04:11] salicylate sensitivity because I had headaches every week. I was popping aspirins as a kid. So I did end up with salicylate sensitivity and that's why look, no one really talks about salicylate sensitivity, but it's the most widely researched chemical in the world because of all the problems that people had with asthma, aspirin and getting asthma attacks and being seriously ill from aspirin. So yeah, so it's a massively researched area. So when I was treating eczema, I was like, "Oh." Or there's so much scientific research on salicylates, it actually made it easier for me to design my diets.
Yeah. And I mean, I remember the first time I heard about salicylates was probably from your book and then speaking to, I think it was our accountant whose son had really bad eczema and they drew it down to salicylate sensitivity being the cause. And what shocked me, I think about when I learned about them is they're in so many foods and actually a lot of foods we would consider like healthy and maybe even like the foundation of our diet for, especially if we're trying to feed our kids lots of vegetables and fruits and whole foods and that kind of stuff. Could you speak a bit to that?
Karen Fischer: (05:23)
Yeah. So it looks like salicylate foods aren't unhealthy. They are definitely in healthy foods and my goal has always been to get people not being sensitive to salicylates so they have a varied diet. So yeah, I know we tend to demonise things like gluten and histamines in foods and amines in foods and salicylates in foods. And I probably did that in the early days as well going, "This is bad for eczema." But while really it's our immune systems are overreacting to a harmless substance. So that's the bottom line with any sort of food intolerance. Look, food allergies might be a little different, but with any food intolerance, such as salicylate sensitivity, histamine intolerance, even gluten intolerance in the milder sense and other food chemicals, there's glutamate such as MSG. Those are intolerances based on our immune system overreacting to stuff.
Karen Fischer: (06:24)
So while with my dietary stuff, it's really important to reduce those things in the diet, to calm down your skin and get you feeling normal again, and that calms down the immune. And then you can start reintroducing those salicylate foods again, even reintroducing little bits of gluten. And it does depend on the dosage to start off with. So it's calming down the immune system by giving it a little break, a three month break from those high chemicals is often enough for people to be able to consume them again. Some people, it does take longer. Some people it takes a year or two.
And I guess I'm thinking about that naturopathic concept where there's like that bucket of tolerance, I suppose, or chemical inputs into the system and the body gets to a point where it really just can't handle what's coming in anymore. And so I think what you are talking to there is that if we reduce the load on the body, it gives the body a chance to heal and repair and then it doesn't have to necessarily be a lifetime of avoiding... Because they're in mangoes and things, right? Like yummy foods.
Karen Fischer: (07:34)
Yeah. So the bucket being full, that's a really good analogy because what happens is, yes, so the bucket does get full. And how that occurs is your liver is designed to deactivate salicylates and eliminate them from the body but your liver needs nutrients to do that. So your liver needs a range of B vitamins and zinc and minerals and glycine and a bunch of other proteins in order to deactivate salicylates and other chemicals and drugs such as paracetamol and so forth. The liver does all of that, but when your liver runs out of nutrients, the bucket fills up really quickly. So a nutritional approach is also really important and also calming down the nervous system is really important as well and stress, so that all helps to empty that bucket. So yeah, it's an important thing.
Karen Fischer: (08:29)
Because they're our fun foods, salicylate foods, almonds, which are [crosstalk 00:08:35] as well, which can damage the gut lining. There's so many good and bad things to any health food. It's funny because people just say, "Oh avocado, coconut, almonds, the best thing for your skin." I was like, "Well, yeah, if you process them properly. Absolutely." Yeah. If your bucket's full, avocado could give someone the worst itchy night of their life and they'll be crying all night because they can't sleep and they're itching like crazy. I've had head to toe eczema myself, and I've had nights like that even while avoiding all the foods when I had an autoimmune condition for a while that made everything go crazy. I'm better now. So those things are absolutely reversible.
Karen Fischer: (09:25)
And I'm really excited about that, but I know how itchy and uncomfortable it can be and I've of people email my team and just say, "Oh, I found you because I searched eczema and avocado because I've been eating a lot of avocados and I can't sleep because I'm itchy all the time." And they said, "Your website came up, your itchy dozen worst foods for eczema came up because... And I was like, oh, I've always been told to eat lots of avocado. So I was eating more and more and more and getting more [crosstalk 00:09:58]." I say one person's superfood is another person's sleepless night itching.
Like a kryptonite.
Karen Fischer: (10:08)
Exactly. Yeah. My daughter and I, we can eat avocado and things like that again. My daughter's a funny one. She can eat everything again, but if she has avocado every day for a week, she'll start to get itchy. So it's like having it two days a week and you're totally fine with it, but it's I just say it's not an everyday food.
And in terms of that, like I mean, I guess thinking about kids coming in with eczema as tiny babies. Are you looking at the toxic load to use that sort of phrasing on their bodies? Because my understanding is their little livers don't function quite as efficiently as ours anyway. So that's-
Karen Fischer: (10:51)
That's right. That's in my books, yeah.
Yeah. Maybe I learned that from you, but yeah the factoring is this like, "Yes, their bodies don't process that." So is it something that if your baby's got eczema, are you looking at your diet as well? Or is it overall supplementing them to help assist their liver function? Or what are you looking at when you're dealing with babies?
Karen Fischer: (11:13)
Yes. Babies are complicated.
Karen Fischer: (11:16)
There's not a lot you can do, but definitely, I mean, the first thing is look at what is going on in the home. From anything like stress within the family, babies pick up on that, if the place is dusty or carpets. So we look at the external stuff first for babies. The fabrics, if they're got a hundred percent cotton fabrics on their body, in their bedding, that's great. What you're washing their clothes with, is it a sensitive skin washing powder? So we tick all those boxes first and then we go to making sure you're not using teething gel because use the frozen kind of chew rings instead of the salicylate teething gel, because that can seriously cause eczema to bleed and some of my patients have gone, "Yeah, no. Yeah. When I gave my child teething gel, their skin started bleeding." And so it's not great for babies with eczema.
Karen Fischer: (12:23)
So once we've ticked all those boxes, then we go to what the mother's eating in the diet. I don't like to tell breastfeeding mothers to take a whole bunch of things out of their diet. Just say, "Look, just avoid the itchy dozen. And once your baby's the age of one, then we can deal with things a little bit differently." But I think it's more important that because when you're breastfeeding, you're just like [crosstalk 00:12:46]-
Eat whatever you need.
Karen Fischer: (12:49)
[crosstalk 00:12:49]. Your baby is second priority to you, having good nutrition and getting good sleep and not having to fuss with a major diet while you are going through these big life changes with a new baby. So the eczema comes second in those cases. And look, just doing those changes is enough to reduce symptoms in a lot of cases. And having just a good skin cream as well, that's really hydrating. We've got one on my website, but just anything that's going to just lock in moisture and not make them more itchy. That's a really wonderful approach for a young baby, making sure the ingredients are okay for babies.
