Tag Archives: living 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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Vibrant Health = Eliminating Allergic Foods

Alannaswing

Almost every year at New Year’s, I think over the past year and take stock of the good and the bad. Last December, I was so sick that I had just quit my job, had choking spells in my sleep that made me think that I was going to die, had suffered my sixth miscarriage, and thought that I would never beat the sinus infection that I had been battling for over a year.

Fortunately this story has a very happy ending, because in February, I discovered a new food allergy (soy.) Now, I can say that this year has been the best year of my life!

  • I have lost 50 pounds since June 2013, and 30 of those pounds happened after eliminating soy in February.
  • I have incredible energy levels. I never feel the exhaustion that I previously felt every single day, and I generally work way more than 40 hours per week.
  • I have not been on antibiotics in almost a year, and I previously took several rounds per year for sinus infections.
  • For the first time in my life, I sleep through the night without needing to go to the bathroom.
  • My acid reflux has gone from my doctor recommending extensive surgery to completely eliminating one of my reflux medications.
  • I have stopped taking 3 other medications/supplements.
  • The “chicken skin” that I had on my upper arms is gone.
  • It feels great to have people tell me that not only look thinner, but I look years younger.
  • I actually know what it feels like to just go to the doctor to check in and ask questions instead of constant “sick visits.”
  • My doctor no longer feels the need to check my cholesterol, which needed regular monitoring before.
  • Instead of eating out several times a week like I previously did, I can now cook easy, delicious meals that are just as good as any restaurant.
  • I have learned to work around my demanding and ever-changing work schedule and still have a home cooked meal at every meal.
  • I have found a handful of restaurants that can cook for me.
  • I am able to travel again.
  • I have an incredibly supportive family that has rallied behind me, cooked for me, and listened to me go on and on about food allergies.
  • I always listened to other people talk about their “calling,” and this year I finally found it through food allergy coaching!

In this new year, my wish for you is that your food allergies will become one of your greatest blessings, and you will look back next December and have your own list of miracles and transformations!

Soy Free Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken With Cream of Mushroom

chickenpeas

I love to use the slow cooker in cooler months. I can make meals in bulk that freeze well for days when I am too busy to cook. I usually cook an whole container of brown rice and freeze in 1 cup servings for later use as well. As always, read your labels carefully as they can change at any time, and note that some folks report issues with eating chickens that have been fed soy.

Many people swear by browning your meat before placing it in the crock pot, but I think that defeats the purpose of a quick and easy meal with little clean-up. Also, make sure that once you start the crock pot, you do not take off the lid until it is done. I have read that every time you take off the lid, it adds 20-30 minutes of cooking time to the slow cooker.

It’s also super easy to make your own cream of mushroom if you have an extra couple of minutes. You really just need some milk or heavy cream, sliced mushrooms, some spices, and a little soy free flour in case you need to thicken the sauce. Just add it to the crock pot, and voila!

Slow Cooker Chicken With Mushroom Gravy

16 pieces chicken tenderloins

1 cup mushrooms (you can use any mushroom here, but I use shiitake)

2 containers 12 oz. Pacific Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup and 12 oz. milk

Onion Flakes, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper to Taste

I also add: Penzey’s Old World Seasoning (1 tsp) and a pinch of Penzey’s Berbere

2 cups Brown Rice (pasta is also great)

Green peas and carrots also make great additions to this recipe.

Place all ingredients except rice in crock pot and cook on high for four hours. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Serve or freezer in individual servings.

Makes 6-8 servings. Great side dishes include spinach or english peas (be careful of other legumes if you haven’t tested them.)

Enjoy!

 

 

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 Body Wash Reviews

Body Wash Soy Free Body Wash Reviews

The day after my soy reaction, I took a day to discard everything in my house that contained soy, including bath & body products, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and hand soap. Because those with soy allergy know that soy is really in everything, I basically threw out everything in my house. I noticed that the rash (Keritosis Pilaris aka “chicken skin”) that had plagued me for years despite interventions from my dermatologist was gradually disappearing.

