Keeping Well as an ‘Allergy Parent’ with Callie Mackenzie
Ellen: My guest today is Callie Mackenzie and in her pre-child life, Callie was a medical doctor working in a variety of clinical and research roles for nearly 10 years. When she became a mom, Callie's life changed in ways she might not have imagined at the time. She became an allergy parent. Today, Callie runs Kid Proof Food, providing education and support for families dealing with food allergies, while also juggling family life with three children. She's passionate about helping form connections and seeing parents move from feeling overwhelmed to empowered, showing them simple strategies that help give them a shortcut to managing their child's food allergies with greater confidence. And today, we're talking about Callie's experiences, what she's learned about managing her own wellbeing in the midst of the challenges that severe food allergies bring, and her tips for you if you find yourself in a similar place. Welcome, Callie.
Callie: Hello, and thank you. That sounds very impressive. I hope I live up to it.
Ellen: People are often impressed to find their own bios. [crosstalk 00:02:13] This is what you do. So, Kelly, can you just start by telling us ... Give us the background. So, I introduced you as having this experience as a medical doctor and working in a clinical field, but then things did ... I mean life always changes when you have children. There's no doubt about that, but you kind of got an extra set of challenges that came along with that.
Callie: Yeah. I mean I have three children and my two oldest actually did have food allergies as well, but they had what they call non-IgE food allergies. I think it's commonly known as cow's milk and soy protein intolerance, and so that meant from my very first child, I was very used to having to label-read and exclude soy and dairy from their diet and my diet when I was breastfeeding. But there was no life-threatening component to it. They just got a bit fussy. They had bad nappies and everyone was a bit miserable.
Callie: But then, along came Caleb, and everything kind of very much shifted on its head. So, Caleb ... All my kids are roughly two years apart, and so Caleb and I were home one day. Caleb was sitting on my lap and we were watching his two-year-old brother playing on the mat in front of us. And Caleb must have squawked or done something and, as a two-year-old does, my other son ran up and shoved his finger in Caleb's mouth. Now, I didn't really think anything of it, other than to say, "We use kind hands.” And we just kept playing and then, over the next ten minutes, Caleb got progressively more unsettled. He wouldn't latch on to feed. I couldn't work out why he was crying and, to be honest, I hadn't actually looked at him. I was just watching my son. And I took him upstairs thinking it must be a nappy thing and I put him down on the change table and that's when I realized that he was covered in hives. His face had swollen up. His eyes were shut. What I could see of his eyes, he just looked terrified.
Ellen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Callie: I realized that my son had been eating a peanut butter biscuit and he had a little bit of peanut butter left on his fingers, and so he directly put peanut butter in Caleb's mouth. At this age, Caleb was four and a half months old. He hadn't started solids. This wasn't even on my radar as a thing. So, I called my husband, called the ambulance. To cut a long story short, we got taken off. He got treated, stabilized. We were discharged and, because my husband and I are both doctors, we decided to use our phone a friend option. Called our beautiful friend, who's an immunologist, and she got us in the next week and she skin-pricked him and it turns out that he was actually allergic to gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, in addition to the dairy and soy that we already knew about.
Callie: And so, for a child who hadn't even started solids, already, our feeding and our relationship with food and everything else was disrupted and it was just this blindsided. Everything felt scary. Nothing felt safe. And I just felt overwhelmed. Despite knowing the system, despite being medical, knowing the language, knowing great people to ask for help, I was just in a spin. And so, really, that's kind of where it all started.
Ellen: Okay. And, is it unusual ... Would it be unusual for a child to be diagnosed with those sorts of allergies at that age? Because, as you said, they've not usually started solids.
Callie: Yeah. When we were diagnosed, we were the youngest in the clinic. We were the youngest that they've ever had. But now, when we go for our clinic, there's two or three bubs of that kind of age. We definitely know that food allergies are on the rise in Australia and you hear lots more stories these days, of moms dealing with multiple food allergies from a very young age.
Ellen: Yeah. Do they know yet why that is?
Callie: There's lots of different theories. Some of it goes to the gut microbiome and the disruption, how your body learns to recognize food proteins based on what bacteria is in your gut. There's other theories about the age at which various foods are introduced. There's been a big study that shows if you introduce things like peanuts before the age of 12 months, you've got a much like an 80 percent risk reduction food allergies. Whereas, for a very long time, we had a recommendation that you delay introducing those foods. So, I think that there's multiple factors. There's definitely a genetic component as well as environmental. There's no one simple fix. And then, some food allergies will go away. There's definitely a lot of research going into it, which is really exciting as a food allergy mom.