Karen Fischer: (13:39)
A great time is when you're starting to introduce new foods for a baby. So your first foods so we have a list of babies' first foods that are lower in salicylates and lower in those natural chemicals because there is research showing that babies' livers are naturally under functioning and they don't process salicylates very well and that's aspirin research. So it's really well researched. So it's not just saying, "Oh this could be it." It's like going, "Okay, this is scientific research." So any salicylate food so don't give babies avocado first, maybe give them things like white potato is a low salicylate-
Mushy pears that kind of thing.
Karen Fischer: (14:25)
Yeah mushy pears. Yeah. Mushy peeled pears that's low salicylate. So just starting with the easy to digest foods for a baby, just does wonders with starting them off on the right track. And a paediatrician, not a doctor, but a paediatrician can also prescribe a really special formula if the baby's formula fed. So it might be Neocate or something, but it's something that a regular doctor can't prescribe for a baby with eczema. But yeah, that's a really great approach if someone was using formula as well.
Yeah. So just back on that diet thing is an interesting thing that I came across much later after working with you when I was studying Chinese medicine and dietary therapy. So they actually recommend for babies, a clear bland diet with a lot of white foods, which is really interesting because if you look at what eczema diets typically are, and again, from having read a couple of your books, they are usually pretty bland and pretty white.
Karen Fischer: (15:33)
[crosstalk 00:15:33] with white cabbage. You can have red cabbage as well [crosstalk 00:15:36].
Yeah. Like the peeled potato, it's a lot of these really, like I imagine things like congee and stuff would be quite good. Things that are quite simple to digest. And we certainly didn't have that approach with my daughter. We were a bit more in that whole baby-led weaning world, but it's interesting. I think being pregnant again, I'm like, I might be a little bit more gentle this time and not be she was eating avocado and green smoothies and all sorts of crazy-
Karen Fischer: (16:05)
But if she doesn't have eczema, then you don't need to worry about it. If there's no problem, you don't need to fix anything. You can be intuitive like that. An eczema baby, there is a genetic component to having eczema in the family. I don't suggest everyone has to necessarily follow that. So if the child had eczema or asthma or any signs of inflammation, then this is the approach for that type of child.
Well, I remember, and this is interesting because that stuff supports lung function in Chinese medicine and spleen function, which are those two really weak organ systems in a baby according to their sort of philosophy, and I know you've spoken, I think it was in the Healthy Skin Diet, you spoke about lung function being really important to healthy skin function. So there's this interesting correlation I think, between supporting those organ systems and having minimising things like asthma and eczema and any skin dysfunction. So is that something you've seen in practise showing up?
Karen Fischer: (17:08)
Yeah, absolutely. And I feel the body supports each other as a whole. I know there's a lot of diets that just focus on liver health or they just focus on gut health. And I was like, "Oh that's nice, but that's, what sometimes..." Or heart health, it's like, "Your red wine for heart health." I'm like, "Yeah, but it's not great for your liver health." Let's not forget it's a body as a whole. So absolutely, I think all those systems we can learn, take the best of all the information that helps a certain system in the body and put it together in a holistic way. It's not all about gut health, it's not all about liver health, it's like the body as a whole.
Karen Fischer: (17:54)
And I think the mind is one of the biggest predictors of our health as well. What we tell ourselves every day is one of the most important things for our mental health and wellbeing. Because if we are telling ourselves, "Oh I look fat or I look this." That's an instruction, that's setting your GPS to make food decisions that will keep you that way. So we've really got to be really careful and kind with ourselves. And those thoughts will naturally pop up and you can just say, "You know what, that's not true. I'm not going to focus on that. I'm going to focus on having great health. I'm going to focus on eating for healthy skin. I'm going to focus on creating my best life." You've got to shut down the negative thinking because it's going to happen naturally, but you can't buy into it. So it's like, "Oh yeah. That's not true." You're just going to remind yourself-
Not helpful, thank you. Moving right along.
Karen Fischer: (18:59)
No, it's so true. Yeah. And I mean, I had an eating disorder as a young person and it's really interesting how sitting where I am now, I can't even relate to that thinking process, but I remember that loop and I remember being like... I almost remember the day it snapped as well. And through a lot of work, it wasn't just magical, but I think it's like a spiral that you can really easily get sucked into. And I remember you addressed it in the Healthy Skin Diet. And I remember thinking, that was for me one of, [inaudible 00:19:34] you had the breathing and the mind aspect in there, which I think was really new at the time. Because a lot of people weren't talking about those factors in terms of skin health and just general wellbeing. It was the 2000s, I guess, were the start of that movement toward us really understanding that mind-body connection more collectively and I think that was really special. So thank you for bringing that into everybody's consciousness before it was a thing.
Karen Fischer: (20:03)
Yeah. You remind me because that books from so long ago, but I remember people saying, "Oh, I've never thought like that." Because there's a walking meditation where you think a nice thought about a person who's walking past. You pick a good point about them whether it's something about the way they look or they look confident, they look like a nice person. Because I used to do that and I'd go, these people would smile at me, I'm going, "Oh, can they read my mind?" I got lots of comments. So I've had readers saying, "Oh, I never thought to do that, but it actually made me feel really good and really connected to people."
Karen Fischer: (20:40)
And I just really wanted people to know it's just not all about food and weight and weighing yourself or denying yourself stuff. It's about eating foods that aren't harming you, whether that's for if you have a salicylate sensitivity or a gluten sensitivity or whatever, and also bringing the mind aspect into it and just that kind of self-love, it just is growing the good in you and it retrains your brain to avoiding eating disorders and avoid harming ourselves, which we do by accident. We don't mean to, but we train our brains to get into this loop of choices, which we aren't good for us.
Yeah. And I think that negative or, I mean, it's easy to look for fault and negativity and what's wrong I think. And there's all the evolutionary research around why we do that and obviously our family upbringings and stuff too. I learned from a Daoist teacher, a practise called inner smile where you purposely, and at the beginning you feel like a real idiot, but you like, "Smile at my body." And over time it becomes quite, you condition yourself to look for that joy and happiness and pleasure in experiencing your body. And I think those kinds of practises are really helpful. I think if you are listening to this and that's something you're interested in, Karen's first book, which we'll link to, talks to that.
You also speak to, from memory, acne and rosacea and psoriasis and ageing and all sorts of stuff in that book. So that was definitely a more general piece of work. And I remember it has all the programmes and protocols and I mean, I've looked at it when I had my daughter. She didn't, she actually, so we didn't have eczema early. She didn't have anything until she started probably when she was two, she first got eczema and it was because I was giving her heaps of coconut milk, almond milk and avocado. And I was sort of like, "What the hell was going on?" Because she'd had perfect skin before that. And I'd had sensitivity to preservatives as a kid, like fruit juices and stuff. So I knew that there was something in our family that was a bit like that. And we just took that out for a few months and she was fine after, now she can have all those things like you say, we don't overdo it.
It was really interesting to me picking that book up again and it was really helpful to have a look at even that small programme on eczema you have there, but you've gone on to write the complete eczema diet and you've got your new book as well, Healthy Skin Kitchen. Is The Healthy Skin Kitchen again, aimed at a more general kind of audience or is it still specifically for-
Karen Fischer: (23:37)
Yeah. Okay. Can you tell us a bit about that then?
