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About Rena

Photo Credit: Daniel Tjioe

Photo Credit: Daniel Tjioe

A year ago, I would have told you I ate somewhat healthy. As a mother and teacher, I need to keep my energy up. I avoided sugar as much as possible whenever I needed to be “on” and I generally made good choices when eating out. I ate whole grains whenever possible but I favored a higher-protein diet. I knew about vitamins, but I just wasn’t disciplined enough to take them. Besides, my life was full of stress — chronic stress — for the 3 years prior, and really I was just keeping my head above the water and doing the best I could to be healthy.

Early in 2011, I developed itchy irritated skin on primarily my face and occasionally my scalp, back, and legs. No matter what I did, the itchiness persisted…in fact, it got worse as my stress reached an all time high during my unwanted divorce last year.

After much experimenting and eliminating foods from my diet, I’ve determined that soy, milk products, and stress exacerbate my skin issues. Now I’m on a quest to find balance with my diet, skin care products, and exercise, while building up my depleted immune system. Having success at this is quite a challenge and takes great discipline and self control! I’ve learned mostly from other websites, friends, reading numerous ingredients and happy accidents, and I hope to learn more from you. Let’s encourage each other in our daunting (yet possible) task of living a soy and milk-free life!

Update June 15, 2014: My skin problems are completely gone! It began with drastically cutting soy and milk products from my diet, and replacing the soy-filled makeup and skincare products with soy-free products. It helped tremendously that I reduced the stress in my life. While I still mostly avoid foods that contained soy and milk, I may have them in small amounts without any issue. I was never officially diagnosed with an “allergy” to these ingredients – but I definitely had a sensitivity to these foods because the physical reaction to these foods was instantaneous and debilitating. I don’t post as often because I feel great now. However, I’m keeping this blog active for all those starting a journey much like mine and need a little help. May you find wellness! ❤

By the way, this blog ignited a passion for photography over two years ago. I’ve been shooting like crazy. Perhaps you’d like to see my work? www.renapetrellophotography.com

29 responses »

  1. Thank you for your blog. 3 years ago I was diagnosed with many food allergies… topping the list was Gluten, MILK, soy, eggs and many others. I had Leaky gut. I have healed a lot cutting these items from my diet and can tell you when they are hidden in there. I loved reading your blog today and knowing that I am not the only one that gets the look, the sighs, the attitude like really lady… When you find a way to eliminate all stress.. let us know lol

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this great blog. I have only recently learned that I am allergic to soy applied topically. I had already known I was allergic to eating it. Then add on a little lactose intolerance and bam, no one wants to eat with me any more. 😉
    I had just emailed Tarte cosmetics to see if anything they carry is soy-free. They responded very quickly with a partial list. While not drug store cheap, I find it’s less than MAC. Now this is only a partial list as they are working to make a complete list.

    gifted(tm) Amazonian clay smart mascara
    lights, camera, lashes(tm) 4-in-1 mascara
    lights, camera, flashes(tm) statement mascara lights, camera, splashes(tm) 4-in-1 mascara

    emphasEYES(tm) high definition eye pencil
    triple black Egyptian kohl precision longwear eyeliner Amazonian clay waterproof liner modernEYES waterproof creaseless shadow/liner duo multiplEYE(tm) lash enhancing liquid liner skinny smolderEYES(tm) Amazonian clay waterproof liner smolderEYES(tm) Amazonian clay waterproof liner

    All of our eye shadows and pressed powders

    LipSurgence(tm) lip shine
    LipSurgence(tm) matte lip tint
    24/7 natural lip sheer with SPF 15
    Amazonian clay universal lip liner
    maracuja divine shine lip gloss
    maracuja lip exfoliant
    Amazonian butter lipstick trio
    creamy lipstick trio

    Reply
  3. We would love to share with you our Soy free/BPA free, organic skincare line called Essential Indulgence. Free samples are available! Let us know if we can send you any samples.

