Yes, it is possible to have most (if not all) of the typical Thanksgiving foods… and to have them be completely soy-free. The downside is that without access to the holiday sales and prepared items, your Thanksgiving meal is going to cost more money and take more time and work to get on the table. However, as long as you are willing to do mostly from-scratch preparation and a lot of conscientious label reading, you CAN come up with soy-free Thanksgiving alternatives. I do this every year for Thanksgiving and for any other special event. I wish I could tell you that after a while it gets easier, but they keep putting soy in more and more foods, so there is always something new to avoid.
Living with a Soy Allergy
Four years ago Dianne Gregg, the author of The Hidden Dangers of Soy, went into anaphylactic shock in an emergency room. Doctors stabilized her condition but could not find the reason it had happened, even after many examinations and tests. Their tentative diagnosis was food poisoning. The author felt that food poisoning was not the answer, but she could not figure out what had gone wrong either.
Almost every day I receive a message from someone who has just been diagnosed with a soy allergy… or from someone whose child has just been diagnosed with a soy allergy. These messages usually have a common theme… for these people, eating almost anything has become a scary unknown… and especially so if their allergic reaction is severe. Unfortunately, because soy is in so much of our food and masquerades under so many different names, it is extremely difficult to avoid. However, it CAN be done. Here are some ideas that I hope will help.
I’m sure many of you with allergies have experienced the unpleasant reality of discovering that a product you have eaten for years and known to be allergen free (in my case, free of soy) suddenly begins to provoke an allergic reaction every time you eat it. This has been happening to me recently when I cook with several dried herbs and spices.
Accidental ingestion of, or exposure to, soy can result in an anaphylactic reaction that could kill me, so obviously I think of soy and all its derivatives the way most people think of poison, and as something I really, really need to avoid. And that isn’t as easy as it sounds, because soy is EVERYWHERE. Especially in processed foods… sixty to seventy percent of processed foods contain some form of soy, and even a label reader like me will find it almost impossible to keep up with all of the different names for the many forms of soy.
I think the most discouraging allergic reactions are the ones that seem to come out of nowhere… those times when you KNOW you haven’t ingested the allergen and yet the seriousness of your reaction proves you have. For me, the explanation is usually allergen cross contamination I didn’t know about. Recently I have noticed that many natural foods… including many previously “safe” foods that I have been buying for years… are now including a possible cross contamination warning on their label. As the customer service representative at one major manufacturer told me, the “possible” part of the warning is somewhat misleading… if an allergen is listed as a possible contaminant on the label, it is almost certainly in the product, albeit in small amounts. Anyone with a severe or life-threatening allergy will undoubtedly choose to avoid the product rather than test out the accuracy of the statement! I’m grateful when manufacturers give me that choice.
If you are allergic to soy, you have probably discovered the hard way that foods containing thiamine mononitrate can cause some pretty severe allergic reactions. To someone who becomes frighteningly ill each time one of these foods is ingested, it’s frustrating that much of the allergy information out there is insisting that thiamine mononitrate is now synthetically produced and that soy exposure from thiamine mononitrate is no longer an issue.
Kaayla T. Daniel is a clinical nutritionist with a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies. She is a popular speaker on the subjects of nutrition and longevity and she advises clients on a wide range of nutritional health issues. The subtitle of this book, The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, describes its purpose perfectly… to counter the exaggerated health claims about soy and soy products and to provide a more balanced view based on facts and science.
Obviously a soy allergy is nothing to fool around with. I have a huge problem with the recipe sites and cooking shows that advise sneaking tofu or other soy products into foods for their supposed nutritional value… this is just stupid… and this silly deception could lead to an emergency medical situation or even death to an allergic person. PLEASE don’t ever serve ANYONE anything containing soy without first making sure that the person eating it knows that they will be eating soy. Another point I would like to dispute is the often repeated advice that soy oil is safe for someone with a soy allergy because “most of the protein has been removed”. For a person with a soy allergy, this is dangerous nonsense… any exposure to soy in any form should be avoided.