Friday, July 11, 2014

And then there was soy.

When I got my celiac diagnosis about a month ago, part of me was excited because I thought I had an answer to why I’d been feeling so sick for months. I suddenly “knew” that all my sickness had been due to hidden gluten in my diet, not some other food item as I had been worried.

I dramatically increased my efforts at avoiding hidden gluten and cross-contamination, and meanwhile I rushed out to the store and filled my cart with gluten-free pretzels, gluten-free granola bars, and other similar snacks, as a way of making myself feeling better about my diagnosis.

The extreme fatigue I’d been experiencing started to dissipate. I stopped feeling nauseous for the first time in months. But to my shock, in the days following my diagnosis and my gluten-free shopping trips, my other GI symptoms weren’t any better. In fact, they almost seemed worse. Tons of cramping and abdominal pain among other symptoms.

Now, I had had issues with soy in the past, and I had been wondering if I had soy issues for months, but for some reason I decided to erase these experiences from my memory. Probably two years ago I switched to using coconut aminos instead of gluten-free soy sauce because the gluten-free soy sauce made me as sick as regular (gluten-filled) soy sauce. Also, gluten-free pretzels had made me very sick in the past. But with my new diagnosis, I convinced myself that those pretzels must not have been certified gluten-free (meeting a very low threshold for gluten) and so must have contained trace gluten (which clearly made me sick), and so as long as I stuck with certified gluten-free pretzels I should be fine. Right?


The gluten-free pretzels knocked me out. I lived on the toilet for 24 hours following the two times I ate them and then I gave them away to a fellow celiac friend.

I did all kinds of reading and studying the foods I ate. I hoped it was something else. Maybe it was just GMO soy. Maybe the pretzels contained something else. But all my reading led to one consensus: soy did not settle well with me. At all. I was eating products with non-GMO soy that were certified gluten-free and I was still sick. Even products containing soy lecithin, which supposedly shouldn’t bother “most” people with soy issues, left my intestines rumbling. I just couldn’t believe it. But as someone told me yesterday, I should know by now that I am not “most” people, and so I should believe it. Ugh.

I didn’t want to admit that soy was an issue, because it meant that I couldn’t eat about 75% of the gluten-free items I’d filled my pantry with. I was so frustrated. But then Dave told me (for the millionth time) that I really needed to get my health back and go as extreme as that required. I knew he was right. So, alas, I listened to his advice finally, and I said adios to the soy.

The GI problems stopped afterward. It really was nice. And now, I’m starting to figure my body out. I’m starting to notice that when I ingest soy (as I’ve accidentally done since giving it up), it’s a short-lived issue. I get really sick with cramping and bloating, then it exits my body, and I’m done. No fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depression, or short-temperedness. Within 24 hours it’s usually over. (This is in contrast to gluten which WIPES ME OUT. But that’s a long post for another day.)

There’s always the possibility that I react so strongly to soy because my intestine is damaged from gluten and therefore has problems digesting the soy. This does happen to celiacs. More frequently it’s lactose intolerance that is the issue, but other intolerances can happen as well. So there’s always the slight chance that if I stay super duper gluten-free for a long time, and my intestine heals, then I may be able to eat some soy again. But I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I should adapt a soy-free lifestyle and assume it’s for the long haul. Because such is my body and life.

Goodbye soy. And hopefully, hello health.


  1. Erin @ Two Story CottageJuly 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Soy is tough! Yuck! I'm glad you are feeling better though. Reid can't have soy but he can have soy lecithin and soybean oil and it doesn't bother him. Maybe once your intestines are healed, you can graduate to that level. :) I'm in a FB group online for people that have to do multiple allergy elimination (mostly top 8) so I will be on the lookout for any yummy products mentioned since you are in that boat now.

    I can email you my soy cheat sheet just in case it helps. You have to watch "natural flavor" which is in a lot of stuff. However, I can usually tell now if it will be an issue. For example, natural flavor in Skittles is not an issue but natural flavor in pretzels or lunch meat might be a problem. There is a lot of trial and error there. We used to avoid all natural flavor but then realized he was missing out on a lot of potential foods just because the source of the natural flavor wasn't named. Fyi, Trader Joe's is good about sourcing their natural flavor.

  2. Thank you, I appreciate it!! Fortunately I have some apps that are great at calling out when a product may have soy in it. (And gluten.) I didn't know about the vegetable broth, or the vegetable protein that your list said...ugh.

    Do let me know if you see any good recipes. :)