Where Do You Start?
Most people with a corn allergy have a real challenge on their hands. Corn products are in literally thousands of foods on the market. Most all processed foods have corn syrup or corn starch. If not, many contain dextrins, maltodextrins, and other chemicals that contain corn. If you have been diagnosed with a corn allergy or intolerance, or feel that you are suffering from one, you need to understand that you will have to do a lot of research on your own. You’ll need to call companies to ask about ingredients, and still be wary that corn could be hidden in the food. Even companies who make certain products can be unaware of what is in a supplier’s product, making even foods that appear to be safe a problem. Fortunately, it is possible to eat well with a corn allergy. You just have to be willing to find out where the hidden corn can be found, and how to replace it.
Corn Syrup and Corn Starch
Eliminating corn from your diet is a lot easier said than done. You’ll need to read every label before buying anything at the grocery store. Begin looking at all processed foods as a possible source of corn. Most baked goods contain corn syrup or corn starch. Corn syrup can be found in unlikely items, like most salad dressings, ketchup, cookies, pies, puddings, frostings, and even fruit juices. Corn starch is in many gravies, cereals, baked goods, and pizza mixes. You’ll even find corn starch in baking powder, flavorings, and confectioner’s sugar. Most ice creams, sweetened yogurts, and popsicles contain high fructose corn syrup. Hard candies, jello, cereals, candy bars, and nearly all soda pops contain corn syrup. You will need to read all labels to be sure you are avoiding corn syrup and corn starch in all foods.
Corn derivatives include any food product or chemical that has originated from corn. You’ll find corn derivatives in many unlikely places. For example, iodized salt contains dextrin, which is a corn derivative. Use all natural sea salt. This means, when you see a product with "salt" as an ingredient, it could contain corn. Maltodextrin, another derivative can be found in many different snack foods, like flavored potato chips. Most fried foods contain corn oil, to which you may or may not react. Since corn oil doesn’t contain the protein that is known to cause corn allergies, some people don’t avoid it. Others seem to react to corn oil, and do avoid it.
Corn can come in some tricky forms. Decaffeinated coffees and any tea bag can have corn derivatives. Even regular coffee beans can be polished with corn starch. If you have trouble with coffee, this could be the reason. Even fresh fruits and vegetables can be waxed with substances that contain corn products. If you have a corn allergy and are reacting, despite cutting nearly all processed foods out of your diet, you may need to consider the fruits and vegetables you are eating. Even organic produce can be gassed with a corn derivative. Many people with corn allergies opt for locally grown produce. I would suggest canning your own fruits and vegetables if you react to store bought produce.
In addition to avoiding foods with corn, don’t forget to stay away from non-food corn containing products. Laundry starches made from corn can cause a reaction to allergic people who try on clothes before they are washed. Be sure not to wear newly purchased clothing before it is washed. Stay away from Bounce Fabric Softener, which has corn derivatives. Check all labels of body washes, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, and makeup. Many of these products contain corn. Most hand sanitizers are made from ethyl alcohol, which is a corn product. Be sure to also check the ingredients of any medications and vitamins, since most contain corn starch.
If you follow these guidelines, you will be on track to getting the corn out of your diet. It’s difficult but not impossible. Once you find great corn free products, use these foods to make up your grocery list. Don’t stop checking those labels, though. Any product can change formulations at any time.
If you are avoiding all forms of corn and corn derivatives, I would suggest that you check out this list of corn allergens.