Ellen: Yeah. I have a nephew with an anaphylactic peanut allergy and he's a middle child. There is a bit of a family history of things like eczema and asthma, which I believe could be linked in this somewhere. He was second child, first child, fine. My sister had no reason to think that any of her ... Like you say, it wasn't even on the radar. [inaudible 00:07:11] because second child and no past history of food allergies, so I think he was about very similar sort of story, but he was a little older. I think he might have been around too and exposure to peanut butter and the sudden kind of he went limp, I think. [crosstalk 00:07:25]
Callie: It's the longest ten minutes of your life waiting for that ambulance to come.
Ellen: Yeah, yeah, so incredibly stressful. He's actually participating in one of the clinical trials. I think it's at The Royal Children's Hospital here or in Melbourne, at the moment. So, I'm very admirable. I have a ten-year-old sold as well. They're same age, within weeks of each other, and he is persevering through this kind of exposure and, I think, probiotic. Which is tough, because he has to put up with just feeling unwell a lot of the time, because he's actually been exposed in a gradual way to peanuts. It's a huge commitment, too for family to go through all of that. That's just one side of it.
Callie: Yeah. There's a lot to it.
Ellen: So, you talk about feeling overwhelmed, even though you're a trained medical doctor. You've got expertise, you've got experience, you've got contacts in the field. What were those first months, and even years, like for you? What were the challenges?
Callie: I think, initially, just based on my personality more than anything else, my immediate reaction was to get control of what I could control.
Ellen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Callie: So, I got very organized. I pulled everything out of the pantry, I label-read everything, I marked everything safe or unsafe, I became very rigid around how Caleb's care would unfold. We couldn't go to certain places, we couldn't do certain things. And I think that there's studies that show that your personality definitely impacts the way food allergies play out for you. So, for someone like me, who has a tendency to be a little neurotic, for me, it was actually I could gain control and I could feel comfortable with the checking and the rechecking and the rule side of it. But the problem was, I was just getting more and more rigid with how I did it, and more and more isolated.
Callie: Whereas, for my husband, who has this really beautiful personality that's open to new experiences, it really chafed much more for him, because we had gone from being people who ... Because his background is Indian, so we'd go from people who traveled to India or Asia, or go to [inaudible 00:09:54] can't do it, partly for a good reason. He's a very able child with multiple food allergies. There's reason behind it. But I mean, I think the first few years were definitely feeling overwhelmed. Because it's not just the food allergy so frequently other things run along with it, whether that be, as you mentioned, eczema, asthma, and for us it was profound.
Callie: So Caleb got to the point where he had complete food refusal. And we were talking about having to admit him to hospital and put Jays down and all this sort of stuff. So you do feel like you're constantly going from the immunologist to the gastroenterologist, to the dietitian to the feeding therapist. And all the time I just kept coming back to the fact of he was sitting on my lap, and I couldn't keep him safe. Like you get quite focused on what's not going well and what's not easy in your life. And well I did, it sort of trapped in that victim photo. This is happening to us and this is so hard and I can't keep him safe. Or how am I going to grow him up? How am I going to send him to school and you get very quickly down a rabbit hole feeling like you have no agency in a situation.
Ellen: And it's an echo, that's something I talk about to lots of people, lots of groups and the coaching clients is that kind of circle of influence and circle of concern. So the things in life that affect us that we can do nothing about, you could do nothing about the fact that Caleb had this severe multiple allergies, it was something that-
Callie: It's just life.
Ellen: Yeah, and it feels like it's being done to you if you stay focused in that kind of this is happening to me and it's not fair and which as you say, is kind of ends up being a very negative and disempowering place to be.
Callie: I mean, I think because there's so much practicality as well, that goes along with reality. So there's so much additional work. So that time where you might otherwise be able to sit down and read something about self care or do this or do that or help yourself. You're actually in the kitchen baking or doing lunch boxes or planning five steps ahead of where's he going? Who's he going with, who's going to have the EpiPen? Who do I need to talk to? So there's just a huge amount of additional work. In addition to the mental load that goes with food allergies, that really was a tribute unless you're very conscious about it, getting new stock and keeping new stock for quite a period of time.