Karen Fischer: (23:38)
Yeah. So that's really the accumulation of 20 years working as a nutritionist, specialising on skin health and eczema, because there was just so much new information. So I've covered vagus nerve wellness and some really great research on that and your microbiome and all the research that's on that. Because it's just the research side's really fascinating. So with The Healthy Skin Kitchen so I do mention the different diets for things like acne. So you can look up your skin disorder and you can see what supplements you need. For example, with acne things like flaxseed oil and chia seeds and things like that, wonderful, everyone writes about how they're great for skin, but for some with acne, who's already got oily skin that is going to make you break out like you're a teenager again. So it's little things like that.
Karen Fischer: (24:36)
With acne, the only oil you should ever use really is the olive oil or extra virgin olive oil because it's not going to change your skin oiliness. So researchers who have done flax seed oil research shows how after using it for six to 12 weeks, it's increased your skin hydration and the oil content in your skin and their placebo they use is olive oil because it doesn't change your skin oiliness. That's kind of a scientific factor. If you've got oily these skin, it's just the olive oil or extra virgin olive oil.
Karen Fischer: (25:06)
For someone say that has psoriasis, their diet is probably closer to the eczema diet. But one big thing with psoriasis is calcium deficiency because calcium is needed for your skin cells to differentiate so for your skin cells to exfoliate and shed in a normal way. So with psoriasis, your skin cells are turning over crazy amounts and you're getting really flaky, but with all my psoriasis patients and I've had it as well, you need calcium and magnesium in equal amounts. We've got a product specifically for that. Because too much calcium without magnesium's not good for you. You really need equal amounts of magnesium when you're doing a supplement form. And that will just really quickly decrease the psoriasis and make the skin cells not turn over as quickly, just to turn over at a normal rate. So it's just little things like that in The Healthy Skin Kitchen, just to help break it down very specific for specific skin disorders and the prescriptions that I've prescribed over the last 20 years, just so people aren't doing just a blanket, healthy skin programme that's designed for everyone because really different people-
You've got to drill down really on what you need, yeah.
Karen Fischer: (26:27)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
And I mean, if there's, because I know with psoriasis and probably a lot of these things and you mentioned the immune system at the start, that autoimmune factor, it was one of the things that my husband and I first talked about when we met. He said to me like, "You've got to understand, of course autoimmune is serious, but there has to be ways to sort of start to work with it and heal it because why would your body want to attack itself?" And I'd been to doctors and naturopaths that had just kept me on protocols and routines forever, but never really... I wasn't necessarily getting anywhere. I was just staying in this homeostasis place. And that for me was a really big mindset shift, which also then led to me exploring things like medicinal mushrooms and things which changed, I think, how my immune system functions, because I can tolerate things I could never tolerate before. I wonder what your experience with that is and how that relates to skin, because I mean it's something that I hear all the time in our business, people coming to us with autoimmune.
Karen Fischer: (27:29)
Yeah. And it's such an important topic to talk about because having an autoimmune condition is just awful. It really changes the way that you interact with society. I know when I had it, so I had mast cell activation syndrome so I became allergic to cold weather. So I'm on the Gold Coast and when the Gold Coast got cold, I was covered head to toe in eczema and I'd get hives if I had a [crosstalk 00:27:57]. I tried the Wim Hof Method and I'm like-
Don't do that.
Karen Fischer: (28:00)
[crosstalk 00:28:00] all over my body. So with me, my autoimmune condition, it was just, and I actually I'm saying that I really don't talk about it anymore. Because just talking about it can make my skin itch. So a big thing with autoimmune is not to make it who you are, not to talk, talk about it yet when you need to, but try not to all the time or make it an excuse for not being able to do things, even if-
Yeah, that identifying with it sort of-
Karen Fischer: (28:32)
Yeah. I couldn't eat out with my friends, but in the end I'll just say, "Oh, I'm just busy or I can't." Rather than going, "Oh I can't eat." And now I can, I can go out with my friends and I order whatever I want and that's great. But so with autoimmune, the biggest thing I found was reducing stress or changing the way you process stress. So that's the a lot of calming activities, a lot of self-love because yeah, I always look at what's the body trying to tell you. If the immune system's attacking you or you're attacking yourself, like an auto way, how am I attacking myself? How am I attacking others? Am I being self critical? Am I being critical of others?
Karen Fischer: (29:20)
I think it's changing, with the brain you're training, it's changing pathways of the past. It's the way of accepting people, accepting myself. So a lot, lot, lot of self-love, breathing techniques is important. Meditation is important. I know you guys do all of that. Someone with an autoimmune condition it's really about going within and finding what works for you. I'm actually developing a programme on how I reverse my autoimmune condition, which I'll bring it out next year. So I've got The Healthy Skin Kitchen membership and at the moment, so that's the membership that helps people to follow my diet programmes, the food intolerance diagnosis programme from the Eczema Detox so that's going to be in there. We teach people how to diagnose their food intolerances and then how to expand their diet.
Karen Fischer: (30:19)
But then I've got another programme which helped me to reverse my autoimmune condition. So about calming down the nervous system and the steps and brain retraining and the steps on how to do that. Because I tried brain retraining and it didn't quite work for me so I had to flip it and do the opposite of it using partly what I learned from brain retraining. But I had to change it to suit my autoimmune condition. And I just want to share that with everyone. So I will bring that out in mid 2022, it's going to take me quite a while to do all the videos and stuff. But yeah, so autoimmune very much self-love and getting back to nature. I grow fruit trees and veggie patch, I've got 20 fruit trees in my backyard, my soil [crosstalk 00:31:09]. I'm very much in the dirt trying to get my sand to be real dirt.
Coastal problems. Yeah.
Karen Fischer: (31:18)
First world problems.
They're good problems to have.
Karen Fischer: (31:25)
Yeah. Autoimmune, yeah. And it's also important for people with autoimmune to just listen to themselves and go within, because everyone's slightly different. We have our different triggers and our different reasons for having it as well.
Yeah. I really relate to that piece on attacking yourself and that shows up in your thought processes and how you... And it for me, it was around there was the eating disorder that was sort of an extreme expression of it, but the autoimmune was almost like my secret continuation of that same process if you know what I mean? And so it took a little while to really understand that. And yeah, for me, things like Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra and meditation and the Daoist practises and stuff I learned, they all contributed to healing. But yeah, it does, I mean, I would say it took 10 years for me to really be okay and probably still have to manage things.
Karen Fischer: (32:26)
Karen Fischer: (32:28)
We're told it's a life sentence kind of thing. We're not told, "Hey, you can reverse that." I think us talking about it today, going to people, "Hey, you can reverse that." I think that's an important conversation to have. Because I went out to dinner with a couple of friends the other night and one she's just recovered from this terrible arthritis that was all over her body and she's only in her forties and another one she's just got it because of the pandemic. It came on because then she was in lockdowns in Melbourne and she had terrible crippling after arthritis in her hands. And I was like, "Oh, hey, you can reverse that. It's a lot of self care and it's a lot of not being so driven and relaxing a little bit." She goes, "Oh no, I'm very driven. I'm not going to stop that." I was like, "I'm there with your, sister. I'm very driven too, but I had to put my health first."
