If you have any additional suggestions, advice, or resources, please feel free to contribute!
(Please note, I am not being compensated by any of these sites or companies to list them here. This is simply a list I have compiled of a variety of resources I have found helpful in the past or think may be helpful to others. As such, I am not responsible for the content of these sites nor do I share all the opinions or beliefs expressed on them.)
- Determine if you actually have an allergy, to corn or otherwise and work from there
- This is an important first step in treating any symptoms you may have related to food intolerances or allergies. Before determining I had any issues with food I had terrible symptoms for many months, and more mild symptoms for a lifetime. Seeing a naturopath and going on an elimination diet were what helped me identify the foods I cannot consume. I also had some blood allergy tests ran, although they were ultimately expensive and unhelpful.
- Only you know how you feel after eating certain foods. Trust your body to tell you when something is not right and make sure to listen. One of the most important things I have learned through my experiences with food allergies is to listen to my body and give it what it needs. This is certainly not an easy feat, but one that has led me to a level of health I have never before experienced.
- Make sure to treat and identify any other health conditions you have related to your allergies or intolerances. When I first learned that I likely had issues with certain foods I also had vitamin deficiencies, severe back pain, digestive issues, migraines, dizziness, insomnia, lightheadedness, lots of inflammation, and many other symptoms. While many of these issues resolved as I stopped eating the foods harming my body, some of them needed alternative treatments. Getting the offending food out of your diet is certainly an important step, but so is treating any other health concerns you may have.
- Online resources
- Corn Allergens, a website with information one woman has put together about her corn allergy and the things she has needed to avoid.
- Foods containing corn, this long list demonstrates there are a lot of things that can be derived from corn or contain corn. The first site I listed contains and even larger list of ingredients that can contain corn. As I'm sure you can see, and as you have probably experienced if you also have an allergy to corn, there is an absurd number of ingredients that involve corn.
- There is quite a lacking of resources for those of us with corn allergies. Here's the wikipedia page on corn allergies. Hmm, not that helpful. So, here are some of my personal tips for avoiding corn.
- Read every single label, and read it every single time. There have been a couple times when I have bought a product that I have used before and looked more closely at it once getting it home, only to realize the ingredients have changed. So make sure you know what's in that box you just bought!
- If you aren't sure, then skip it. For the longest time I wasn't sure what xanthan gum was but still bought products that contained it. Little did I know, this is something that can contain corn. I learned this the hard way after reacting to some products and now know to avoid it.
- Make sure to repeat the fact that you have a corn allergy to your waiter or waitress multiple times, to make sure they know. If they don't seem to really know what's in the food they are telling you is safe for you to eat, then don't eat it. It's much safer to stick with the salad with no dressing than the risk having a reaction.
- I learned this through a terrible experience where "fresh pressed strawberry lemonade" was in fact Tropicana lemonade with some strawberries in it. To this day this remains the worst reaction I have ever had, and is not something I would wish on anyone. When I asked the waitress about it, I have a feeling she wasn't so sure, but I went with it anyway...a huge mistake.
- Keep spare food in your car, purse, backpack, etc. While you run the risk of being that crazy woman/man that's always pulling snack bars and almonds out of your pockets, at least you can leave the house knowing you have something to eat when all else fails.
- Don't forget about non-food products. While not everyone may be as sensitive to these products as I am, anything I put on my body for a long enough time that has the wrong ingredients can really mess with me. These ingredients can be harder to identify since not all products will actually list them. Find the products that do and investigate. Many toothpastes can contain sweeteners, and we all know what it's likely to be!
- To share another personal experience, I was taking this pain medication for a while when my Dad noticed that every time I took it I would develop a migraine, even when I hadn't had one initially. After investigating the ingredients (typed in small print on the label of the bottle), it sure enough contained corn starch! Most common cough, cold, and over the counter medications I have found contain corn as well.
- Breathing corn may also be a problem. I discovered this after developing a migraine while visiting a corn maze with my friends. While this reaction was much less severe than the others I have had, it nonetheless affected me. Basically, any route for corn to get into your body can have an effect.
- Learn to say no and be direct. Something else I have learned through dealing with my corn allergy is how to make it clear what I need and politely turn down anything that may be an issue. While it can be hard to refuse something, especially when a host has graciously prepared it just for you, not doing so can have long reaching and very negative effects. It may feel more socially acceptable or polite to just eat something in that moment, but all the hurt and health consequences that come after are not worth it. Additionally, most of the time in those situations the person offering the offending food is concerned about your welfare and does not want to provide you with a meal that will hurt you.
- It is also important, and very helpful, to be direct and precise about what you can and cannot eat. I will often say something along the lines of "So this doesn't contain any corn? No corn starch, oil, syrup, or anything coming from corn?" to a waiter or waitress, just to make sure that they have thought about all the different ways corn could end up in my food.
- Finally, accept that you cannot control everything, or that at the very least it is near impossible to do so. Every once in a while I will get an unexplained symptom like a headache, ears that are hotter than normal, a slightly faster heart rate, or a general feeling of sluggishness. These are all symptoms I get when I react to corn. However, it is not always possible to hunt down where these symptoms are stemming from and attempting to do so can potentially cause more harm than good, for example if it adds an overwhelming amount of stress to your life. Sometimes I experience these symptoms because I am sleep deprived and over stressed, sometimes there may have been a trace amount of contamination in something I ordered at a restaurant, and sometimes I have no idea where these symptoms could be coming from. As someone with other food allergies and multiple migraine triggers, maybe these symptoms are coming from something completely unrelated to corn. Wherever the source, in situations like this it is very difficult to find it.
- I do not say this to be defeatist or to suggest that you shouldn't try to remove as much corn from your life as possible. However, sometimes the best one can do is to manage the symptoms and keep an eye out for patterns that may emerge. When I start noticing a recurring symptom over a number of days or one that happens frequently over a few weeks, I will start to track what I'm eating and look for possible reactions. The bottom line is we can only do the best we can and while sometimes this means not feeling our best, we can take it as a learning experience and know better next time.
- Some products I have come across touting the "corn-free" label
In addition to a corn allergy, I am also gluten intolerant and find bananas and citrus fruits to be migraine triggers. However, I think that these issues are much more easily handled compared to corn allergies. There are also many more resources available addressing these problems, especially regarding the avoidance of gluten. Because of this I will not likely create separate pages addressing these issues, but if you have any questions regarding them, please feel free to ask below!
Also, do you have an allergy or sensitivity to corn? If so, do you have any tips for managing it, perhaps some that are different than my own? I would love to hear from you!