Callie: I think often, you see your immunologist once or twice a year and they are in a basic clinic because there are so many food allergy kids and no one really ever has the time to say to you, "How are you doing? How are you hoping?" If you are avoiding your allergens, your child is healthy so you're not frequently at the gap. So the gap doesn't have that opportunity to check in with you and see how you going.
Callie: Very hot but no food allergy parents to understand what you're going through so you can find very quickly that you don't have a sounding board really, to fact check, to you see whether your concerns are valid or how someone else dealing with, what tips or tricks like it's very strange sort of situation to find yourself and I think because your natural reaction is to retreat from that social connection because you're trying to keep your child safe but really that's when you should be stepping forward and reaching out and that is being one of the biggest things that I've noticed is been shifting with this whole online world and social media and that sort of thing. That's a really big difference to win away with very first time diagnosed.
Ellen: Yeah, because things have changed quite considerably [crosstalk 00:13:50]. So at that stage, those early months. So at this stage, you've got an infant, a two year old and a four year old or thereabout. I mean, just even that itself sounds overwhelming. So you've got that, you've got as you said, the mental load that constant kind of thinking, checking, worrying, anticipating, planning, plus the practicalities of food preparation and managing that.
Ellen: Plus then the social isolation. So I think that's really interesting. And we'll talk a little later about the things that you have found, have helped you in terms of your well being, but that social isolation and I'm wondering whether is that I can see that you withdrawing because it's just too hard to do play dates, it's too hard to go to cafes, it's too hard to engage in those kind of everyday things that other people would take for granted. Did you find that you are met with resistance from other people who perhaps didn't understand, almost kind of resented that you were somehow trying to make things more complex?
Callie: 100%. Absolutely. And I think unless you've seen a reaction, it's really difficult to explain what it is and how it feels and just that gut wrenching will do watching your child. I think there's a lot of fad diets, there's a lot of trendy, exclusion practices that people kind of think of jumping on a bandwagon or they don't understand the severity or why you're doing it. And part of our role is phrenology parents is educating other people and advocating for a child, but it does get exhausting. Sometimes you just want people to get it.
Callie: I've been really lucky from a family perspective, but that is another huge issue for a lot of people is family understanding and expectation especially all generations were this just wasn't a thing when they were bringing their kids up and they don't understand it, and often grandparents like to show their love with treats or dating, however they often that centers around food and you throw it restriction what you tell them no you don't doing it right or you can't do it or all those sorts of things that certainly does fracture those relationships as well. And even within relationships, if each partner has a different expectation or as to how they should go. So it's definitely the friends and the wider community, going into a cafe and having to persevere through every single ingredient Caleb I have. Sometimes it's easy to just decide what easier as opposed to what's not.
Callie: And even then the other day I find a restaurant and sort of started trying to go through it and I just got shut down and hung up on and just sort of thing I can say your perspective, boss. It doesn't help people when they're already feeling fragile and tired and overwhelmed, be met with that.
Ellen: That sort of resistance. And it's interesting actually what you said about until you've seen a child have a reaction because I think even some may it was when think the boys might have been, maybe four something. Yeah, that would have been four because my youngest was a baby, and we took all the kids with me and my sister and my parents took the grandchildren out to a wildlife park. And no, it didn't occur to anybody, but my nephew had the kangaroo food, and the little pellets that they give you to hold out and feed the kangaroos and that was fine. But then we suddenly realized, and I think I'd taken my little girl off to change his nappy in the change rooms, and my sister comes screaming through the door holding Max, and the whole of the side of his face is just, and I took a photo of it because I couldn't believe how extreme his I eye had disappeared. He hadn't eaten that we think what's happened this looping or something in the food, the animal food, and he just rubbed his eye. And yet the whole of the side and I didn't really had that diagnosis of theology for a couple of years by that stage, but I didn't appreciate even as his aunt just had some this thing was that something he didn't even ingest had basically just his face look like a swollen balloon on one side.
Callie: Do you think he got in their airway.
Ellen: Absolutely. Yeah.
Callie: Yeah, it's very hard to comprehend I think. And so I think you met with a lot of disbelief or minimizing or its hard for people to understand sometimes I think.
Ellen: So it's really an education component. And you've taken that a step further, which we'll talk about shortly. But even just in everyday life at a level of education perhaps of people who don't always want to be educated.
Callie: Absolutely and that's the other thing you have to be incredibly careful with how you do it but I guess if you just keep in mind that the ultimate goal is for your child to be included and feel just as much a part of things as any other child. You can take everything with a grain of salt if you're doing it for someone else really caught you.
