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Living a Soy and Milk-Free Life: 4 Month Progress Report

I started this blog 3 months ago. It’s time for a progress report on my health and what I’ve learned. Here’s a “before” the discovery…and “after”.

The Before

4 months ago, I discovered I had an allergy to soy, one year prior to that, I discovered I had an allergy to milk. I am in my late thirties, and after seeing several doctors about this, I am able to confidently attribute my newfound allergies to enduring 4 years of intense chronic stress. When I ingest anything containing milk or soy (even the smallest amount), my skin will itch.

Throughout 2011, my skin felt like it was on fire. The only relief I could get came from an application of cortisone cream to my entire face and back.

I had already worked to eliminate milk from my diet that year, but I was still feeling intensely itchy. Once I discovered my allergy to soy, I made drastic changes in my diet and cosmetics, and I felt instant and major relief.

The Discovery

Products containing milk seemed to be far fewer than those containing soy. Soy is in everything. EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. It was extremely frustrating to learn that all my favorite foods and restaurants are not good for me. So, label reading ensued. I threw away bags and bags of products in my pantry containing the pesky culprits. [Check out this fantastic summary about soy allergies (thank you to my newest reader, Dania), which includes a list of foods that contain soy: Living and Eating Well with Food Allergies – Soy Allergies]. I stopped eating fast food (except for a special order at In-N-Out). I discovered it was quite difficult to find any entree at any fast food joint that does not contain soy, and near impossible to find an entree without soy AND milk.

Then, I learned about my body’s reaction when soy touched my body. Hoping I was doing something healthy for my skin after scratching it raw, it seemed reasonable to apply pure vitamin E directly onto the problem areas to aid in the healing. After 4 days, my skin felt worse than before. “What is in this vitamin E anyway?” Pure soy. Yep. Vitamin E gels are derived from soy. Ohh! Then I discovered that my makeup, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor blade, skin care products, and sunblock each contained soy (look for the ingredient tocopherol, which is the vitamin E ingredient, and is most often derived from soy). Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies…and my skin was absorbing a great deal of soy every day. See my post, “My Lipstick Contains Soy!” and Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries”.

So. No touching soy. No eating soy. No eating milk products. Got it.
I soon discovered other foods caused my skin to itch. Almonds. Grapes (and all forms of it including wine…boo…). Some candies — I suspect it’s the food coloring, like red 40? Eliminating those foods have helped keep my skin happier. There are a few more foods that give me mild reactions, but I am in denial about them and someday I will have to pull up my big girl panties and admit I should cut them out of my diet too. Hmph.
Oh. I should also say…my chronic stress is gone and what’s left is a day-to-day normal level of stress. How? I’ve done my best to:
(a) eliminate the sources of stress (Actually, this part was largely out of my control, but I did make decisions to bring balance into my work/home life, and to make choices to not overbook my calendar)
(b) enjoy the people in my life (my son, my dear friends, my new sweet boyfriend (!))
(c) spend more time doing the things that give me peace (playing the piano, singing worship songs, praying, painting, doing photography, etc.)
(d) exercise whenever possible, and
(e) sleep more than 6 hours/night

The After

Relief. Sweet relief. I haven’t used cortisone cream in a couple of months. Woo hoo! My skin has healed from the intense scratching. My reactions are milder when I have an accidental bite of the no-no foods (OK, perhaps they’re not all accidental), and the reactions don’t last for days anymore. I suspect this is because my body isn’t being overloaded by the allergens anymore. Perhaps my liver needed some time to clean out. Today I ate an iced animal cookie (I couldn’t help myself) with full knowledge that it contained soy and dairy and that I would have a reaction. My skin itched instantly, but the itching went away after 30 minutes. So I ate another one. (OK, please. Stop laughing. I’m PMS-ing so I can’t be held responsible for my lack of self control.)

I’ve noticed I’ve been able to tolerate small doses of milk products again — like using butter in the pan for cooking eggs. It’s a good thing, because my 3-year old will not eat his eggs if I use any butter substitutes, like safflower oil or sunflower oil.