Yeah, it's a type A kind of a thing, isn't it? And look, I think if you look at, and that was something I wanted to touch on quickly with the piece about salicylates and the liver as well, it's like you're looking at this inflammation, this inflammatory load, and if you look at what these autoimmune conditions are all the time they're associated with really high inflammation and stress on organs like the liver and dysbiosis in the gut and things. But again, from that whole systems approach, it's like you don't need to then go and attack the liver with detox chemicals or like it's really more about how do you bring everything into harmony so that the system can harmonise. And like you're saying, reducing stress, reducing the goals in one's life, they're all really important parts of it.
And I've noticed it with my daughter. I keep her home from school and you can just see when she's starting to fall onto that side of things and getting stressed and she'll... I don't know, this is something you start to see in kids and that she's been a really good mirror for me where I've been able to see her start to fall into a behavioural change or something where I go, "Okay, she's hitting stress and I'm actually reflecting. I'm really busy. I'm stressed. We all need to take it down a notch today." And if you can get onto it early, it really helps I think and so that stuff-
Karen Fischer: (34:35)
Yeah. That's great. And just noticing and identifying that, that's really important in children as well, so very, very important. Because it's like modern life, we just have all these goals and are really, really driven and that can... And the funny thing is, is when I had the autoimmune condition and before it, because I think I've... I never knew that my body was so tense and then I was so, I mean maybe even anxious for it. I just thought I used to be shy as a child, but I was probably riddled with anxiety and it's only just come out in my forties, the autoimmune stuff. And once I learned to calm myself down and relax my body, I was like, "Oh wow."
Karen Fischer: (35:24)
And when I do start to feel my body getting tense again or feeling tense again, I was like, "Oh yeah, that's not normal so now I need to do something." So I always feel like I could be on the brink of tipping back, but then I notice it and I just do something to tip me back the other way. And it's so simple when you identify it, it's like people that are tired all the time and need coffee all the time. Once they detox off coffee and go back to eating well, they're like, "Oh wow. I feel amazing. I never knew I could feel this good. I just thought feeling bad was feeling normal." So it's identifying stress and seeing in our children and in ourselves when we start to tip over into that stressy kind of mode because yeah, it's not healthy for our skin, it's not healthy for [crosstalk 00:36:15]-
No. And yeah, what you're saying that course correct. One of my teachers used to teach this. I can't remember which one right now. But if the pendulum is swinging in extremes, then you're going to have extreme symptoms. But if you can get your pendulum to swing in like a smaller range, then you'll notice, "I'm getting tense or getting run down, course correct, rest." And then you can kind of start to navigate in a more graceful way, I suppose, without as many extreme symptoms and needing to have those... I used to need a week in bed to recover from my life and now it's like I have a day off with my daughter and we hang out and play in the garden. We're evolving, look at us let's go. And getting there.
I wanted to bring it back to rosacea because this is not an area I'm super familiar with. Again, I'm aware that there's a bit of a liver correlation there and I don't know what your research has brought up around the MTHFR, is that how you say it? That sort of process, but a lot of the people I've spoken to with rosacea tend to seem to have that genetic variant. I wonder if you could speak to that and rosacea in general, what you know about that.
Karen Fischer: (37:32)
Yeah, absolutely. So look with rosacea. So rosacea for anyone who doesn't know, it's kind of when your skin goes all red and you can end up with this a bulbous nose, if you have rosacea really badly for a long period of time. So you want to kind of reverse it before your nose starts to grow. So what rosacea, what your body is kind of telling you with rosacea... So blood is having trouble getting to your skin surface. So what's happening is the blood cells are opening extra wide to let the blood into the skin surface. And that's giving you this red appearance because all your blood vessels are vasodilated and staying open. If you kind of analyse that, you go, "Okay, well, how do I naturally get blood to the surface of my skin without this vasodilation needing to happen?"
Karen Fischer: (38:27)
So exercise is one massive thing for people with rosacea. I had it very mildly, many years ago. I lived a sedentary lifestyle, not much of an exercise back then and whenever I exercised it went away. So it really is a matter of how do I get really great blood circulation to my skin without... And that's, first of all, exercise. Vitamin deficiencies are important to correct as well. And so rosacea is also, so drinking alcohol is a big issue with that. So histamine, so it's a histamine response. So people with rosacea, I find if we take them off amines, sometimes they need to reduce their salicylates as well ,that gives them relief really, really quickly. And then they get their body healthier so then they don't react to those things down the tracks.
Karen Fischer: (39:22)
But getting onto it early is better before because the vasodilation changes can become permanent. So, but they don't need to be so that's really important. So the MTHFR that kind of gene variant, so look those genes can be switched on and off so that if you're really working on stress management, relaxation... And I know that some of their treatments, they use really high methylated B vitamins, which I disagree with very high of anything can have side effects and they talk about all the side effects. So I do really low doses, if you need the methylated version of B vitamins, but in super low doses. Our bodies don't need a lot to function properly, but they need everything in balanced amounts or else you'll end up deficient in something else. So too much of one B vitamin will cause a deficiency in the others.
Karen Fischer: (40:25)
Magnesium's really, really important. So if you are deficient in magnesium and taking these methylated B vitamins, you're going to react to the methylated B vitamins. So magnesium's a really, really, really important nutrient, helps us to get calcium into the correct places in our bones or else calcium just floats around in our bloodstream. It helps with our liver to deactivate chemicals. So when our body's functioning properly, when our liver and our gut's functioning properly, we don't have these gene issues. So definitely methylated B vitamins, but low doses, more magnesium, less B vitamins would be my kind of prescription for anyone with those kind of issues. Yeah, less is more.
And that epigenetic piece, I guess, is super important because that's, I think for me as well, I think I've technically been diagnosed with celiac disease, but I can tolerate gluten now. I'm going to have to be careful with dosage. I can't go and eat it for a month, every day, like it wouldn't do me any favours, but I can have it a couple of times a week without dramas. And that I believe is sort of pushing me into that space of like, "If I maintain my stress levels, if I tend to myself in other ways, then that sort of aspect of my diet needs to be less controlled." And I think that's probably that overarching theme of what we've been talking about in terms of autoimmune, in terms of all of these things, it's like, there's the environmental factor, there's the personal, and then there's the things like diet and supplements and stuff as well. It's never just one, I wish, just one piece of the puzzle. There's lots of things obviously that can be done.
And I saw your product, the Skin Friend product, there's like an AM and a PM. I did notice you had magnesium in there. Do you want to talk a little bit about what the intention with that product is? Is it mostly for eczema or is it...
