I thought I'd take a detour from talking about Celiac Disease and talk about soy allergies! Sadly, gluten is still not considered one of the Top 8 allergens, since it isn't technically an allergen either. (But we are making small progress). The Top 8 allergens are Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Milk, Eggs, Wheat, SOY, Fish, and Shellfish. Hopefully, we can expand that to 9 soon. Or really, in my ideal world, eliminate them completely and no longer have allergies, but of course, that's impossible. Soy allergies can be mild causing stomach distress or ichy skin, but can be severe causing anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening (hello Epi-Pen!). Many children (toddlers and babies) who have a soy allergy will outgrow it, but many also do not.
Now, back to soy. Soy is HUGE and used in practically everything if we want to be honest here. When I developed this allergy, I was a lot more upset than finding out about Celiac! Not only could I no longer have edamame and tofu, but even some of my favorite teas contained soy lecithin. The other thing about soy is that it's one of the big GMO crops that should only be bought organic. But people overlook that when soy is in many many many processed foods. I finally found my beloved Van's Gluten-Free Pancakes in this specialty store back in Jersey last week. I loved those things and had them in the early years of my Celiac and then could never find them again. Well, I flipped over the back to look at the nutrition label and saw a big CONTAINS SOY. I cried inside :/
Some people are touchy about soy even if they don't have an allergy. They hear all the studies about soy being evil and increasing your change of cancer, etc. But I'm all for eating whole natural fermented forms of non-gmo soy. There is nothing wrong with some fresh edamame, tempeh, or miso. Just stay away from the gmo and overly processed forms and you should be fine.
But this post is about soy allergies, so I made a list of the soy terms you need to look for on all packed foods and whole forms. Here we go!
Grab this word search activity to help teach your kids which soy terms to look for on packages!
The Red Flags are obvious forms that always mean soy. The Yellow Flags are ingredients or sources that may be soy or soy-derived so you should use caution and find out more before consuming. However, there is a caveat about Soy Lecithin, which I put under Red Flag. Soy Lecithin is an extremely processed form of soy where the protein is removed, thus making it "possibly" safe for some with a soy allergy (depending on their sensitivity). There is said to not be enough of the soy protein residue to produce reactions, but I stick to the side of caution and health and avoid it 100%. Soy Lecithin is found is so many processed products and is used mostly as an emulsifier (helps mix water and oil), stabilizer, and preservative. It is artificial and extracted from the soybean with harsh chemical solvents and usually comes from the big GMO crop.
This questionable form of soy, as well as other Yellow Flags, can be found in things like tea, soups and broths, canned fishes or meats, sauces, spices, processed cereals, chocolate, baked goods, frozen foods, low-fat products like peanut butter, etc. So just like gluten, you must read and scan every label! There is also easy cross-contamination with products and while eating out. Asian cuisines are very "iffy" as soy is used a lot.
For those of you who are vegan as well as soy-free and maybe even gluten-free, you may be concerned about your options. No soy milk, soy yogurt, fake meats, tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. But don't fret! There are great alternatives out there like...
- Coconut aminos (for soy sauce)
Hopefully, this list can be useful and help keep us all a bit safer. Living with food allergies, whether you have one, two, or all 8 (or 9), is hard at first, but is completely doable. You can be safe, healthy and from my point of view, pretty badass 😉
So tell me:
+ Do you have a soy-allergy?
+ Have you ever had hemp tofu or tempeh? I need to get my hands on some!
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