And here’s something unexpected: I’ve struggled with thinning hair since I was in my early 20’s. My hairdresser noticed last month that my hair is thicker than it was in December. Hmm…
I lost a lot of weight initially because I was afraid to eat and I hadn’t discovered many options for me yet. Now that I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, I’ve gained some of the weight back (and I’ve been told I look healthier now). I feel comfortable in this size, despite the fact that my new size 4 jeans I just bought in March don’t fit any more.
Hey people, I’m reaping the rewards of a soy and milk-free life! Tell me about your progress! Let’s encourage each other!

The Blog

I must mention something I find super cool: I started this blog in February, 2012. Since then, I have received over 2,300 hits from people in 42 countries. I haven’t written in 3 weeks (sorry about that), yet the blog now gets between 40-60 hits per day due to various Google searches and Pinterest re-pins. Wow. Just wow. I’m so happy that others are benefiting from what I’ve learned. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning from each other.

In Wellness!

11 responses »

  1. Abigail Loraine

    Soy allergies are the bloody worst! I was diagnosed 3 years ago w/soy allergy and feel like I had to give up so much foods others get to eat with no problems. It’s in EVERYTHING! Soy has infiltrated our diet & lives & it’s terrible. I think the food & drug industry gets off too easy not having to label as “soy” but using other code/chemical names for soy!!!

    Soy free Vitamins:
    NOW brand – several have none of the top 8 allergens – can find at Whole Foods or Sprouts
    Solgars – several have no soy – found at same places or order online
    Trader Joe’s prenatal vitamins says it’s free of soy. Been taking them & don’t seem to have a reaction but you may want to call them if you have a severe soy allergy

    Supposedly Ultra Pure Cosmetics are soy free but I have not checked them out yet.

    California Baby bath, shower, shampoo & conditioner products are also soy free & organic – you can check their website. Sold at Whole Foods.

    I don’t have a dairy allergy thank goodness (soy is bad enough) but for those of you that do Trader Joe’s Almond milk is good (and label says soy free too) and the Califa brand of Vanilla Almond Milk & Coconut/almond milk are delicious & label says soy free too. I drink these at times as an alternative to milk and they have the thinness/consistency of regular milk & taste really good – great in smoothies 🙂
    I also blame the USDA for allowing Monsanto to put out so much GMO/GE foods. Not natural anymore, maybe that is why food allergies have surged in last 10 yrs!

    Good luck everyone – we need it -it’s almost hell living w/food allergies at this level.

    Reply
  2. I agree to everything you said about soy and tocopherol allergic reaction. I am also allergic to chocolate, potatoes, and yes apples. I find out in August 2012. Every since I changed my foods my body no longer aches, especially knees. The brain fog is gone. And I don’t take gas and antacid as much. I am also lactose in tolerant. This is what i learned from the meds I take. Looking up the inactive ingredients. Synthroid and Crestor have lactose mono hydrate in it which is not good for lactose intolerant people. I told my doctor last month. And he said he learned something from me. And he look it up and research. I no longer need the Crestor. And my thyroid have changed to Tirosint after telling my endcrinologist. You have to be your own doctor at times.

    Reply
  3. Hi, I just found your blog on a Google search. My 15-month-old son was just diagnosed with a milk and soy allergy and I am overwhelmed and overloaded with information on what foods he has to cut out, and what alternatives I can use. I just want to cry looking at the ingredients in all his (and my 2 older childrens) favorite foods! My mind is blown right now by all of this, and I must say, I’m a little scared about how much everything is going to cost me when I make my first venture into Whole Foods.
    After reading about your skin issues, I am a little curious about maybe if I myself actually have an allergy? I have always suffered with environmental allergies and dry skin, but the past year has been brutal on my body. I had a difficult pregnancy with my youngest and have had tons, and tons, of extra stress on my life this past year. My skin is so dry and cracked and itchy it’s maddening! No amount of lotion, moisturizers or anything seem to help! I plan on reading more of your website to learn about how my family can benefit from a milk/soy free lifestyle. I would appreciate any well-wishes sent my way as we start this journey of wellness for my precious baby boy.

