On your quest to live healthier, you’ve decided to eliminate soy from your diet or, in our case, we had a child diagnosed with a soy allergy. That led to the decision to eliminate soy almost entirely from our diets. This should be pretty easy, right? No more soy sauce. Avoid soybeans. Don’t drink any more soy milk.
Check, check, and check.
But, wait. You’re looking at the nutrition label for one of your favorite foods and what do you see snuggled in the list of ingredients? Soy.
So you start checking the ingredients on everything. Soy! Soy! Soy! It seems that soy is in everything when you begin thoroughly checking labels. Including Oreo’s….
TIP: You can make your own that are soy free!
That’s when you realize that this whole soy-free deal may be harder than you thought. It’s in a LOT of different foods (especially in Asian cuisine), so it can be hard to avoid – both at home and while dining out. It’s especially hard to avoid if you have a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based diet.
I also have an alternative health group here.
I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. We’ve been there as a family and we know the path you’re about to embark on. Trust me, we donated a massive amount of goods from our house to the food bank when we embarked on this journey. I looked at my recipe collection and realized I had more than a few that I would need to tweak to make them “soy free.”
So I decided to sit down and tell you guys about my own research into avoiding soy by sharing a list of things that you may not know (or even suspect) contain soy. I wish I had a list like this when we were getting started. It sure would have made things a whole lot easier!
Foods that contain soy
When it comes to soy, the most obvious way to avoid it is to watch what we eat. The problem is that almost all the foods we eat (even ones that are marketed as being healthy or vegan) often contain soy. Here is a list of foods to either avoid altogether OR check the ingredients list carefully before buying. Some of them will be obvious. Others – not so much.
If you choose to feed your baby with formula, be sure to check the ingredients! There are three types of baby formula:
Cow milk protein-based formula– This is the most common type. It’s basically cow milk that has been changed so that it resembles human breast milk more closely.
Soy-based formula– Soy formula is a popular option for infant’s who have an allergic reaction or intolerance to cow milk.
Protein hydrolysate formula– This type of formula has proteins that smaller than those of the other two types. They are perfect for infants who have an adverse reaction to both cow milk and soy-based formulas. It is also an option for infants who have a protein allergy.
Bean curd is produced by taking dried soybeans, cooking them to get milk and then curdling it.
Revered by vegans around the world, tofu is actually made from pressed bean curd (see above).
Another health nut favorite, edamame sounds fancy. What is it, though? Soybeans in pods.
Do you love getting a nice steamy bowl of miso soup when you go to a Chinese restaurant? I’m sorry to break it to you, but you may want to switch soups. Miso is actually a sweet, flavor-packed paste made from fermented soybeans. It is often used to add flavor to soups, sauces, dips, marinades, dressings and main dishes.
Another vegetarian and vegan favorite, tempeh is used much like tofu, but has a more chewy texture. It is also made from fermented soybeans.
Used to flavor everything from meats and veggies to sauces and dips and even rice, teriyaki sauce contains soy sauce (along with ingredients like ginger, garlic, brown sugar, sesame seed oil, and green onions). While teriyaki sauce can be made without soy sauce, most stores sell the kind with soy sauce.
Things that may contain soy
Here are a few things that may contain soy. In these cases, you should pay careful attention to ingredients and allergen advisory labels:
- Artificial flavoring
- Asian cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc.)
- Baked goods and baking mixes
- Bouillon cubes
- Bulking agents
- Chicken broth
- Chicken (raw or cooked) processed with chicken broth
- Cosmetics, which is why I use SAFE cosmetics.
- Deli meats made with hydrolyzed soy protein
- Eggs (chicken feed often contains soy
- Energy bars or nutrition bars
- Gum arabic
- Guar gum
- Hamburger meat with soy protein fillers
- Hamburger buns made with added soy flour
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Imitation dairy foods
- Lip balm, hint…make your own with safe ingredients!
- Mixed tocopherols
- Natural flavoring
- Nutrition supplement
- Peanut butter and peanut butter substitutes
- Protein powders made soy protein powder
- Sauces, gravies, and soups
- Sausages and hot dogs made with soy protein fillers
- Vegetable broth
- Vegetable gum
- Vegetable oil
- Vegetable shortening
- Vegetable starch
- Vegetarian meat substitutes
- Vitamin E
How to read a label for soy
Although it would be great for our allergens to be the first things listed on the ingredients list, that’s not always the case. So take the extra minute to read every single ingredient. Also be sure to check under the ingredients list where companies also list advisory statements like “May contain soy” or “Made in a facility with soy”, “produced on shared equipment with soy,” or “produced in a facility that also processes soy.”
Fortunately, the FDA requires companies to list any of the following “Top 8” allergens if they are present in food since they account for at least 90% of all food allergies in the United States.
Top 8 Food Allergens
- Crustacean Shellfish
- Tree Nuts
However, it must be pointed out that the FDA does NOT require companies who use soy oil or soy lecithin to say so on their label; presumably because studies have been inconclusive about whether they contain enough soy protein to be problematic. With that being said, here are some of the other words that may be used in the place of soy.
- Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
- Mono and diglycerides
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
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Also …I have an air fryer group too! So don’t miss that!