Karen Fischer: (42:25)
Yeah, absolutely. So the Skin Friend AM, so that's like your morning multivitamin, because it's really important that we just aren't deficient in things so that I actually initially designed that for people with salicylate sensitivity and eczema, but then people with acne just said, "Oh, it got rid of my acne as well." The AM is a liver helper. So that's just giving your liver what it needs to deactivate chemicals. So it's like when your bucket gets full, I thought I needed to have something to, because it wasn't available for me to prescribe to my patients. So I designed this for my daughter initially and then one of my patients said, "Why don't you give me the supplement you gave to your daughter?" So that came from that. It's just the liver nutrients that helps your liver to deactivate all the chemicals. We can't avoid chemicals and pollution and pesticides or whatever. We breathe them in, we ingest them accidentally or on purpose. So it's better to focus on giving our liver whatever it needs to cope with all the chemicals, without the bucket getting full. And so-
And like is said, a lot of the, I was just going to quickly say, a lot of the chemicals are healthy chemicals. Things like salicylates and histamines and amines aren't necessarily bad for us, but if we can process or digest them. Yeah. So moving on to PM-
Karen Fischer: (43:51)
All those chemicals are in healthy foods. So yes, and the liver's job is to deactivate them. So we just want to help the liver so it's not working so hard. And now the PM, so that's got the calcium, magnesium and glycine. So a lot of [inaudible 00:44:14] people with eczema and psoriasis and skin inflammation, they're actually deficient in calcium and magnesium. But so more so calcium, they're getting it in their diet, but if they're deficient in magnesium, they're not absorbing their calcium. So everyone recommends calcium and vitamin D but it's not the whole story. So research shows that your calcium will stay floating around in your blood and not get into your bones where it's meant to be if you don't have enough magnesium. And taking calcium on its own can even be harmful because, because it needs so much magnesium to be processed properly, it will make you deficient in magnesium. So there's another 300 enzyme reactions in our body will miss out on work, it won't work properly because calcium's-
Karen Fischer: (45:07)
Dominated your, made you deficient in it. So this product's evolved over the years. So it's got equal amounts of calcium and magnesium. So it's a really safe product and it really helps with sleep. People just say, "Oh, one night have taken that and I started sleeping better." Because people with eczema, as you might know, they just get really itchy in the middle of the night. It's like, I don't know, you just wake up itchy all over. So it just helped to maybe knock those people out a little bit and it just, magnesium calms the nervous system. It's muscle relaxants. And calcium blocks the absorption of zinc. So it needed to be away from the AM ingredients as well so that's really important the way a supplement's designed to not block the absorption of other nutrients.
And glycine, can you speak about that a little bit, because I feel like you mention in The Healthy Skin Diet and probably in The Eczema Diet.
Karen Fischer: (46:18)
Yeah, absolutely. So glycine's a component of collagen in your skin. So it's a really important one. People talk about taking collagen supplements. So glycine is a component of collagen and I feel glycine works better than collagen supplements. I've taken a collagen supplement and they say, "Oh, it takes 18 months to show results." I don't know if that's true or not. I think maybe some are better than others and probably some would do better results, but glycine's a component. So I find that taking glycine separately can really help and it helps the liver deactivate chemicals as well. So that was just another way... It does need magnesium and B vitamins and your vitamin C as well. So it's not just all about glycine, but yeah, really, really helpful for people with food chemical intolerance.
And I guess I'm hearing, as a bit of a side effect, it's going to have some of those benefits of collagen that maybe people who are looking for anti-ageing and stuff are going to have some better collagen structure in the body, in the fascia and that kind of thing is that...
Karen Fischer: (47:20)
Yeah. So yeah, collagen is super important with skin elasticity as well with avoiding things like stretch marks. So yeah, so making sure you've got your collagen nutrients, that's really great. Whereas if you're taking a collagen supplement, that's naturally high in histamine, so that's not really suitable for someone say with eczema or skin inflammation.
Yeah. And that was something I thought was interesting I think in The Healthy Skin Diet, you spoke to how sometimes things like bone broths and things which everyone on the internet likes to say are amazing for skin health, but not necessarily. Could you speak a little bit about that?
Karen Fischer: (47:57)
Yeah, absolutely. And I do have a bone broth recipe in The Healthy Skin Diet and-
You do, it's a good one. I think I still make it.
Karen Fischer: (48:06)
Yes. But for someone with eczema who also has amine intolerance or someone with histamine intolerance then that's what going to make them itch like crazy. So 35% of eczema sufferers are sensitive to amines and histamines so only 35% of them can't have a bone broth. And on saying that, a homemade bone broth that's say lower in salicylates is probably a better option for them.
Yeah, because storing it actually increases, is this-
Karen Fischer: (48:33)
The leftovers? Yeah.
Karen Fischer: (48:36)
Absolutely. Yeah. So leftover meats develop amines the next day, that's why they get all yummier the next day. [crosstalk 00:48:43] and bone broths get more flavoursome the next day as well. So amines is a flavour enhancer.
Yeah. Okay. So if you're intolerant to those, then you're going to find those yummy next day foods not so good for you.
Karen Fischer: (48:58)
Yeah. And we probably should say how to find out if you're intolerant to it because so it's doing a special elimination diet. So we call it the FID programme, it's the Food Intolerance Diagnosis programme. So it's temporarily taking those foods out of your diet and we just have set recipes that make it really yummy for people. So it's not just a eating rice and bean kind of diet. It's come a long way since the 1970s, we have a trendy, fabulous recipes and smoothie bowls and whatever you see online, we have a low salicylate version of it. We've got out [inaudible 00:49:39] flat breads and just some really nice gluten-free wraps or whatever so people don't miss out on a single thing.
Yeah. Is that part of your online membership as well as the book?
Karen Fischer: (49:53)
Karen Fischer: (49:55)
Yeah. The Healthy Skin Kitchen membership. I've got the healthy skin kitchen book, which has lots of great recipes. My wonderful publisher, Exisle Publishing, I had 90 recipes and they went, "Oh, we can only fit in 50." So the other ones have gone in the online programme plus we do free recipe every week and we have a support network, a forum where you can chat with everyone else who's on the programmes and you can see all the videos explaining the programmes and how to diagnose your food intolerances. I find that diagnosing it rather than just taking everything out of your diet and not testing it, is really important to diagnose it, put everything back in and see how you react because you don't want to be avoiding something you actually don't need to avoid. And the diagnosis program's a temporary programme so you expanded diet after that.
I'm curious as to your thoughts on those IG, I'm going to probably get this wrong IG protein allergy tests. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Karen Fischer: (51:00)
Am I making sense? Yes. Because it's really interesting you say that. I did a lot of elimination diets in the early days trying to work out what was going on before I knew the gluten factor and that was useful because I sort of isolated gluten as being a problem. But then I went and saw a naturopath probably, I don't know, a year or two later and she told me I was allergic to like the whole world through one of those IG panels. And I was like, "God how am I going to function?" Because it was everything. It was eggs, I was vegetarian at the time, but it was chicken. It was heaps of different fruits. I mean, I literally remember it being broccoli. Like it was so many things and I remember thinking, "God, I'm basically going to be eating, like you're saying, rice and beans for the rest of my life."
Karen Fischer: (51:44)
But I turned out to not really be relevant to me. I've ended up being able to eat all those. I ate everything now without exception, except for McDonald's but yeah. It's like, I don't eat crap, but yeah. If I'd gone off of that, I would've lived my life rather miserably. My understanding now is that that tests where you're at, which is you're in a highly inflammatory reactive state and you're reacting to things, but it's not necessarily a end of the world life sentence that you're stuck with that.