    Reply
  4. Does anyone know if Mary Kay cosmetics are soy free? Also how do I order soy free at In and Out?

    Reply
    • Abigail Loraine

      Mary Kay products are not soy free. I used to use them & would break out. If you go to their site you will see where/which products use soy or soy derivatives, it’s about 98% if not all.

      Reply
  5. YOU HAVE HELPED ME! Thank you. It was just three weeks ago that I learned I was allergic to soy albeit a blood test I took a few years ago indicated I was allergic to soy sauce which I continued to consume . I was getting sicker and sicker. The day I figured out that it was soy making me ill was when I loaded up a health drink with a couple of scoops of a supplement made from soy. I was so ill that I went on line and goggled all the possibilities for the reaction I was having. I read about soy allergies. Within 24 hours of not ingesting soy I was better. It has been your blog that got me to realize that my continued minor problems were due to my cosmetics. I just read the ingredients of my Cleure for sensitive skin lip balm wondering why my under lip tingles all the time. The number one ingredient in it is soy. My face is still clearing up from the Vitamin E I have been using on it (which I thought was helping). I feel very betrayed by the food and cosmetic industry because they have caused this problem by putting soy in so many of the products that our bodies are saturated with it. I went through my kitchen cabinet last night and I emptied it of half the products because they contained soy. The heavy night time itching I have suffered through for years is also gone now . It seems that my body starting screaming at me in November by exponentially reacting to allergens. My only hope now, is that I can recover and that I don’t have permanent illness from poisoning myself for so many years. I so highly allergic to other products in cosmetics that I was using Cleure that is made especially for people with my sensitivities. I’m going to have to consult with them to just get the products that are free of soy. Additionally, I am allergic to eggs, some types of fish and so many other foods that I am going to have to develop a list of what I can eat and carry it around with me. I am lactose intolerant but not lactose allergic so I can consume a small amount of cheese with dairy ease tablets. Check out acid/base (alkaline) diet for building the immune system.THANK YOU RENA!

    Reply
    • You said, ” I feel very betrayed by the food and cosmetic industry because they have caused this problem by putting soy in so many of the products that our bodies are saturated with it.”

      I couldn’t agree more, Dania.

      I’d sure appreciate if you’d report on what you find about soy-free cosmetics. I’m using Bare Essentials Bare Minerals, although I’m not terribly happy with the color match and I’m looking for other soy free makeup brands.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dania. It’s so nice to know you are feeling better already!

      Rena

      Reply
      • I have also been recently diagnoised with a soy allergy and Holy Cow, it is EVERYWHERE! Thanks to coutless hours at the grocery store and beauty stores, I have found a few products. Smashbox actually makes some tocopheryl free prodcucts but you have to read the label. Not all Bare Minerals are free of the soy and vitamin E products. Read, read, read labels! Also, anyone know of a soy free vitamin??

      • Good to know about Smashbox! Thank you for that, Sara. Yes, I’m aware that not all Bare Minerals are free of soy and vitamin E…it appears that any Bare Minerals pure mineral makeup (in powder form) is ok, but the skincare products and anything moist or liquid contains soy. Yes, double and triple check the labels!

        There are lots of soy-free vitamins! Any health food store should carry multiple brands of vitamins…make sure the bottle clearly reads, “no soy”. I wrote about a couple of vitamins here:

    • Dania, I just found an eczema website that has soy-free lip balm. http://www.eczemacompany.com/soothing-eczema-lip-balm/

      Reply
    • Hi, my daughter, 5, has similar allergies as you. Soy and shellfish showed up on tests, but she has reactions to eggs and gluten as well. Like milk. I just cant eliminate dairy, eggs, gluten and soy long enough to test it iut – the kid has to eat SOMETHING! There may be other things too but when my head stops spinning from trying to figure it out ill report it. Especially since she’s not old enough yet to express or maybe even notice If she’s feeling some symptoms.
      It’s so hard manage the soy allergy most of all. But combined with all this other stuff it’s virtually impossible. I pray she’ll outgrow at least some of these.
      May I ask your age? And how long you’ve had these allergies?

      Reply

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