Living With a Soy Allergy

If all you needed to do for a soy allergy was skip the soy sauce and tofu, life would be a breeze! But soybeans are a big part of processed foods, too.

Keep this cheat sheet handy to protect yourself or your child from an allergic reaction.

Soy Foods to Stay Away From

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Soy sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Tofu

Foods That May Contain Soy

  • Baked goods (breads, cookies, and crackers)
  • Canned broth and soup
  • Canned tuna and meat
  • Cereals
  • High-protein energy bars and snacks
  • Infant formula
  • Low-fat peanut butter
  • Processed meats, like deli meats
  • Vegetable oil
  • Worcestershire sauce

Other Names That May Mean Soy Ingredients

  • Glycine max
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Mono-diglyceride
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

3 Ways to Play It Safe

Always read labels. In the U.S., "soy" must be listed on the label if it’s in a food.

Be careful about eating at Asian restaurants. Even if you order a soy-free dish, you could still be exposed because the ingredient is used so often in Asian cooking. A cook might use the same utensil on soy and non-soy dishes. Explain that you need to be sure your food doesn’t touch soy in any way.

Ask your doctor about soy oil and lecithin. Most people with soy allergies can handle highly refined soy oil. The same goes for soy lecithin, which is often used in chocolate candy, peanut butter, and margarine. Avoid cold-pressed, expelled or extruded soy oil—sometimes called gourmet oils. These ingredients are different and are not safe to eat if allergic to soy. Your doctor or an allergist can help you figure out which are OK for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on November 17, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Soy Allergy."

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network: "Soy."

Food Allergy Initiative: "Soy Allergy."

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