You know, before I found out that I am corn intolerant, I totally took for granted how wonderful it was to be able to just go to any store and grab whatever ingredients I needed straight off the shelf without a single glance at the writing on the package. Oh, how blissful ignorance can be! Nowadays, I have to scrutinize every piece of information on every single label, and hope to God the manufacturers aren’t lying to me, and if I don’t find enough information listed, then I actually have to call or email the manufacturers to ask them about their processing practices.
Sound exhausting? Well, it is. It pretty much makes me want to cry on a daily basis. And miraculously develop the ability to live without food. But, I really do enjoy eating, so I trudge ahead and expend limitless energy on my never-ending hunt for safe foods.
So, how does one find these elusive corn-safe food items? Here is a little guideline that I like to follow, and that you may find helpful in your future hunt:
1. Print a corn allergen list.
You can find the full list here. Print it, and put it in your car or purse so that you can pull it out every single time you go to the grocery store. Or save the link to your smart phone so that you can have easy access to it for quick reference. If you haven’t glanced at the list yet, it is pretty long and you are very likely to not remember quite a bit of it right off the top of your head for a while.
2. Read the labels. Every time.
I know you are probably thinking “duh” in your head at this one – common sense, right? Well, I must stress that you need to read the labels every single time. Even if you have bought the same product 9 times before, read it again. Manufacturers change ingredients in their products all the time, and you never know when one of those minute changes can affect a product that you have become accustomed to consuming safely. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Learn everything you can about food without labels.
Most of the foods we corn intolerants can safely consume do not come with labels. That does not always mean that they are safe. You should stick to organic fruits, vegetables, and grains, but still know that the label “organic” does not always mean corn free. Many organic farms still use a “natural” spray that is inevitably made from a corn base. Also, if the fruit is waxed, it is corny. Many fruits are gassed with ethylene gas (you guessed it – corny) to quicken the ripening process before hitting the shelves. You can read more on this here.
4. Contact manufacturers.
Like I said before, sometimes you might have to contact the manufacturers to know for sure about a specific product. Take, for instance, almonds. Raw almonds are deceiving here in the USA because they are never totally raw, unless you have an “in” with a local source. The FDA requires all almonds to be pasteurized, and it is in this process that they can become corny. If they are steam pasteurized, you are in the clear. If they are chemically pasteurized, not so much. This will never be on the label, so you have to find out yourself from the manufacturer.
5. Get to know your local food sources.
You can reap a lot of benefits from getting to know your local food sources. I have heard many stories of people who have explained their situation to local farmers, beekeepers, soap makers, etc. and have received special treatment from them due to their dietary needs. They will appreciate that they have your reliable business, and will most likely go out of their way to continue to provide you with safe options. We have a local goat farmer who is delighted to know that he helps our little toddler by providing him safe, raw goat milk that doesn’t hurt his tummy or cause any reactions.
6. Keep constant vigilance.
Although you have followed all the rules, and taken all of the right precautions, having reactions is still a possibility. Try to keep a food diary so you know exactly what you have eaten in the case that you suddenly start reacting to something. Someone that starts out as “corn-lite” can easily develop more sensitivities along the way. The more you remove from your diet, the more sensitive you become to it. This being said, you may be able to tolerate gassed fruits one day, then the next you might feel like your feet were knocked out from under you. It happens.
I’m not going to lie, I have spent many nights lying in bed thinking “how can I keep this up?”. But, the next morning I wake up and I do it all again, and you will too. I promise. Before you know it, all of this will become second nature and you will look back on your days in the beginning of your journey and smile knowing that your battles are what made you the strong, wise corn-free expert that you have become.