A food by any other name…couldn’t possibly be soy…right?


As I have forged my soy-free existence there is one thing that I have come to understand…nothing is as it seems on food labels. And while you might think you are avoiding soy you are in-fact, not avoiding it at all!

My first clue that I was indeed allergic to soy was when I started dropping weight when I avoided it. And by avoiding it I mean, I basically at fresh vegetables with olive oil and vinegar if I wanted a salad, and if I wanted more than a salad (because I’ll admit salad is my favorite food) I would only eat it if I made it myself. Which is always your best bet, but in this fast paced world – when you aren’t eating enough – it simply isn’t feasible to make everything from scratch.


I started out making sure the word soy was nowhere to be found on my food labels. This basically means I stayed away from:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable protein
  • Tofu

This is the basic list, as I knew it. [3]. Though now on that list is Natto – something I’ve only recently started avoiding. So long as these weren’t named and the allergen list didn’t say “Contains: soy” I thought I was ok.

Then there’s the obvious. I can’t eat at Asian restaurants, which really sucks since I love Asian Cuisine! It’s just too difficult to ensure that I don’t get any cross contaminations. Though  believe me when it comes to soy and my reactions – a little is far easier to deal with than a lot.

While figuring this all out I accidently got some soy when eating out and figured, “what the heck, I’ve all ready gotten some soy and I want Chinese food so I’m gonna go all out”.

(It’s hard to stick to the diet, believe me especially when you really like something, so this mindset can, and will, kick-in at any time. However, what I’ve come to realize is the amount does matter.)

So off hubby and I went to a local Chinese cuisine restaurant we loved and I proceeded to eat my weight in my favorite foods: fried rice, low-mein, egg rolls, egg drop soup, sweet and sour pork, and anything else that struck my fancy, and it all received a healthy dose of soy sauce. What’s the point of rebelling if you don’t go all out?

It was a big bill, but I left with a contented smile on my face. The smile lasted for about 18 hours.

Thankfully Hubby was traveling for work and left the next day. He was gone for two weeks and it’s a good thing he was, because once the symptoms started there was no turning back. And when the dog decides he’d rather be on a different floor than you are on…you know it’s bad.

While I lost weight initially, it didn’t stay off and I’ve had to re-evaluate my strategy to remain soy-free.

Other foods found in Asian Cuisine that might contain soy you might not have thought of are [1]:

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Kinako
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Yuba


From There I made sure I could pronounce the ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. This helped at first, and made me realize my best option for maintaining this was to eat organic and non-gmo foods only. But even this only got me so far.

Here is a list of soy based ingredients that might not say ‘soy’ [1]:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and diglycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, mild, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Then there are the lists of possible Soy Ingredients [1]:

  • Bulking agent
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Gum arabic
  • Guar gum
  • Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols
  • Natural flavoring
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E

Think about those lists for a moment and all the labels you’ve read, seeing those words, and ate anyway thinking they were safe. I know I ate a lot of things that contained those ingredients and ate them anyway because they didn’t say “soy”.

Bad on me, I know. But still, the label didn’t say soy anywhere, so it should have been safe. Right?

If you’d like a quick cheat sheet check out [3] and print it out. Though a much more extensive list can be found in [1], though just be ready to have your boat rocked and just what is in your pantry that could contain soy.
Compiling this has been an eye opener.  There are so many things I thought were safe, and aren’t. No wonder my reactions have been continuously turning more and more anaphylactic. It started with just gastric upset and has progressed to vomiting and migraines when I consume too much soy.   Keep checking back I have more to share.


[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)


[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)


[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD