Tag Archives: coping with soy allergy

My One Year “Soyversary” Is Here!

To kick off the celebration of my “soyversary,” I am publishing before and after photos and more about my story throughout the coming weeks. I have had food allergies for years, but the discovery of my soy allergy on February 23, 2014 changed my life in ways that are nothing short of a miracle. I want to publish photos and information so that you can also be encouraged in your food allergic journey.

The photo comparison below is an important one for me, and both of these photos are from Cade’s Cove in Tennessee. The first photo is taken in March 2009, one year after my husband and I were married. The reason why this photo is so important is because it was taken before my six miscarriages and during a time when I thought of myself as reasonably healthy. This photo shows that even though I thought everything was OK, I look back now and see a very tired and low-energy gal.

Now, take a look at the photo I took last month. I not only see an energetic, vibrant person, but I see pure joy, and that is something that I cherish more than anything. I see hope for a healthy future and the energy to enjoy life.

If you are just beginning your food allergic journey, you should know that it took me years to get to this place, but that does not mean it has to take years for you. Your miracle could be right around the corner with a team of qualified and educated friends, family, and professionals that can help you get there. An AllerCoach should be one of those people.

Cades Cove Collage

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Allergy Alert: This Is Why We Read Labels

justins

I was in Whole Foods today, and as I picked up a jar of my go-to almond butter, Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, I noticed something different. I noticed a “may contain” statement including soy and peanuts. I kept thinking, “surely I haven’t been buying this all along with a may contain statement on it!”

Then I started to remember that I had seen some of my fellow Soyvivors talking about their use of Justin’s almond butter and knew that something was wrong. I went back to the shelf and noticed that one of the classic almond butter containers had a may contain statement and one of them did not. I checked the expiration dates, and the container with the may contain statement had an expiration date that was a month longer than the container without it.

I had lots of questions swirling through my mind. Did Justin’s Almond Butter always potentially contain soy, or did they change equipment? What caused them to suddenly start putting this statement on their labels?

Either way, I will be switching brands. I happily found some 356 brand almond butter, and hopefully Whole Foods will be more consistent with their labeling.

This is why Soyvivors or any other food allergy thriver should read product labels every single time. You never know when equipment, ingredients, or manufacturers will change their mind about their priorities and their products.

Review: Tasterie Mail-Order Allergy Friendly Treats

Tasterie

If you have been anywhere on the web, you have seen advertisements for mail order companies that will send you a box of gourmet foods each month directly to your home. While they look delicious and seem tempting, anyone with food allergies knows that there could be lots of potential problems with a subscription to one of these services. Not only do most of them not offer allergy-friendly options, but you do not have much control over what is sent to you each month.

About four months ago, I found Tasterie, a company founded by a pediatrician mom of a child with food allergies. There are a few options to choose from in your monthly package: Top 8 Allergy; Gluten & Wheat Allergy; Gluten, Wheat & Dairy Allergy; or Nut Allergy.

At first, I kept trying to convince myself that it was a frivolous expense. Eventually I came to realize that food allergies can take a lot of the “surprise” and fun out of your food, and I wanted to get some of that fun back into my life. I subscribed to the Top 8 Allergy box.

I have to say that I was excited when my package arrived. It was great to see real foods that I could actually eat, and the great part was that none of it was in my local stores. I was really seeing treats in my box that I would not have found anywhere else, and that was exciting.

My Tasterie box helped me to realize that there are a lot of options out there that are waiting to be discovered.

According to Tasterie’s website, the company goes to great lengths to find allergy friendly products, but as far as ingredients go, there were still a few items on the label that concerned me. I would say that they worried me not because I did not trust Tasterie, but because I know how many times companies have given out wrong information about their products. I did try to reach out through Facebook and ask some questions about a few items, but I did not receive a reply.

I have been receiving my box for about four months now, and I have received an assortment of cookies, chips, sweets, pastas, and drinks. Baking mixes have included muffins, pizza dough, cakes, and cookies. You also receive product information and a recipe with each box. Everything I have tried is delicious and I have not had any problems with any of the products so far. As always, everyone is different and it is always best to reach out to the manufacturer if you have any concerns.

I now look forward to my Tasterie box each month, and every time I open my box throughout the month, it gives me joy. Tasterie is an expense, but if you are looking to add some variety and surprise to your food, I would highly recommend it.

 

Soy Free Halloween Candy

My first blog on candy was at Easter, and you can read more about that candy list by click here. Since then, I have become much pickier about what I eat and have had several instances where companies were not as transparent about their ingredients as they should have been.

As always, keep in mind that everyone is different in their reactions to the same product, and product ingredients can change at any time.

HalloweenCandy2014

Surf Sweets

Surf Sweets declares on their website that they are soy free and also free of several other allergens which they list on their website. They make gummies, jelly beans, sour gummies, and fruit rings. Their peach rings and jelly beans are my favorite! I find them most often at Whole Foods.