Ellen: Yeah. Change your perspective absolutely out of the role of a parent. It's interesting what you said to about the personality I have a background and personality psychologist on my favorite topics. So and the fact that different personalities will respond to situations like these experiences like this differently.
Callie: Yeah, I showed my husband is like "See, this is the thing."
Ellen: So for you it was about trying to control which makes logical sense and I can imagine for a lot of people that it would be that okay the only way I can deal with this uncertainty, this level of threat in my life to my child, and therefore, to some extent to myself, is to try and tightly control it to manage it.
Callie: Absolutely. I think unlike other chronic medical, I mean, not like all chronic medical conditions. But you know, food allergy is a chronic medical condition, that really the only intervention at the stage widely available outside clinical trials is avoidance and carrying a lot of responsibility, like the entire intervention is essentially on the primary caregiver. I also have to educate everyone who's then going to subsequently take on the child. So yeah, there's a lot riding on it.
Ellen: Yeah, and so some people will and I can imagine, I'm wondering whether even within that community of allergy parents people would respond differently due to their personality or due to their previous experience, but certainly personality would be people who feel very anxious, very worried, try to taught me to control things other people. As you said your husband, more relaxed, perhaps from a day to day perspective, but then resentments and challenges pop up elsewhere.
Callie: Yeah, I think it definitely some people will experience more grief as to what they've lost other people will be anxious about what the future might bring. My husband when I mentioned I was doing this interview, and I said, "What's been your experience?" And he said the hardest thing for him was the changes to my diet. Not the kids, not dealing with anything there. But just the fact that even when we went out for dinner, it was omnipresent because I couldn't eat soy, milk and eggs that crosses when I was breastfeeding. And for him it changes even the way he and I were on the social thing, and it's just lik I hadn't even registered in my top 10.[crosstalk 00:21:54].
Ellen: To get that other person's perspective and to find out that there's things that upset or irritate or frustrate that are not on your radar and probably vice versa. Yeah, interesting so interesting. So in terms of I noticed a bit of research now into the mental health and wellbeing challenges for what ... Is allergy parents and okay to my music. That's good. So, what do we know from a scientific perspective around mental health challenges.
Callie: It's been quite a bit of research. And we know from the kids' perspective, that they probably have quality of life schools on par with children who have type one diabetes, so they certainly have separation anxiety, which kind of makes sense, separated from the parents. So they've got separation anxiety, they have high schools for coping in an anxious manner. So that hyper vigilance around food and restrictions around that.
Callie: In that slightly older age group. So the 10 to 16 is sort of a listen, kids who have come through with these longer period of restrictions, they also have the separation anxiety, anxiety and depression. But there is sort of a link with some of the more restrictive disordered eating. And so that is sort of another sort of emerging thing. Children who have multiple episodes of anaphylaxis can experience posttraumatic stress kind of a parents. And then for the kids in particular, we know that there is a higher rate of bullying of kids with food allergy, so rough depending on the study, 25 to 45% of children with a food allergy will experience teasing or bullying related to the food allergy.
Callie: And that might just be a resentment about the fact that you can't bring cupcakes into classes over birthdays, or to the extreme that we've seen sort of in the UK and the US of people being force fed or tortured with their allergen. For parents, it shows particularly mothers more so than fathers, and I guess that's more a permanent caregiver, and it wasn't specified whether it was occasionally normative couples that their experiences hot off, I have higher rates of anxiety and depression on some studies. Others don't show that, but they definitely do show that they're living with high levels of stress and distress and low quality of life than the non allergic parental peace. And it definitely has been my experience in terms of speaking to other parents that even if I don't meet a criteria, and I've heard a clear diagnosis of anxiety or depression, I certainly don't feel like you're living your best life, so to speak.
Ellen: Yeah. What in positive psychology we call languishing. So this kind of if you look at the full spectrum there, there's people who I'm doing hand signals here of normal curves that nobody else can say. I'll put a link to it in the show notes, but that we have a certain segment of population who have a clinically diagnosable level of distress then we have a certain say on of the population who just called languishing, so it's not even good mental health. It's just, struggling not thriving and flourishing, which is what we aim for at the other end of the spectrum.
Callie: Absolutely. And I mean, I think it's a bit like you look at chronic pain, I guess, like you can't take the pain away. Right, you can change your experience with the suffering. I think that's similar idea like you can't take the food allergy wipe it, the suffering aspect of it, doesn't have to.