Karen Fischer: (52:18)
Yeah, absolutely. So that type of allergy testing is probably the one that doctors don't believe in, but the one that the doctors do believe in the IgE testing, it has its limitations as well because they tested the same amount of people say with an egg allergy, they did a skin prick test and they also did a blood, another test, which was a patch test that had a immediate response and a delayed response. And they got completely different results. 60% of people react to the skin prick test and with the patch test, not a lot of people reacted, but then later like hours later, the patch test 82% of people reacted. So it's amazing. Every test kind of has different things. So 25, 20 or so percent of people who had an egg allergy wouldn't have been diagnosed if they'd just done say a skin prick test.
Karen Fischer: (53:20)
So I take any test with a grain of salt and you let your body tell you what you're reacting to. That's why I love food elimination diets. Like say, if people follow the FID programme, they take the foods out and go, "Oh wow, I don't have to take antihistamine medications anymore. I'm not itchy anymore. Oh my skin's starting to clear up." Then you know you're on the right track. But if you do the IGG test or whatever it's called and you take all those foods out of the diet and go, "Oh, I'm all better. Oh, that really worked for me. I feel different. Or hey, my symptoms are starting to reduce." Then you know you're on the right track. But if you take all the foods out of your diet and you go, "I'm no different or I'm a little worse." Then further investigation is required.
Karen Fischer: (54:08)
Because I know that people with eczema, they take dairy out of the diet, they take gluten out of the diet or take wheat out of the diet or egg and they go, "Oh yeah, that helped a tiny bit or that didn't really help much at all. Diet might not be the issue. Diet's not the issue because that didn't work for me." So it was just relying on allergy testing is not usually enough. I find that if we're eating the same foods every day, we'll never know what we're reacting to. So it's rotating your diet. For one week of totally avoid grains, full stop, next week, add them in, but don't have same grains every week, every day. Don't have the same smoothie every day. Don't have the coffee every day.
Karen Fischer: (54:52)
That's how I knew I reacted to caffeine because I would have a coffee or tea once a month and I'd feel achy on that day or the day after and I'd go, "Oh, that's the caffeine or that's the coffee." Or else I'd probably be achy and arthritic every day and not know. And if I was having coffee and red wine, because those are the two things that made me go, "Ooh, that doesn't feel so good. So it's our same, same diets. In traditional diets when you eat seasonally, your diets change with the season and that's how you'd notice more what you're reacting to. But we have the same foods available every day. And that's a problem with diagnosing food intolerances because we're the same.
And so you've mentioned a couple of times that these, like say you do do a food elimination diet and you end up, "Okay, amines are a problem for me, but that isn't a life sentence." When would someone feel confident to start experimenting with bringing those things back in? I believe you talk about this in The Eczema Diet book, because I think it's the FID diet's written up in that. Yeah. Could you speak a little bit to that as well? How do you know when it's okay to start experimenting?
Karen Fischer: (56:06)
Well, I feel like as soon as your symptoms totally get better or partially get better, that's the time to reintroduce and I say, look, reintroduce just... You've just got to maybe once a month, just test stuff. I like to, if I go to a cafe go, "Oh, I feel like eating this today."
It's experiment day.
Karen Fischer: (56:31)
[crosstalk 00:56:31]. Exactly. So I will generally do it when I'm out with friends and I just want to eat something. But I say, if you're really stressed, if you're having a bad day, if you're really stressed, if you're under pressure, that's not a good time to test foods. But if you're really relaxed, if you're laughing with your friends, that's a really great time to try something and just try small amounts because you want to win. So with the initial testing phase, you eat big amounts of stuff to see if you get results. And I'm in two minds about doing that, because I'm like, "Well you want to win." So I know that for me, if I drink a glass of soy milk, I react to it. But if there's a little bit of soy hidden in foods, I'm fine. So I'm like, "I'm not sensitive to soy." Because with your mind stuff, you shouldn't go, "Yeah, I can't have this, this and this." So I'm like, "I'm not sensitive to soy when it's in sensible amounts."It's about testing at the right times when you feel happy and when you're laughing.
Karen Fischer: (57:40)
Some brain retraining techniques involve eating while laughing and smiling while cooking and things like that. It's about not going, "Oh my God. Okay. I'm going to try this and I might react. Okay. I'll notice and if I'm looking for a reaction, I'm going to eat it and look for a reaction." Don't do that. Just don't do that, go, "You know what, I feel great." Visualise eating it maybe for a couple of days beforehand, be really happy and relaxed. So you want to win so you want to do it in low amounts when you're happy.
This reminds me a lot of that holiday phenomenon where people can go to Italy and suddenly eat pasta three times a day and not die, but they come home and they can't eat anything. So much of it is how we are when we're digesting and how we...
I actually had an experience that is really indicative of this. I didn't eat dairy for probably close to 10 years and then I was at work really stressed, really busy and decided to have a banana smoothie and it came out of me in about two seconds. It was a milk banana smoothie and it was the same thing, it was a whole whatever, half a litre of milk or something, whatever it was, a cafe sized banana smoothie. I was hyper stressed. I hadn't eaten in, I don't know, probably close to 12 hours because I was at work and busy and drinking coffee all morning and then I hadn't had dairy in 10 years. My body's just going like, "What is this?" And then over time I started to creep it in slowly and now I can have it, no problem. So yeah, it's very same thing.
Karen Fischer: (59:17)
That's a good example, a really great example. Yes. It's [crosstalk 00:59:21] and it's gradual and sneaking it into the body. It's like, "Oh, look at that nice flower. Look at this. Oh, beautiful sky today." And it's [crosstalk 00:59:32]. It's all about not making a big deal about it as well and being in a good place.
Yeah, well that's, I think that mindset thing and I was going to touch on quickly with teenagers because I know you've had two, or you've got one and you've had one, and acne because it's such a common phenomenon in young people and I'm just curious as to your advice to parents who might be listening, how to navigate that time obviously there's the hormonal factors, teenagers don't usually want to eat particularly healthily. It's all the stress of being a teenager.
Karen Fischer: (01:00:12)
Yeah. I'm just curious about that because I'm still 10 years away from that, but I'm interested in what you think, how we can navigate that.
Karen Fischer: (01:00:22)
[crosstalk 01:00:22] primarily for that.
Karen Fischer: (01:00:25)
Well, teenagers and adults in traditional societies that don't eat the crap that we eat, they don't get acne. And that really does sum it up. And there's research showing four year olds are getting acne, which is ridiculous.And I know that whenever-
Karen Fischer: (01:00:43)
Yeah. And I mean, look, my kids don't eat a perfect diet. They do most of the time, but when it's holidays and I just want to spoil my son or he steals, we only have chocolate in the fridge over the holidays and he... I spoil him a bit and I actually [crosstalk 01:00:58] chocolate. And I know if he eats a whole block of chocolate, he'll have a little spot the next day and I'm like chocolate is a big one because of all the fats in it as well. So things in moderation. And teenagers, they're away from home, they are eating a lot of crappy foods and they're really stressed.