YumEarth Organics

YumEarth Organics was the first brand of soy free candy that I found, and I actually found it at TJ Maxx. (side note: If you have a TJ Maxx in your area, take a look a their food section! I have found a lot of soy free products and health foods there.) I have also seen the candy at Whole Foods, and there are likely others as well.  They make pops, fruit snacks, gummy bears, sour beans, and candy drops. You can find an allergen chart on their website that lists common allergens and which ones are found in their products. Soy is included in this chart, and none of their products contain soy.

Enjoy Life

Enjoy Life is free from the top 8 allergens and makes chocolate chips, cookies, bars, seed & fruit mixes and more. I especially love their Gingerbread Spice cookies. I have seen Enjoy Life products in many grocery stores, and this is a great brand not only for Halloween but for every day use.

Theo Chocolate

Some folks with soy allergy given the OK by their doctors to eat soy lecithin, but for those of us that are not, it is very difficult to find chocolate. While I am uncertain as to whether every Theo Chocolate product is soy free, the bars that I have eaten did not contain soy ingredients. Their products are also organic. I LOVE their chocolate, but it is very rich chocolate, so some kids (and adults) may not prefer it. I buy my Theo Chocolate at Whole Foods, but I have seen their products in other stores as well. I have seen some folks use Erewhon graham crackers (soy free), soy free marshmallows (not sure of what brand), and Theo Chocolate to make smores.

Calling all Soyvivors: What other soy free candies have you found? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Soy Free Dishwasher Detergent

Guess what most dishwasher detergents contain? You guessed it…soy. Some of you may find that this is not an issue for you, but I do not want to take any chances. I have actually heard of folks becoming sick after changing their dishwasher detergent to one containing soy.

I believe that any time you can get rid of soy from any product, it is worth it.

Many brands that you would think are soy free may not be. If you are using anything you can find in a store, including Method, Seventh Generation, or Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, do yourself a favor and call them. You may be surprised at what they tell you. In fact, many “green” or “natural” products contain more soy since the company is going for plant-based ingredients.  Click here for tips on how to call companies about their products. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to call the manufacturer before using any product including the ones mentioned on this site, since product ingredients can change at any time.

There are two brands of dishwasher detergent that I will review here.

Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel

This product is a liquid, and I would not recommend. The directions say “Fill just one detergent cup. If excess sudsing occurs, use less.” Unfortunately I learned the hard way what “excess sudsing” meant. Granted, I do not have hard water, but I used about half of a detergent cup, and my dishwasher overflowed with suds. It was a mess. After several loads of trial and error and more excess sudsing, I finally realized that I would have to use as little as a teaspoon (yes, really!) to keep my dishwasher from overflowing.

Earth Friendly Products has new Wave Automatic Dishwasher Packs that could be worth a try, but I will not be purchasing any more of the gel.

Sun & Earth Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs

I have mentioned before that I use Sun & Earth for everything from hand soap, laundry detergent, cleaning wipes, carpet cleaner, and everything related to the kitchen. They were also rated as Best All Natural All-Purpose Cleaner by Good Housekeeping.

Sun & Earth’s “dishwasher pacs” clean my dishes far better than any of the store-bought products that I have used. The packs are convenient and leave no mess, although I would recommend keeping the package away from moisture or heat since they are “quick dissolving.” I would recommend buying several packages at a time, because sometimes you will find that some of Sun & Earth’s products become temporarily out of stock for a few weeks at a time, and I like them enough that I do not want to run out.

Calling all Soyvivors: Are there other soy free dishwasher detergents that you use? Please leave your favorites in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Time Saving Tips for a Soy Free Lifestyle

Many Soyvivors were leading a busy life before they found out about their allergy. They may have been working full-time, raising children, caring for aging parents, or many other of life’s challenges that keep us moving constantly. A food allergy discovery can be devastating to those that have absolutely no time for the hours and hours of research, shopping, phone calls, cooking, medical appointments, emotional turmoil, and self care that all arrive simultaneously like a big slap in the face.

If you have just found out about your allergy, or you have been struggling with the enormous amount of work involved in dealing with your allergy, know that taking some time off from your busy schedule could be critical to the rest of your life. If there is any way that you can take some extensive time off, you definitely need to, and even if it’s a day off, do it NOW. You need time to learn to cook again, learn to shop again, memorize soy ingredients, call manufacturers about food, household, beauty, and medicinal products, and take time to connect with other soy survivors that can give you invaluable advice.