I think it is well worth getting rid of all soy in your home, especially with the dramatic improvements that I found soon after eliminating soy. (I always like to begin a review article with my usual disclaimer: product ingredients can change at any time and may even vary by distributor. When in doubt, always call the manufacturer, and also test a small area of skin before fully using a product.)

I like to switch body washes from time to time, especially since there is some research out there that suggests that some allergies could stem from using the same products or foods too frequently.

Below are my go-to products and when I use them. Note: These reviews are my personal opinions and I do not have any current relationships or agreements with any of these brands.

California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash

California Baby makes lots of great products from sunscreens to body wash to diaper cream. It’s not just for babies, and it’s great for those of us with sensitive skin. Since I also have seasonal allergies, I use California Baby in the heat of Spring and Fall allergy season when I want to be extra careful of fragrance exposure. It’s also great when you are going to be outdoors and don’t want fragrance to attract insects. I have heard that Target carries this brand, although I am not sure if they carry  the fragrance free version. You can also order directly from California Baby’s website or from Amazon.

Hugo Naturals Shower Gel (Vanilla & Sweet Orange or Lavendar)

Hugo Naturals is my go-to brand for reasonably priced soy free bath and body products. They make lip balm, shower gel, hand sanitizer, shampoo/conditioner/gel, deodorant, lotions, and more. I love their vanilla & sweet orange shower gel for morning showers, and their lavender shower gel is great for a relaxing evening shower. If you haven’t tried Hugo Naturals, I highly recommend it!

Acure Unscented Sensitive Skin Body Wash

While Hugo Naturals is my go-to brand for everyday bath & body, Acure is my go-to brand for keeping my face in tip-top shape. Acure is also widely available in specialty and health food stores, so you don’t have to wait on a shipment for their products. While there are soy free makeup brands out there, I have made the decision to go without makeup for the most part as a personal choice for my body. Acure helps my skin look great so that I can skip the makeup. Their unscented body wash is another great choice for pampering your skin.

Calling all Soyvivors: Do you have other favorite soy free brands for body wash? Share in the comments below!

Restaurants with Allergen Menus

It’s time for school to start, which means that life is about to get busy for a lot of us. My husband and I were accustomed to eating out a lot before my soy allergy, and there are days when I want so badly to grab takeout and forgo the cooking.

Many chain restaurants are now posting their allergen menus. However, there is one thing that I have found to be necessary:

No matter how much information is contained in an allergy menu, it is still important to notify your server and/or a manager that you have allergies.

The thing about soy is that there are some foods containing soy that the FDA does not require manufacturers or restaurants to report. Your meal could still contain soybean oil, soy lecithin, ingredients derived from soy, or “proprietary” ingredients like spices, natural flavorings, and artificial flavorings. There are also cross-contamination and food preparation issues to discuss. I have also had situations where allergen menus were wrong, and of course, we all know that ingredients can change at any time. 😦 The restaurant manager is your best resource for catching any recent changes or errors.

With that in mind, if you are still feeling adventurous, below is a list of restaurants I have found that either provide their allergen menu online or have one to review in their restaurant. This does not mean that I have eaten at these restaurants or endorse them. I highly recommend the Allergy Eats website and app if you want to find out how others rate restaurants in your area.

When eating out, I generally avoid salad dressings and substitute extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for my salad dressing. It’s also best to check to make sure that your salad has not been coated with preservatives (a hidden source of soy.) Stay away from complex carbohydrates like bread, chips, and hamburger buns.  Always make sure that your hamburger is 100% pure beef.

I will also share one restaurant that many soy allergy survivors talk about, and that is Five Guys Burger and Fries. Many of us have tried their plain fries (cooked in peanut oil) along with a bunless burger.

Calling All Soyvivors: Are there other restaurants with which you have had good experiences?

 

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.