Soy is everywhere. In our burgers and bread, mayonnaise and macaroni; it’s hard to escape. For years, we ate soy religiously and cried blasphemy when critics said it would mess up our hormones because we didn’t see any untoward effect. We loved the taste and found it to be a convenient and delicious alternative to meat. As our diet moved towards more whole foods, we stopped purchasing processed soy products in favor of tempeh and tofu. But the deeper I delved into hormonal health, the quicker I realized that I needed to quit soy completely. Little did I know then, quitting soy was going to be harder for me than quitting meat.
From the book Woman Code, I had to confront a troublesome truth. The root of most reproductive health challenges facing so many women is undoubtedly estrogen dominance. From our conventional produce, cleaning supplies, personal care products, plastic containers, etc., endocrine disrupting chemicals incline our bodies to overproduce estrogen and adding phytoestrogen from soy products makes it no better. I didn’t have the more obvious conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, or fibroids, but on a very subtle level, I noticed symptoms of excess estrogen and decided to see what would happen if I quit soy totally.
Since becoming vegetarian in 2002 and then vegan in 2004, I no longer experienced heavy bleeding or cramping during my menstrual cycles but successive miscarriages after the birth of Z bothered me and later revealed cystic ovaries. Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), I eventually gave birth to Moulay and breastfed him for two years but still had stubborn belly fat that I suspected was due to estrogen overload.
When I totally quit soy for an entire month, I lost a noticeable amount of belly fat and was no longer mistaken for pregnant. I still had some bloating in the weeks leading up to menstruation and learned from a FLO Living webinar that magnesium deficiency in the follicular cycle could have been the culprit, so I started a magnesium supplement and have seen great results. Now, with those two factors out of my way, the rest is up to my self-care, food choices and activity levels.
If you’re also trying to give up soy, note that there are a growing number of soy-free options on the market. We have a great selection of non-dairy milks here in Muscat and new products hit the shelves regularly. Here are some of my meal planning essentials:
- A variety of beans
- Raw nuts for sauces like cashew cream and almond sauce
- Sprouted legumes
- Soy-free Products: VegLife and Field Roast slices and sausages, Daiya cheese, Vegenaise
- Chickpea Pasta