    Reply
  4. Hello Rena,

    I’ve been allergic to soy, dairy, tomatoes, coffee, mango, beer and probably more for over nine years. My allergist thought I had congestive heart failure because I had swollen legs and feet and coughed during the night, and more. I finally found a new allergist and learned the awful truth. I have done what you are doing, making lists of foods I can eat, in both stores and restaurants. I have my “Bible” bsed on my research into all the products I had been using and then new products to switch to. I might even have one tip for you, Rena. Regarding PAM, the one for Grilling doesn’t contain soy. They switched to soy a few years ago but found that it flamed up on grills, so switched back to canola and cottonseed oils. I just found your blog today while looking for Super E Vitamin E moisturizing cream made by Windmill Health Products. Now that I’ve listened to your video, I’m now ready to find out if it’s a soy-based product.
    Thanks so much for being out there. I never thought to go looking for a blog nine years ago. I have made my own way, like you. It’s now a lifestyle, not a sentence to being deprived of all the foods I enjoyed so much.
    Carolyn

    Reply
  5. Thank u so much for writing this blog!!! I recently found out I am allergic to soy (most severe) almonds, milk, garlic n salmon so my diet has been quite stressful! I’m super excited to follow ur blog n take in all the info 🙂 thank u so much!

    Reply
  6. So happy to read your blog. I just had my gallbladder removed two weeks ago and am quickly figuring out I have a soy (and probably dairy and almond) allergy. I kept going into mild anaphylactic shock (all the symptoms without throat closing). The doctors are flummoxed so I am trying to see an allergist to confirm. Your blog has been so helpful to find products and meals that don’t have soy! Just yesterday I switched my shampoo and face products.

    I wanted to find out what you use for a probiotic. I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t have either dairy or soy and still need to rebuild my guts.

    I also live in CA so will be watching your restaurant escapades closely.

    Reply
    • Hi Annieamanda! I’m so glad you’ve found my blog helpful. It’s great that you’ve discovered what you’re allergic to so quickly. I hope you’ve been able to eradicate your allergic reactions.

      I use So Delicious brand coconut milk yogurt (soy and dairy free) for my probiotic. It has added cultures and comes in great flavors.

      Best wishes to you on your journey back to health! –Rena

      Reply
  7. Thank you so much for this blog. I have so many allergies, corn, penuts, beef, nuts, seafood, shellfish, and lately soy, agggh. finding this has been a gift. thank you so much for all you hard work, and for passing it on. many blessing to you

    Reply
  8. Hi! What a great blog! My daughter is allergic to soy, and my husband is allergic to soy, gluten, egg, nuts, seeds and more. I’m over at https://www.facebook.com/subtractsoynow. Would love to connect. I didn’t know about in-n-out fries! Great news!

    Reply
  9. Hi Rena, I’m glad to have found your blog, my daughter has being diagnosed with dairy and soy intolerance she is only 14 months old, we are finding it hard on where and what she can eat. We are lucky that she hasn’t really got used to taste and flavorings of certain foods such as cheese, yoghurts. We are from the UK and finding places to feed her very hard and the blogs on McDonalds certainly opened my eyes. Keep on posting it’s certainly helping us.

    Reply
  10. Rena,

    Hi, Rena, we share the same name! How cool is that? I too have a stressful job, and I used to teach as well.

    I’m also glad I found your blog, because sometimes have sinus flare-ups.
    So, I’ve decided to avoid dairy and also soy to combat my pre-menapausal signs.
    Thanks for the soy-free vitiamin company brand names.
    I will be sure to look for them at the local Vitamin Shoppe.

    God Bless, and keep up the great work you’re doing!!

    Reply
  11. Hi Rena
    Thanks for the tips, I have an alley to vitamin E and 2 of my biggest challenges are finding lipstick and sunscreen. Thanks for the lipstick tip, but I’m still having a bit of trouble finding sunscreen, so far I found 2 neutragene products and umbrell has a pump spray, but that is it. Not sure if you’ve found any others.
    Thanks
    Shelley

    Reply
    • Hi Shelley! You’re most welcome 🙂 I found one sunscreen that is tocopherol-free by Coola (see my blog about a day at the spa, http://wp.me/p2frtk-37). I have not verified with the company that that means it’s also soy-free, although I didn’t have a skin reaction after using it. My friend uses Neutrogena “Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool” which also does not list a tocopherol ingredient. Again, I have not written the company to make sure this also means it is soy-free.Frankly, I don’t worry very often about wearing sunscreens since I usually stay out of the sun or wear physical blocks (hats, long sleeve shirts) when I need to be in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Best wishes!

