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FAQ: What Contains Soy?

May 23, 2012

Q: What foods do you have to avoid if you’re allergic to soy?

This question was most recently asked by a six-year-old kid in my primary class. This was definitely the allergy that surprised me the most with Joseph for how we would have to avoid it, partly because it amazed me how prevalent it was, and partly because there is so little information about the soy allergy compared to other allergies. So, since we have determined that Joseph has outgrown his sensitivity to soy, these are the things that we can put back in his diet.

Chocolate: Finding chocolate without milk isn’t super hard. There are a few brands with semi-sweet and dark varieties that don’t have chocolate. But finding chocolate without soy lecithin is extremely rare. Some doctors say that soy allergic people don’t need to worry about soy lecithin, but Joseph’s eczema didn’t start clearing up until I removed all soy lecithin from his diet. So it is nice to have more candy options open to him.

Non-dairy: The real killer with the soy allergy was combining it with the dairy allergy. The most common non-dairy foods are soy-based. I’ve been able to find milk, cheese, and yogurt that were soy-free. However, the soy versions are significantly cheaper. Also, now I will be able to use soy cream cheese and soy sour cream in recipes, which I have been unable to find without soy.

Asian Food: Stir-fries, and other asian food would be natural to turn to on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, since no substitutions need to be made (as long as you’re using gluten-free sauces). If only it weren’t for that darn soy sauce that’s everywhere. And there really is no perfect substitute. I’ve tried blending various ingredients, but the option I liked the best was to substitute for fish sauce. The fish sauce, however, doesn’t have the same coloration, which makes the food seem a bit odd.

Processed Foods: Since soy is so cheap, its used everywhere in ready-made foods. Tuna is nearly impossible to find without soy. Cooking spray apparently needs it to make the propellant. French fries, chips, sauces, and salad dressing all use the cheap soybean oil, so we had to be careful with those. And this doesn’t even touch the stuff that I was already avoiding due to gluten and dairy issues.

So yes, I find it a real blessing to be able to have Joseph eat soy again.

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