Ellen: How did you start to uncover that and move from that kind of peps? If not clinical distress, the languishing through to thriving at the other end, how have you managed to start to change that mindset or that level of suffering?
Callie: It's been a slow process even before Caleb came along, I've been I guess once again, it's a personality thing. And being a doctor, I wanted to do parenting the right way. I now know that that is just another rigid thought, they were wise. But at the time, it did lead me into some good rating. And one of the things I found was [inaudible 00:26:17]. And I was listening to a talk, she was giving an imperfect parenting and in the beginning of that, she said, "We can't give our children what we don't have ourselves." And that was just a light bulb going on for me because I just thought, you know what, I don't want my kids growing up anxious or worried, or feeling uncomfortable in this world. I want them to go out there and grab the world by its throat and live a happy life.
Callie: And so it kind of really compelled me to find better ways of because even before Caleb came along, obviously, the two very young kids close together. It's not easy. So I didn't want them to grow up with this kind of heaviness. And so I'd sort of started writing things and dipping my toe into writing about mindfulness, and all sorts of things and values, but it was all very cerebral. And then sometime around my 39-40 years of ego, I'm sitting in the kitchen with one of my mates who just finished a PhD. And she said, "Oh, man, just submitted self care really tipped off these last few months. But the last few weeks, I've hit the yoga mat, I'm back into mindfulness. I'm feeling great." And I'll just flow like I really honestly had this concept that self care was selfish, it was a luxury. It was something that people who will wake kids, I had this real resistance to it. Like I prayed about it. And I was like, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense." I can understand about need to wear this and that, but it wasn't something I was doing.
Ellen: Well you thought you could do?
Callie: But I could do.
Ellen: Could pay attention today.
Callie: Yeah, and that one comment was enough to make me feel, I really respect this woman. She's amazing. I adore her and she does this. And so very, very slowly and initially once again, I was quite rigid with it because I wanted it to be I had it rather than doing wrong, I had to so I did my meditation every day I do my yoga every day, and I did that for a good four months, and the change was phenomenal. It was the stuff that got me well and then it also then allowed me to become more flexible with how I approach the stuff that they will come on to make me happy. So the things that made me well with sleep getting enough sleep with young kids is never easy, but actually not telling myself that story as I have to stay up till 11 o'clock after everyone's in bed, and my husband's gone to bed just, so I can have an hour of me time.
Callie: But then I wake up at six in the morning, and I'm exhausted and bumpy and so maybe that hour will be better use sleeping. So finding ways to build in your sleep, eat better, because I was the mom that ate the crusts, when everyone else ate pizza.
Ellen: That was your dinner?
Callie: Yeah, kind of really making a conscious effort not to be that martyr anymore. Not to subjugate my needs to everybody else's to actually say "You know, what, me being well above and beyond the biggest gift I can give you guys." Because if I can't figure it out, how on earth am I going to help you? And so, then October 2017, I went back to uni. And so it was a business degree. It was nothing medical. It was just something I wanted to do because I was helping out with the books in my husband's practice. And honestly, it was the driest subject in the world, it started like it was accounting. And then it was something else. But it was just like a lot of going back home. I was using my brain, I was doing group work, there was a lot of group work. One of my subjects was I guess it's the psychology of the workplace. So there was a lot of reading material that was just fantastic for me and for where I was at the time. And so building on that I then really started to look at skills and strengths and I uncovered crystal meth, and that for me, was life changing. So, I'd heard of self care, obviously, I don't think you could live anywhere other than under a rock. Is it nice to not hear about so.
Ellen: True, although a lot of it still is about bubble barbs. And-
Callie: It was an article in Sydney Morning Headlines on the weekend about how well being is turning us all into Narcissus. Because we're also busy looking inwards that we forget to, and it's just like [crosstalk 00:30:59]. That's the greatest movie in the sculpting.
Ellen: So much more than that.
Callie: But yeah, this idea of self compassion was the missing piece for me. I was the stereotypical female doctor who went straight into med school out of high school, I did everything I was meant to do, I was fast track to a specialty training. I was never very client myself. It was high expectations. There was no prizes, not meeting those expectations kind of thing. And I could be incredibly compassionate to my patients and my friends and everyone else around me, but I didn't give that to myself. And I think my daughter, she's seven now she had this streaming saw it when she started kindy.