Karen Fischer: (01:01:16)
So look, I do a lot of marketing health food to kids and with teenagers, you just appeal to their vanity. It's like mention that, "Oh yeah, these are the pimple foods and these are the healthy skin foods." It's like, "Yeah, chocolates a pimple food so maybe just have it only one day a week and hey, why don't you have this instead? Why don't you make yourself this oat milk smoothie, we'll put some cacao in it or we'll put some berries in it as well, maybe we'll make a blueberry and smoothie instead. And that can be your sweet treat instead of chocolate." So it really, really is diet related, really is stress related as well.
Karen Fischer: (01:02:02)
I know with my kids, I took the pressure off them achieving well at school. I know that my son went to this high pressure school that gets you ready for high school two years before high school and he couldn't cope with it. And he was anxious and he was vomiting in the morning and all stressed out. And I just, I could not get him out from under the bed to go to school some days. It was actually really stressful for me. And it was an awful, awful time and I just went, "You know what, I'm never going to pressure him to, because he's an anxious type, I'm never going to pressure him to do well at school." I was like, "I just want him to not hide under the bed and to not be so nervous in the tummy that he's vomiting." So I mean, he doesn't do that anymore. He's totally fine, loves school. I'm like as long as he does his homework, great, but I don't care if he's smart or not smart or...
Karen Fischer: (01:02:56)
It's like with my daughter, I was like... We got tutoring for her because she wasn't very smart. And I didn't pressure her to do well in high school, but she ended up getting amazing grades and got into the top architectural university in Sydney, Sydney Uni [crosstalk 01:03:12] end up doing it, because she chose something else. But I was like, that was self motivation. And gosh, she was a nightmare that one in year 12 because she was so motivated, she was crying. And I was like, "Oh." Kids are under so much pressure to do well. So I, for me, mental wellbeing is top of the list for teenagers and children, teaching them how to love themself and care about themself and to have goals, but to not work themselves up into this crazy state as well. And I guess that's just long term chatting with your kids because I know my parents never chatted to me about that stuff.
Karen Fischer: (01:03:55)
I was a really anxious teenager and I cut a fringe to cover the pimples on my forehead in high school because I was this super stressed out teenager. So yeah, don't be like my parents talk to your kid, talk to them about stuff. It's like, I would've loved to have been taught how to put on makeup when I was a teenager. So I could hide all the horrible bits. And I think that would've helped me to cope better, just talking about stuff and asking, "How are you going at school?" A kid will always go, "Yeah, fine." I mean, I did that and my son does that and I'm like. It's kind of maybe play video games with them because that's probably when they're going to open up about stuff, do something they love, sit side by side-
Like get on their level, yeah.
Karen Fischer: (01:04:43)
Get on their level, talk to them because they could be really stressed out on the inside and we need to know as parents because just if they can confide in you that instantly calms their nervous system and helps them to calm down is that connection of, "Wow. My mom really or my dad really knows me. I know I can tell them anything if I get into trouble, if I get stuck out in the middle or in the middle of the night, I can call and go, hey, can you pick me up?" But yeah, so-
God bless parents.
Karen Fischer: (01:05:14)
Yeah. I think that emotional intelligence piece. I've noticed it with our daughter because we didn't have either of us, my husband or our parents who were attuned to that, but we both have tried really hard to hold that for her. And I've noticed what you're saying, if I'm colouring with her or doing something side by side where it's her request and her project and her game, and then she'll just turn to me and she'll say, "Oh, this happened and I didn't feel good and such and such hit someone else and I didn't know what to do." And it's like, "Whoa, you're four and you're able to have this awareness of an event and an experience and then process it verbally." And yeah, I found that to be quite shocking and also good, it's something to cultivate because I imagine when they're 15 or 16 it becomes I'm sure the revelations get more interesting. It's not just someone hit someone with a stick.
Karen Fischer: (01:06:13)
Yeah. Great example as well. Because you just want to always have that safe space where they can do dialogue and if they do confide in something and they've been really naughty, like stealing money or something, you just have to yeah-
Roll with that.
Karen Fischer: (01:06:35)
[crosstalk 01:06:35] in a calm way. Thinking about it before we react. Because kids, oh my God, just as I said, the pressure, it starts early. It really does. My mom talks about me as a teenager. She said, "Oh yeah, you wouldn't even go to the corner shop without your sister." My sister went to special school. She had learning difficulties, but I couldn't walk down the street without her. So that's how [inaudible 01:07:02] I was. I'm like, "Yeah, maybe you should've talk to me more about [crosstalk 01:07:06]."
Yeah. It's a different generation though. I don't think they... I remember my mom being like, "Don't eat chocolate, you'll get fat and you'll get pimples." And I'm like, "That's great." That's not a great internal narrative to start with. I mean I don't, I think she was well meaning in that delivery, it's just, it comes out in a way that your 14 year old self processes not necessarily very well. And I just think we have to remember we can do better.
Karen Fischer: (01:07:31)
Yeah, that's a good example. So how a parent could approach it differently is, "Hey, let me make you this yummy banana smoothie. It's going to be great. It's going to be good for your skin." And just not have the chocolate in the house. So for me, I know I've grown up with terrible willpower. I just don't have it in the house. I actually don't have alcohol. I had a bottle of wine sitting in my fridge for when visitors came over and I went, "I'm actually going to get rid of that because it's advertising." It's like I open my fridge and there's an advertisement for this bottle of wine or this chocolate bar. And so I just literally don't have it in my fridge at all. And so chocolate is a treat that school holidays and special occasions when we're out or at a restaurant that's when you have your wine or your whiskey or whatever. So for me, if it's in the fridge, it's advertising. You can't say, "Yeah, don't have the chocolate, you'll get fat." If it's sitting there, it's like, "Well, it's sitting there."
Why is it here if not to eat?
Karen Fischer: (01:08:38)
Yeah. And I remember the book you wrote on, is it healthy family, happy... You'll have to tell me the title.
Karen Fischer: (01:08:45)
Karen Fischer: (01:08:47)
I loved actually that was one of the last books I worked on at Exisle, I think. I saw it in the library not long ago and picked it up and was flicking through it and you speak a lot about marketing. And I'm thinking, I guess it's so much easier if you instil this stuff early with kids so they don't, you're not trying to get a teenager to suddenly enjoy whatever, liquid chlorophyll or something. You start them on it.... Well, it's like our daughter, we started her on mushrooms and herbs and we're like, "Look, we're just going to put them in a mouth from when she's six months old and she'll grow to like them." And she does, she happily eats them now and same with vegetables and stuff. It's just like a unnegotiable that they're on her plate, but I have used some of your tricks-
Karen Fischer: (01:09:26)
Yeah. Under the age of six, their brainwaves in a, brain's in a theta state and you can download information. That's why [crosstalk 01:09:33] under the age of six, because you're downloading stuff. Whatever you tell them, they don't analyse it, they take it on as fact.