      Reply
  12. I am SO glad to find your blog! I, personally, don’t have an allergy to soy or dairy, but I’m a determined breast feeding momma with a baby that’s sensitive to both. I’ve been working on eliminating both from my diet and it’s a whole new world for me! I LOVE that you have recipes and post about what’s safe to buy.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you found my blog. Like you, I also had to curb my diet while breast feeding. I did not think I was allergic. However, my son broke out into a red and bumpy rash on his neck, chest, and diaper area whenever I ingested milk products. I stopped breast feeding when he turned one, and promptly introduced milk back into my diet. Shortly afterward I started to experience my own allergic reactions/sensitivities to milk as well as soy. I’m not sure what caused it at such a late age, although I suspect it is due to chronic stress I was enduring for years combined with having a baby.

      Best wishes to you as you navigate through your new world!

      Reply
  13. We woudl love to mail you some samples of our Vegan common allergen free skincare. They are free from all parabens, soy, nut or gluten. Our website is ceelaskincare.com

    Reply
  14. Hello I just wanted to say thanks I too, have a soy and dairy allergy. As well as nuts, coconut, tuna, peas, cantalope…wait if I keep going I will run out of space lol. I have cut out lots of soy and dairy from my life but I never even thought about my makeup or face products. Sigh. I just got more depressed. But I’m not sure if you know this but in food if it has “natural flavorings” those too are dairy and soy proteins. They are added into almost everything so I have had no choice but I am going to have to start canning. I just can’t get my skin to clear up. One day I started wheezing out of the blue and six months later I was fully diagnosed (along with an Epi-pen). I just came across your website and I hope this will help me too. Good luck!

    Reply
  15. Hi! Our baby girl was diagnosed with a milk, soy and shellfish allergy about six months ago. We hear you about the steep and expensive learning curve! I’m excited to explore your blog, and we’ll be happy to share our resources as well. To start, Chocolate Covered Katie is a fantastic and healthy dessert bog, which is where I found a solution to making baby girls fruit tart for her second birthday this week! (it was what she requested for her birthday “cake”!)

    Reply
  16. I am thrilled to have found your blog. I have been allergic to soy and dairy my entire life but, while it was clear what my reaction to milk products was, I was in denial about the soy allergy because that reaction was more subtle. Until about six weeks ago, when I started using something my neurologist has recommended for my migraines (another life-long burden). A lovely capsule filled with soy oil, that after 3 days caused my skin to erupt into a rash that made me want to tear my skin off. The rash would not go away until I tracked down and eliminated every bit of soy in my life. The toll has been enormous and I had to give up a medication that was truly helping my migraines because it too was in a soy oil filled capsule. My overall health has taken a huge step back, and I am coming to terms with the loss of the soy tolerance that I once had. Therefore, finding your blog and all the research you have done has been amazing. Thank you!

    Reply
  17. nosoyrdairy4me

    I, too, have to avoid soy and milk. I’ve been soy- and dairy-free for two years, 3 months and a week. It has been HARD as I love(d) cheese and yogurt, and added soy protein to my baked goods, smoothies, etc. prior to allergy testing. I’m not allergic, but have food sensitivities to these (and beef, which was np since I haven’t eaten any beef since I was 19). I have found I cannot eat out at all. I’ll get coffee out, but nothing prepared on-site; too much “cross-contamination”.

    I’m grateful to find a blog of like-affected people! I am bookmarking it, and plan to contribute some of my culinary forays and grocery finds, if others are interested….

    Reply
  18. This blog is very helpful. Also, your tip about Vitamin E helped me out tremendously. I didn’t use it today as a topical oil and I am symptom free. We may be allergic to soy because we have been over exposed to it. Last night I learned that it is in some inks, perfumes, lotions, soaps, etc.

    Reply
  19. Hi Rena,

    I am so happy to find your blog. I recently went off dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. Soy and corn I am little flux about when eating out, but I eat without those ingredients at home. My doctor suggested I go on the elimination diet months ago after I had not been feeling well for a year or two. It’s amazing how linked our bodies are with food. I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for writing.

    Reply
    • Hi Kourtney! Good for you for figuring out all the foods that make you feel crummy. It’s so hard to avoid soy and corn in general, but even harder when eating out. I’ve scaled back on eating out significantly and the difference in how I feel is tremendous. Anyway, I hope we can encourage each other on our new food journey!

      Reply
  20. A great blog! I’m proud of your monumental effort to redirect your diet. And if you find a way to eliminate stress, PLEASE let us all know! 🙂

    Reply

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