By Christy, Contributing Writer
I was in shock. The list of a dozen foods the allergist said to eliminate from my daughter’s diet was in complete opposition to my simple “everything in moderation” philosophy.
Nevertheless,we were willing to do anything for our girl, so goodbye moderation, hello elimination!
Because we were eating some processed foods, the hardest aspect was going corn free. Eliminating or reducing corn in the diet involves more than avoiding corn as a vegetable on your dinner plate. Corn is in everything, and I’m only slightly exaggerating. Still, it does not always have to be as difficult as this shell-shocked mama initially thought.
Let’s see what you can eat when corn is a dietary concern.
For the allergic:
If you suffer from a corn allergy, you do not necessarily have to eliminate all corn. Most corn allergies are to the corn protein. Therefore, according to our nutritionists, clean corn oil, cornstarch, and similar corn byproducts will probably not affect you.
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If the allergy is to the entire corn kernel, you will need to avoid all corn-related products, including packaging and personal care products. (Discuss this with a knowledgeable specialist or try a temporary elimination to see how your body reacts.)
For those with digestive concerns:
The outer casing of the corn is not easily digested, so those with inflammatory bowel issues often need to eliminate abrasive corn products temporarily. Staying away from corn, popcorn, and cornmeal products may be about as far as you need to go during an intestinal flare-up. (Check with your gastroenterologist regarding your personal issues.)
If you are on GAPS or a similar healing diet, you will need to eliminate all corn byproducts. Yup, all of ’em. We did, and, trust me, you will survive this!
For those concerned with genetically modified food:
Over 80% of the corn products in America are genetically modified. There are currently no laws requiring producers to label their products as GMO, so seek out labels that say GMO-free or non-GMO if you are concerned. Organic products, while still at risk for cross-contamination, are generally safe, so eat hearty!
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If you feel it is necessary to completely eradicate corn from your diet, become a vigilant label reader. Obviously, anything with corn syrup, corn oil, corn starch, cornmeal, grits, maize, and similar corn products should be avoided. Less conspicuous are products such as maltodextrin, citric acid, MSG, baking powder, and natural flavors, which may or may not contain or be derived from corn. Because there is no way of knowing what the additives are made of, you will have to eliminate them entirely.
So…what’s left to eat?
If you cook as much of your food from scratch as possible, you will naturally avoid most corn byproducts. Seriously, who stocks maltodextrin and “natural flavors” in the pantry?
Replace corn products with similar items. Use arrowroot powder or potato starch instead of cornstarch. Opt for honey or maple syrup instead of corn syrup.
While lending a slightly different flavor, freshly ground wheat often gives the same homey texture that cornmeal provides. Coconut and olive oils are healthier alternatives to corn oil. Buy or make a cornstarch-free baking powder.
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How does a person begin the corn-free journey?
Unless you are facing a crisis situation, adopt the tortoise’s sensible life philosophy rather than the hare’s bust-a-lung approach. Slow and steady wins the race.
Applying that to going corn-free, replace one corn-based product, such as corn syrup, with homemade or corn-free alternatives. Once that is second nature–and don’t worry, it will be–move on to another, such as corn starch.
Because corn is in most processed foods in America, eliminating corn will result in a highly whole foods, natural diet. That’s a silver, corn-free lining if ever there was one!
Are you on a corn-free diet? What is your biggest struggle?
(I am in no way a medical expert. I am merely the parent of a child with allergies and digestive issues. My desire in this article is to share a simpler approach to an often overwhelming situation.)
Christy writes about simplifying life at The Simple Homemaker. Once weighed down by unrealistic expectations and life’s overwhelming demands, Christy has learned to throw off the complications of life and find joy in the little things. Christy and her contemporary Christian musician husband, Stephen Bautista, homeschool their 7 children, ages brand new to 15. The family tours the country for the music mission and works together on a home business.