All things soy used to be a tasty dream for me. I could eat any meat substitute from soy chicken, soy duck, tofu scrambler you name it, I loved it all. Until my body started viewing soy and all of its derivatives as foreign invaders. So hence, the reason why I had to make a clean break and experience my painful divorce from soy. I’m sure all of you soy lovers out there can imagine how difficult it must’ve been for me to go completely cold turkey. Not only did stopping all soy intake put me in the category of freakish veganism, it just added yet another strenuous layer onto my already strenuous lifestyle. This soy ban has made me hyper vigilant on what I can and cannot eat and has drastically reduced my level of meal enjoyment as well. That’s one of the reasons why I created It’s a Vegan World, to rediscover the culinary palate for vegans like me, all over the world. Eating soy wouldn’t be so bad, if I didn’t have such gruesome side-effects. I would instead be gleefully skipping into my favorite restaurants such as Veggie Grill in Los Angeles, CA or Veganerie in Bankok, Thailand. Unfortunately, there will be no more of that behavior for me.
In this article I share five consistent side-effects and two intermittent reactions, I’ve experienced due to by my allergy to soy. First of all, I must preface this by saying, I am not a medical doctor nor am I a nutritionist, I am simply sharing my own personal experiences and this article is meant for informational purposes only, not to treat, diagnose or cure anyone. It is my sole intention, however, to share the experiences from my own personal story that may in turn benefit you in some way.
So where do I begin? Well. it all began in Lyon, France…
Each morning I would have a pint or so of blueberry soy yogurt, my all time favorite. It was a ritual, I would wake up and get ready for my french class and right before I darted out the door of my studio apartment, I would grab my yogurt from the refrigerator. This went on religiously for 9 months, give or take a few days, until I began putting two and two together. Meaning, until I began noticing undeniable symptoms that put this yogurt obsession to rest.
The first symptom was acne along the cheeks and jawline. At first I thought, “Oh it must be the change in climate and the fact that I don’t have the raw materials to make my facial wash and skin care products.” So this symptom went on undetected and I chalked it up to a new environment rather than being related to my soy consumption. Until I left France and headed to New Zealand and Fiji and had to say goodbye to my favorite daily soy yogurt treat. It was then when my acne started clearing up; however, I still didn’t connect the dots right away.
Bloating and Weight Gain
The second symptom was extremely subtle for me, considering how thin I am naturally. My experience with soy, can be equated to the “Freshman Fifteen,” except my weight gain was only a mere ten pounds. The only way I was able to connect soy and my weight was after the fact. After I divorced myself from soy and cut it out of my entire diet, that’s when those ten pounds or so, fell off like water flowing down stream. A rebuttal from someone might say, “Well you just have a high metabolism.” or “It’s genetics.” Those might very well be logical explanations, still I know my body and when I eat soy, I automatically gain around ten to fifteen pounds and when I don’t, those pounds just fall off.
This third symptom is something I’ve experienced periodically throughout my life. When I lived in California, I had a sales job for a brief amount of time and I had to drive all around Los Angeles and Orange County. So with all of that driving I was doing, I didn’t have time to cook. So, I would frequent this Thai restaurant and get my favorite tofu and yellow curry dish, served with potatoes, onions and carrots. I loved it so much and it was so good; however, that goodness came with a side effect of swollen breasts. Still, I never equated this symptom to my soy intake, I simply thought it was because I was ovulating. Until I was in Chiangmai, Thailand and my breasts had become so swollen that I had to consult a doctor. You see in Thailand, I was eating tofu a couple of times a day because soy is a common staple used in that region of the world. This is when I started to put two and two together and began to lower, not stop, just lower my intake of soy. It would take something a lot more drastic than swollen breasts, for me to divorce something I loved so much and that had also been a staple in my life for over two decades. It took this next symptom to force me and soy into a dispute that has now resulted in irreconcilable differences.
Problems With Menstruation Cycle
There was a comedian one time, I couldn’t tell you her name to save my life, but she once said, “Menstrual cycles are like airplane food and cruise ship buffets, you don’t always want it, but if you don’t get it, you’re like, where’s mine?” This is real talk for women, our menstrual cycles are a constant monthly companion and I have been lucky to have had one that has worked like clockwork, every month without fail. Except when my body had practically OD’d on Soy. Now, if I have too much soy, I mean more than half an ounce of soy, it will cause me to have two cycles in one month – one every 14 days! This is when I put my fork down, drew up the permanent divorce papers once and for all and issued a restraining order between my mouth and soy. Making certain that the two stay as far away from each other as humanly possible, for the rest of my life. Most of all, to make certain that the divorce took permanent effect, I admitted more evidence to my psyche to prove that I had to make certain to stay away from soy for good.
Excess Hair Shedding
There is something about our menstrual cycles and hair that connects us women to our femininity and when these two things get messed with, it can really do something to our self-esteem. When I noticed excess hair shedding, I immediately thought, “What on earth is going on?” I didn’t have a clue, all I knew was how frightened it made me. With that said, it again wasn’t until after I cut out soy completely and from time to time, mistakenly ingested soy, that I was able to put the puzzle together and identify my allergy. So it wasn’t my divorce from soy that made me realize the allergy, it was my inadvertently ingesting soy that allowed me to solve the many unanswered questions that had plagued me for years. There were also some other symptoms that weren’t as consistent for me to consider them as a dead give away to my allergy, but they most certainly raised some coincidental eyebrows. That’s why I have labeled them below as intermittent experiences.
Intermittent Experiences Included:
This isn’t something that I associated with ingesting soy, until I had my last bout of accidental soy consumption. So after that last ingestion, like clockwork, I had my extra menstrual cycle for that month accompanied by two days of heavy bleeding. With something as excruciating as this, you might begin to understand how much of a nightmare this was for me. Especially with something that tastes so good and that I loved so very much. Still I don’t love it enough to endure these symptoms any longer.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Another symptom that surfaced after my last allergic reaction to soy was vomiting and diarrhea. I’m not sure if it was my body going into shock from the loss of too much blood or if it was the actual soy, still I don’t wish to find out ever again. These symptoms have instead been placed on the intermittent list and serve as a proper argument why the divorce must remain intact and permanent for the rest of my eating days. So even though I loved soy in every way, unfortunately, for me personally, I have had to divorce this delectably versatile food that continues to be enjoyed by millions around the world, for the sake of my health.
Have any of you ever experienced any of these issues relate to consuming soy? I would love to hear your story. Also please remember to stay connected and join the conversation as well as continue to stay in the know of any upcoming events, vegan news and updates.
As always, Stay Well and Think Green,