Callie: And so we were seeing a psychologist with her, and just the lessons, hearing how she was being taught to speak to herself and to look after herself. And if herself kindness and understanding and understand that there's not a rational wrong way of doing things is it's just wise and some helpful and summer and learning about feelings, and all of this sort of stuff like it was honestly, life changing for me as well as for her. And so bringing in all of that idea of the self compassion and being able to reach for that in the moment rather than having to wait 12 o'clock, and I could jump in the bathroom, whatever it might be. It was something where I could reach the moment go, this is coming apart. I'm not doing a great job, but that's okay. I'm trying and being able to sit with that and just soothe myself in that moment to pick myself up and keep going and then the mind so that practice of not a calming my very overactive brain.
Callie: I do tend to be a ruminate. So having the tools to note it and just go, "Oh, well, I'm not going to buy into that. I'm not going to identify with that. I'm just going to let that go." And the awareness side of the mindfulness practice so I can feel now "Oh, you're getting a bit anxious about the situation. Where are you feeling? What does it look like? Where is it sitting in your body?" Okay, let's just, so using those tools that mean that now I can have a difficult conversation with a restaurant, or I can have a situation where I get a last minute phone call sign coming for free challenge tomorrow. And you're all the fields of "Oh my God, I've got a ingredient that would never have in a house now I have to get him to eat it tomorrow. Oh, my God, what's going to happen? Are they going to be able to deal with it if something goes wrong?" So, I'm just feeling a bit anxious about that.
Callie: That's okay. So it's these tools, and I'm coming from a better place because I've slept with all of it. And I've gone for my run depending, which college or club last it's either around Centennial Park or it's running along the beach so I am so much more set up to be well, and then have these additional practices that just helped me feel happy, but main that my experience in living with food allergy, and the stresses of bad and the stresses of parenting to other kids with multiple needs and our husband who's incredibly busy and all those things, throwing the two dogs with Michelle, like it really hasn't changed the way is a family function. And it's certainly bringing those little moments of joy and connection much more frequently and made being able to relax and be flexible, rather than this rampant rigidity. Certainly lets the kids relax. Needs boundary absolutely but they don't need neighbors' rules. So when you can soften and say yes, being able to give them that gift has been huge.
Ellen: That was amazing, as I left them at home in still in their pajamas on their screens, because it's the first day of school holidays, he started school holiday. And it was that kind of "Oh my god, this is bad. I shouldn't be doing this." We should be finding activities for them. And then the part of me that went, well, you know what, I've got to go to work and I could nag my husband to do something about it because he was home with them. Or I could just go You know what, I don't think it really matters. I apologize. Let's just let it go. They're having a great time. I'm not going to be there to say it. husband doesn't really care. Let it die.
Callie: Not their lifestyle yeah, absolutely. And I think the other thing is that particularly for allergy siblings, I often suffer alongside and that's so my change has probably had a much bigger impact on them than it has on Caleb. I mean, Caleb will break the benefits when he's older but for Annabel and Nathan, my finding ways for them to still experience like that, scrambled eggs is one of their favorite foods or boiled eggs with toast fingers. And for a really long time, I just wouldn't do it.
Ellen: Yeah, it's too hard.
Callie: A lot. So right now I'm just like, you guys really love it. And I'm actually just saying no, because I can say no, because I'm the mom. So you know, let's try and make this work. How can we do this since I sometimes I'll do it at home and the other like the other times Annabel and I will go and sit in the cafe together and make that time and make that moment and I won't be the moments always I know I won't be the moments always meeting with resistance. And it's those little moments that bring you the happiness that just make you realize that this is what I'm doing all of this.
Ellen: Yeah, it's so interesting. All of that that combination of the way we think and perceive a situation the way we then manage our thoughts around that, all of that permission giving that we really need to get to it in order to be able to enact all of this. Fortunately, the term self care, you may have listened to I interviewed Susie Redding, who has a book called The Self Care Revolution. So she talks about this and her own experience of actually having to get to kind of rock bottom, just feeling completely burnt out and overwhelmed as a parent and as a family member as a partner in response to circumstances that she had no control over and realizing that she had to kind of build yourself back up from niche. And yet decided that self care is not about the bubble baths or what you might do more frivolous things, although if you like a bubble bath, and it's good self care, go for it. But it is about it. Sometimes it's about a lot of time. It's about sleep, and it's about exercise. And it's about having some people structure and retain that they didn't have of other people letting go of some of the structure. And rigidity, as you mentioned, that they do have, and it's actually a bad at its core, allowing you to be happy and to your best self and thrive and flourish.
Callie: And I think you can't really do food allergies without a degree of Rigidity and without a degree of Structure. But I think once you've got that set up, you rest on that to them build on the other stuff. And that's fine the life for us, so, my pantry is still military position organized and lunch boxes still happen. And yes, I still go into my talks to preschool about safe and unsafe, and I'm still there, and I'm still doing all those things that need to be done speaking safe. I haven't let that but I'm doing it with a different set point, I guess.
Ellen: [inaudible 00:38:47]
Callie: Yeah, it is. It's all about the reframe, and it's all about taking responsibility and getting conscious and saying this situation isn't working for me, but it's on me to change it. And yes my mate Jane giving me that permission, in a way to not say it as weak or indulgent or selfish or anything else. But yeah, it's about taking responsibility and saying it's actually on me to change this because no one else is going to do for me, because no one else knows the best way to do it for me.
Ellen: Yeah, it's a very personal experience. So Callie, you help others through your experience and your knowledge and your medical background, I'm guessing to some extent as well or at least being immersed in that side of things. You help other parents who are perhaps finding themselves in a position of just being diagnosed or dealing with the overwhelm. If there's someone listening who's at that point with it really just feeling like they're drowning in all of this and they're struggling and you had something you could tell them to ship them away from that, what would that be?
Callie: I think the first thing is to just acknowledge to yourself, this is hard. This is hard. It's not what I expected. It's not what I would have chosen for my child. It is hard, but I also do need to find a way through this. So it is that it's accepting and acknowledging and validating your feelings because you might not get that validation anywhere else. So you've got to give it to yourself. But then you also have to say I have a wife, I need to find my three days. I would say, the food allergies, it's always much easier to feel in control and comfortable when you have a degree in Order around how you're going to do food. So whether that be organizing your pantry in a certain way, whether that be meal planning, whether that be going to the supermarket without kids and reading labels.
Ellen: Having the time?
Callie: Yeah. And so finding ways that the practicalities of food allergies can be attended to. Because if you're constantly having to read a label every single time you're reaching for a snack or trusting that the babysitter will remember to read that label or whatever it is, that's just going to go over and over in your mind in the background. And so it's always going to increase your anxiety levels. And then I would say, just acknowledge that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and you do need to find ways that are going to help you manage that. So whether that they ... For me, I don't think I could do this without the sleep, eating exercise pace, and then the meditation and yoga has been huge for me.
Callie: But then the social connection as much as you want to retreat and stay safe as anything that's short term, your social connection might be an online one. Really to find like minded people who get it and can support you and if they're 10 steps further ahead on the allergy journey to guide you. Reach out for that help, you don't have to reinvent the wheel yourself. It's been invented, it's been refined, it's there ready to go reach for that. And then, I would say, really just understand that food allergy is a constantly changing landscape.
Callie: So it may be that your child is going through a different developmental stage, it may be that their allergies are changing, and they're growing out of things that may be, all of those things. And so, if you can maintain a degree of Flexibility, help your child through that kind of thing. It certainly will make your allergy journey much easier. Yeah, it's one of the things I was going to say this skyped me.
Ellen: I often introduce things that there're four things and then I'm like, but I can only think of three of them. One of the things that just as you saying that final piece about the landscape always changing, I guess to from a research and from a medical point of view, the landscape is changing as well. But there is, as you said, right at the beginning, a huge amount of work being done, which is wonderful. And so I'm guessing that even just staying in regular contact with your immunologist-
Callie: Typically, you have very young children, you should be going at least once a year. When we throw in, just last year, she was hopeful that when we go back this time, Caleb might be able to stop peanut patches.
Callie: There's this new things coming all the time. And as your child ages, they're likely to tip over into an age group that might be able to enroll in a trial. There's lots of different things that change, they might grow out of a food allergy. And that's a whole other thing to get your head around once you've been so rigid about him. All of a sudden you have to find ways to introduce it and get your child to eat it.
Ellen: Yes, the confidence and trust I can imagine for you and for the child would be.
Callie: Yeah, so I mean, I think it's a huge shift. And there's so many different aspects to it that you would probably never anticipate until you've lived it and walked it. So just be kind to yourself in the journey more than anything.
Ellen: Which is wonderful advice. I think probably from most of our lives went nowhere, allergy parents or anybody else, that self compassion and being kind and accepting that we are all human, and that humans find things hard, and sometimes we make mistakes and we can't control everything that we'd like to be able to control and that's okay. It is okay.