I have a few tips for all of us on our quest to live a happy, soy free life:

  • If you just discovered your soy allergy, you must seek help from a medical professional right away that can give you long-term care and advice.
  • Until you have time to research all of the products you need and test how you react to products, stick to this simple rule of cooking: Only cook whole foods that have not been fed any soy with 100% pure spices and non-soy oils (coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, etc.) This basically means cooking from scratch for now until you can research and connect.
  • Try to have at least 2-3 soy free items in your fridge or freezer at all times that can be eaten quickly and with little “fuss” that don’t require cooking from scratch. Here are some ideas:
  1. Soy-Free Bread (check Out Rudi’s options), Justin’s Almond Butter, and pure Honey for sandwiches
  2. A Soy-Free Pizza (Try Amy’s Soy Free Options)
  3. Salad Mix with Some Sliced Almonds
  4. A baked potato with toppings
  5. A high-quality frozen lunch option (Amy’s has some great soy-free options)
  6. Quesadillas (Udi’s has a soy free tortilla, but not all products are soy free)
  7. Applegate Natural Uncured Hot Dogs (Applegate has a lot of soy free options, but not all are soy free. They can provide you with a list of items with soy.)
  • Take 2-3 hours each week to cook a batch of something for your freezer that you can use on busy evenings when you do not feel like or have time to cook. Here are some ideas for this:
  1. If you can tolerate chicken, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (no clean-up!) and bake on 350 for 15 minutes. You can put individuals tenderloins in sandwich bags and then put all sandwich bags in a larger freezer bag. Freeze and reheat when needed.
  2. Bake some fish using the method above for 10 minutes. Freeze.
  3. If you can tolerate beans, cook a package of dried beans and freeze. You can try putting a cup of beans each in sandwich bags and freeze all in a large freezer bag.
  4. Cook a large package of rice and freeze using the method above.
  5. Cook a large batch of some of your favorite recipes. My lentils recipe, my slow cooker curry chicken, or my tomato-less spaghetti freezes well.

You will be surprised at how quickly you will fill your freezer with meals that you can use when you just don’t feel like or have the time to cook.

You may also find one or two restaurants in your area that can offer a soy free carry-out option. For me, I love plain wings and a tossed salad from Mellow Mushroom, or a baked potato and a garden salad from Wendy’s with some sliced almonds added for protein.

Planning your meals a week at a time can also be a huge time saver. I have four weeks worth of meals on a spreadsheet along with the shopping list for each meal. I copy and paste what I want for the week which creates my shopping list from there. It keeps me from having to spend precious time and energy during the week stressing about what I am going to cook and making unnecessary trips to the grocery. I will share my meal spreadsheet in upcoming blog posts.

Also take some time to think about how others in your household can help you. They may be more than willing to help you when they find that it relieves a lot of stress and creates more harmony in the house. For instance, because of my reflux, I have to eat early before my husband arrives home from work. We have an agreement that I will cook and he will clean up. You may find that some of your children can help with the dishes or your older children may be able to help with soy product research. If your nearest health food store is a bit of a drive from your home, ask others to pick up items from you if they are visiting, and offer to do the same for them when you shop.

I would love to hear about your time saving tips for thriving with a soy free life! Please share in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating With a Food Allergy

Happy Independence Day to Everyone (a day early)! Shortly after Independence Day is my birthday, and it is another reminder of how drastically my life has changed. I was brought to tears this week by a simple question from my husband.

“Honey, what do you want for your birthday this year?”

In previous years, I would have asked for one of the following: a nice meal at a fancy restaurant, an overnight weekend trip, a pedicure, a gift card to buy beauty products or cosmetics, and the list goes on. The birthday celebration would have followed with a birthday party at my parents’ house with all kinds of delicious high-fat, high-carb celebratory foods and desserts along with several visits to restaurants offering birthday coupons over the course of the month.

When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I realized how quickly I had been stripped of my creature comforts and how much my life had truly changed. I had no idea what I wanted for my birthday, because all of my go-to habits of celebration and gifts were gone.

But that is when the word “habit” caused me to take a moment and think. Soy Allergy has a lot of downsides, but is it so bad that I have been challenged to rethink all of my old habits?

Perhaps this is actually one of the best things about being allergic to soy. You are forced to think about what you really want instead of relying on the old habits of what you thought you wanted.

My birthday celebration is becoming one of the best yet. First, I had a lovely meal of fresh tacos with my husband, parents, brother, sister-in-law, and precious nephews. My dear Mother made a to-die-for banana pudding with vanilla wafers made from scratch. In years’ past, we would have eaten ourselves silly to the point that we would all sit on the couch and do nothing afterwards. Instead, we all went outside and took a walk and played badminton. Our topic of conversation: the great new farmer’s market in town that we were all hoping to visit. It was much better than a meal at a fancy restaurant, where I would have been a nervous wreck wondering if the cook had made a mistake that could send me to the hospital. What kind of birthday would that be?

My husband and I are planning a day trip to the mountains to celebrate my birthday. I opted not to plan an overnight trip since I wanted my day to be as uncomplicated and care-free as possible. I know that we will have just as much fun as we did before my soy allergy discovery.

I have learned that I have something to be thankful for:

My soy allergy has forced me to get rid of many of the material things that I thought I needed to be happy, and it has made me realize even more that the things that really make me happy have no price tag and do not come in gift packages or food packages!

It sounds cliche, but once again, this very challenging situation has become one of the best things that has happened to me.

Just a side note: There is a great website that has provided a lot of inspiration for simplifying my life. It’s called Be More With Less, and I found it to be really helpful in my quest for finding what is really important in life.

Calling All Soyvivors: How has soy changed your life? Are there other ways that you have found to celebrate holidays and birthdays?