Karen Fischer: (01:09:42)
Yeah. So it's really great to... We do kids parties from the age of one where junk food's associated with fun. I always had carrot sticks and dips at kids parties. So I'm like, "No, carrot sticks are at parties because they're fun too." My kids still love carrot sticks. They still love [crosstalk 01:10:06]-
Healthy brainwashing. Yeah. I remember you talking about fairy plates and my daughter's obsessed with fairies. So fairies will get just about anything down here and just even we just have silly rules like everyone has to eat two orange things before they leave their table and stuff like that. And it really works because it's a game and mum and dad are doing it too. And but yeah, I remember that book really helped. I was like, "Oh, that's a good reminder with little people. Get them early."
Karen Fischer: (01:10:33)
Yeah. I put a lot of those tips into The Healthy Skin Kitchen online membership as well because I'm like, "We've got a lot of kids and parents with young children and that's half the battle is getting them to put the food in their mouth, the healthy stuff." So that's really important.A big tip that I had in that book was, because I know with my daughter every time we pass the corner shop on the way to school, where they sell the ice blocks, she's like, "Can I have an ice block?" And I was like, "Oh God, it's been like a year of, can I have an ice block [crosstalk 01:11:06] today?" So I was like going, "Oh look, why don't we have an ice block day? You choose. What day do you want ice block to be?" She said, "Today." I was like, "Okay, Friday is ice block day." And so pretty soon instead of going, "Can I have an ice block?" She'd go, "Is it Friday yet?"
Karen Fischer: (01:11:24)
And then she knew when Friday was, and she's like, "It's Friday, it's ice block day." And so kids just need guidelines and boundary. Chocolate, junk food, is a sometimes food, but when is sometimes? When the hell is sometime? You've got to let them know when sometimes is. What day they can expect to eat what or else it just looks like you're making it up as you go on, really we are, but kids need guidelines with set time, set day. Fridays after school, treat day. Fried food Fridays or we just need guidelines and even teenagers need guidelines. It's like, "Hey, I'm not going to say you can't have chocolate, but let's choose a day that's our chocolate day just because it's not great for your skin and I know that you're breaking out a bit. I know you might be self conscious let's not ban anything, but let's have a set day for it."
Yeah. My mothers friends and I all do that Friday day thing. And it makes a huge difference like, "God help you if you miss a Friday." Because one time I tell my daughter, I'm like, "Oh, we actually can't go today." She was like, "What?" I was like, "Oh, no." So we had to have a sneaky quick stop. I think those kinds of things and it's just setting up those expectations, like my daughter goes to a sort of Steiner daycare and they have to eat their sun and rain food before they eat anything else. And she's just been conditioned now through that rule that she has to eat her fruits and veggies first and I've-
Karen Fischer: (01:12:55)
Sun and rain food?
Yeah, it's really cute. We weren't involved in that, but we've noticed a huge shift in her just always reaching for those things and every now and then she'll say, "Oh, I went to this other place and nobody said we had to eat our sun and rain food first. And I didn't know what to do. I snuck some of my seaweed first." I just laughed. It's those little repetitions and storytelling I think helps them to understand patterns and how to... I think it starts to build like conditioning, I suppose.
Karen Fischer: (01:13:27)
Yeah. And it calms down their nervous system. Having set guidelines is really calming for a child. If you give them a free for all, they have to make so many decisions for themselves all the time and a five year old, they really don't have much life experience to be able to make good decisions. So just guiding them and even starting late as a teenager, but do it in a way where you're doing something side by side, whether it's being interested in their computer games, [crosstalk 01:14:02]-
Are you really good at computer games?
Karen Fischer: (01:14:04)
[crosstalk 01:14:04] right now so it works.
Karen Fischer: (01:14:08)
My son [crosstalk 01:14:09] when I sit down and help him to build a world and name the colony and whatever, he just, he does, he opens up and he's enthusiastic and happy, but if I get him to do the gardening, he's just like hating on me. [crosstalk 01:14:29].
Well, good luck with the next few years of teenagehood. Yeah, I'm sure he'll be gorgeous. All right, well I want to thank you so much for your time today, Karen. It's been such a pleasure to reconnect and I obviously will link to all of the websites that people can find you on. So Skin Friend for the products, Healthy Skin Kitchen for this membership that we've been speaking about in the new book. And then is it eczema? What's the eczema one, eczema?
Karen Fischer: (01:15:03)
Oh, that's okay. Just those two would just be fine. [crosstalk 01:15:05]-
Those good? Okay. I've got it open in another tab, here it is, Eczema Diet. Yeah. Well, we'll link to those and if people, you have social media, if they want to follow you, is there a specific place to go for that or?
Karen Fischer: (01:15:19)
Yeah, I'm not big on social media, but we do have some. They're on the website, so [crosstalk 01:15:26]. They're all at the bottom of our website. So they're all called different things.
Okay, cool. So if someone was to want to follow up on this autoimmune programme that you'll be launching say in the next 12 to 18 months, would they be best to sign up to any of your newsletters? Will it be announced on that or?
Karen Fischer: (01:15:43)
Yeah, absolutely. So healthyskinkitchen.com or skinfriend.com.
Karen Fischer: (01:15:49)
Okay. Awesome. And we're going to have a copy of the new book to give away, but I'd highly recommend looking up Karen's back catalogue, depending on what your interests are for parents. Is it a healthy kitchen, happy children or something? Gosh, I'm so pregnant right now. Why can't I remember this?
Karen Fischer: (01:16:08)
Healthy Family, Happy Family [crosstalk 01:16:10] ebook.
Healthy Family, Happy Family: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Family. Yes. Yeah. Great.
Karen Fischer: (01:16:12)
Yeah. And we have it in the Healthy Skin Kitchen package.
Awesome. Membership, yeah. And then the Healthy Skin Diet is more that one that covers a whole range of lifestyle and general skin advice as well as some smaller protocols for different conditions. Eczema Detox being more specific for eczema, Eczema Diet. Yeah. So yeah, lots of-
Karen Fischer: (01:16:33)
And Eczema Diet all the scientific back information if people want to know the science before they undertake anything.
Great. And that has also the food intolerance diet for elimination is that right?
Karen Fischer: (01:16:48)
That's The Eczema Detox. And also in Healthy Skin Kitchen membership has it as well. So yeah, the detox book is really great to have in the kitchen and the membership can help you to actually follow the programme.
Yeah. And that's great. The forums and things, I think really help people just to feel part of a community and connected. So it can be very lonely is my understanding, people going through-
Karen Fischer: (01:17:10)
Karen Fischer: (01:17:11)
Absolutely, yeah. With everything that's happening in the world. I'm like, "Oh, people with eczema, they're already socially isolated. They're already struggling with these things." Our biggest feedback is, "Yeah, we just we love it when you talk on a podcast or write something or in forum"-
Hear from you.
Karen Fischer: (01:17:32)
Yeah. That makes them feel less alone.
Oh, well thank you. Hopefully those of you out there listening with skin issues or any interest in this topic's feeling less alone right now. Yeah. Thanks so much again, Karen.
Karen Fischer: (01:17:46)
Thanks Tahnee. That's just been just the best in interviewer. I just really loved chatting with you. So thank you so much.
Thank you. So much fun, yeah.
I had already been practicing cycle tracking and ritual for some years, but this practice immediately brought me into deeper presence and connection with my body, helped to slow me down and brought in another layer reverence to something I had been taught to fear, ignore or hate.