Callie: It is okay.
Ellen: Callie where can people find out more about you and other particular I know, we've mentioned Kristin Neff, and Brené Brown, Brené Brown comes up a lot with my [inaudible 00:45:04] amazing lady. And I'll put links to their work in the show notes. They can find you at keeperfood.com is that right?
Callie: That's right and also on Facebook and Instagram. Look, I think for food allergies specific things. The Australian Society Clinical Immunology Analogy is called a scam, and they have a website that's got lots of very factual information. So if you do want to a cheat sheet on that allergy, and that sort of stuff, that's a really good place to go. The podcasts that I found really helpful in terms of almost like that permission pace for self care and the mindfulness meditation. There's a lady called Amy Tyler, who runs Happy Mama I've really enjoyed listening to her podcasts. She has a very kind of heart to parenting and mothering. And she also does these beautiful meditations for kids compared to explores, which is fantastic for anxious kids. And they just little guided meditations and let them stripped off to sleep in a really beautiful way. So if your child has often, allergy kids do have anxieties. It's a really nice way to reset at the end of the day.
Callie: If you are a social media person pop on and say you can find like minded people in the food allergy space. It's been an incredibly eye opening thing for me. I was so resistant to Instagram, I had no idea how it worked. What it was, it wasn't for me I'm too old. And that has been incredible. I posted the other day that we were going for a food challenge. I got lots of well wishes but then I also got other people coming back in as I might have to check in and say how's it goes on. These are the moments who have been there who've done it you understand those mixed emotions and feelings. They do hold space for you to, to show you your trials and tribulations and lots of factual information.
Callie: One account that I would suggest is called land of can. That's why young guy, his name is JJ and he's American. But he grew up with a nut and dairy allergy, and he's now in his early 20s. So his perspective is entirely of a child. So I'm coming at it from a mom this is my lived experience as a child growing up with a food allergies. He does a weekly interview with his mom and dad my chat about the challenges life experience. But yeah, he's lived experience and he does this little diary almost or conversations with his apple and G or this happened to me as a kid, how would you tell your child to deal with it? So, just sort of forecast challenges that might come up and how I might want to go about it and your pitfalls to avoid kind of thing. I found it a really interesting accounts.
Ellen: So that was land of?
Callie: Cannot you can.
Ellen: land of can. Okay, that makes sense. Yeah. Okay.
Callie: Yeah. So that's probably, that's more than once.
Ellen: Yeah, wonderful and it keeps proof food you offer so you've got guidance there for cooking and strategies around. What are the other things that you cover? I know I've looked at it but not in perspective.
Callie: Look a lot of it at the moment, I'm still in that development phase. So, we're fleshing out a membership that's going to be based on like a six step. Thrive with allergies, and we'll be getting guest experts into doing interviews and looking at, foundations of food allergies, and then how to thrive and then beyond that, really at the moment on the website and on my social media, if it is it's a lot about sharing food, it's the allergic conditions. So the first thing how you might address some of those issues looking at some of these trickier things like relationship with families. Self care well being, deep diving on random allergy ingredients you might never have heard of. And just really trying to have that conversation to normalize the difficulties of allergies, but to remind people that they don't have to say stop there, yet there. Better ways of doing things for yourself.
Ellen: Yeah. And that was one of the things that triggered our conversation, from my perspective was a blog post that you wrote, excuse me losing my voice early, because the beginning last month beginning of March, which is called the Art of Well Being as an allergy parents. So a lot of the things that we've talked about today are really beautifully written in that blog post. I'll link directly to that. But people can find all of your blog posts and the other pieces that you've just talked about, all there on the website through social media account, and we can all look forward to seeing that unfold as it becomes a wonderful resource.
Callie: Yeah, it's exciting days.
Ellen: Very exciting. Callie it's been so lovely speaking to you. It's given me some different things to think about us, even as an allergy aren't. But also just so wonderful to see all of those things that we talked about so much on the podcast, those elements of self care, the mindfulness, the thinking skills, the sleep and the food and all of these components that we know help everybody to thrive and flourish. And to see how beautifully that has worked for you in the context of these particular challenges that you and your family face.
Callie: Yeah, absolutely. And if I can give someone a shortcut through that feeling by sharing my experiences, it is 100% worth it.
Ellen: And I have no doubt that you have done that already as people have listened to you. So thank you again and people can find out more at kidprooffood.com.au You.
Callie: Thanks so much, Ellen.