Sensitive to Soy
Eva La Rue uncovers the link between her diet and her health.
With her exotic good looks, natural charisma and friendly smile, it’s easy to see that actress Eva La Rue feels vibrant and healthy. A regular on the hit TV drama CSI: Miami, La Rue stars as savvy, tenacious DNA specialist Natalia Boa Vista. She formerly played a daytime darling on All My Children. Recently, the 42-year-old mother lost 18 pounds with regular exercise and sensible eating and she says she’s now determined to stay fit.
During her downtime, the California-born actress is an avid reader of health books. Four years ago, she picked up Eat Right 4 Your Type, filed it away and then reread it when her 7-year-old daughter, Kaya, developed unsightly and uncomfortable skin rashes. At the same time, La Rue was noticing her own gastrointestinal issues. Here, she tells Living Without how, like her investigative TV character, she uncovered the culprit behind her daughter’s ailment and her own.
LW Congratulations on looking fabulous and losing 18 pounds. How did you do it?
La Rue Last November, I began eating five small meals a day—a lot of fresh vegetables and protein. I also added some free weight work to my regular Pilates and yoga sessions. My background is in dancing so I’ve always danced but I recently started taking Argentine tango classes once a week. I’m loving that. It’s fun and cardio at the same time.
You’re a working mom with a hectic schedule. How do you have time for all this?
So often we’re busy in our daily lives with our kids and we think we don’t have time to fit in a workout. But emotionally, it helps you immensely. When I started going to the gym, I realized I felt so much more relaxed when I got home, so I just make the time for it.
What got you interested in diet and food issues?
Years ago, I read Eat Right 4 Your Type and thought it was an interesting book. Its description of foods that are toxic for B blood types seemed accurate to me. I’m a B blood type and so is my daughter Kaya and supposedly we shouldn’t eat soy. I would go to a sushi restaurant and order fresh tuna with soy sauce and I’d gain weight overnight and have severe bloating. It began to make sense that the things I was eating might be making me feel yucky and really gaseous.
Then Kaya developed two separate rashes that were horrible and would not go away. The dermatologist said the worst one was viral and that maybe it would clear up once she got older. This rash was weird and just creepy. She had big, white bumps all over her chest and back that looked like whiteheads. Each bump had a core, which I had to pull out. Of course, it was very painful and she wouldn’t let me get anywhere near them. We put all kinds of prescription ointments on them but nothing helped.
What about her other rash?
The second rash looked like eczema and it was all over her upper legs. This one was uncomfortable and crazy itchy all the time. There were times she’d scratch so much that her legs were bloody. It was terrible! We battled these skin conditions for two years, trying every cortisone cream and ointment around and being really diligent. Then I remembered that this book claimed that soy was toxic for B blood types. I wondered if Kaya’s little body just couldn’t handle soy, so I stopped giving it to her.
And what happened?
Once I removed the soy from her diet, both rashes vanished like magic and she hasn’t had a single rash or bump since.
How long did it take for them to disappear?
Three weeks and they were gone.
Did she eat a lot of soy?
She was eating some sort of soy product at least every other day.
Why that much?
I was trying to keep her healthy by giving her more of a vegetarian diet. Rather than feeding her chicken and beef, I substituted soy chicken tenders, soy hot dogs and soy garden burgers.
Soy is a solid alternative food for some. What made you pinpoint soy instead of other foods?
I honed in on soy because that was the food she seemed to be eating the most. And I knew I had problems with soy— bloating and weight gain. That made me suspect that Kaya might be sensitive to it, too. So I put it all together. Like mother, like daughter.
Tell us about your weight gain and soy.
For me, the weight gain is immediate. Whenever I eat anything with soy in it, I know that I will gain three to five pounds literally overnight. I am severely bloated the next day and just feel sluggish.
Does Kaya have any of the gastrointestinal problems with soy that you do?
No, she doesn’t seem to. I get really bloated and gassy but she does not.
Do either you or Kaya have any other food issues?
I have a pretty intense reaction to olive trees. I sneeze like crazy whenever I’m around them. I also notice that the more wheat I consume, the harder it is for me to lose weight. I love goat cheese and I eat yogurt and frozen yogurt all the time, but lately I’ve noticed that I’m developing issues with certain milk products. If I eat real ice cream, it’s almost as if I can look at my watch and count it down. Within five minutes, it will go through me. This just started happening so I don’t eat real ice cream anymore. It’s just not worth the discomfort.
Have you ever thought that you and Kaya should be evaluated for food allergies?
Yes. We should get tested to have a more definitive answer.
Once you eliminated soy, did you go back to the dermatologist and say, “Hey, this is what I think is causing the problems”?
No. I just chalked it up. He is so into Western medicine that I don’t think he ever would have gone in this direction. Frankly, I shocked myself that I didn’t put two and two together and figure out this soy issue earlier. It seems like we’re so trained to go to the doctor and have a pill or ointment prescribed, that it doesn’t occur to us that a problem might be caused or aggravated by environment or by what we’re eating and taking into our bodies.
Do any other family members have food allergies or sensitivities?
Sadly and tragically, my sister is allergic to chocolate [laughs]. Ever since she hit 25, she breaks out into a hive-type rash within 15 minutes of eating it.
Has it been difficult for you to make dietary changes for Kaya?
There’s always that struggle for a busy, on-the-go mom between grabbing fast food and eating wholesome, healthy meals that you prepare yourself. Those little packages of soy-containing products are quick, easy and microwavable so I miss that convenience. I have to be diligent to make sure there isn’t soy in any item I give Kaya. No more soy dogs! Turkey and chicken dogs are okay. I also make certain the chicken and beef she eats is organic and doesn’t contain hormones or antibiotics.
Anything you wish you’d done differently?
If I had known, I would never have given Kaya any soy at all. I sometimes wonder about toxic buildup and how allergies might compromise the immune system, making us more prone to illness. Kaya was getting a lot of colds at the time.
What advice would you give other moms about dietary issues?
I know many people say that the book Eat Right 4 Your Type has big holes in it and doesn’t make sense. But I would tell moms to pick it up, check out their children’s blood type, and see if their kids are eating something they shouldn’t. Mothers have to do their own homework and this could be just one of many reference sources. It can’t hurt. LW