I love eating corn! Everything from grilled corn on the cob, to creamed skillet corn, to cornbread, to grits. Unfortunately, it's an unrequited love. I am corn sensitive. When I do break down and devour a bit of corn or a corn-based product, I definitely regret it later. (Hello bathroom! Did ya miss me?!) That aside, I'm sure you are familiar with some forms of corn. The obvious: corn on the cob, canned corn, popped corn, corn tortillas, corn flakes, corn meal, corn syrup, and pretty much anything with "corn" in the name. The maybe not-so-obvious: grits, alcohol, vegetable oil, butter spreads, artificial syrups...
MMMmmmmmmmm! (Oh, woe is me!) There are actually an unbelievable number of corn derivatives...in everything from the food you eat, to the shampoo you wash your hair with, to the gas you fill your car with. If you were to suddenly decide to go a week without using any corn products or products containing corn derivatives (not buying anything that is corn free), you would likely find yourself walking around in your cotton underwear, without a bite to eat in your house full of food, with dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and desperately needing a nice long soapy bath. What can you find corn in, exactly? Pretty much everything. It's a cheap, diverse filler.
And the ingredients labels rarely identify corn derivatives as "corn ____". So, here's are the Many Names of Corn: *Asterisk denotes items that may or may not be corn derived or corn contaminated. List comes from http://www.cornallergens.com/list/corn-allergen-list.php Acetic acid Alcohol Alpha tocopherol Artificial flavorings Artificial sweeteners Ascorbates Ascorbic acid Aspartame (Artificial sweetener) Astaxanthin Baking powder Barley malt* (generally OK, but can be contaminated) Bleached flour* Blended sugar (sugaridextrose) Brown sugar* (generally OK if no caramel color) Calcium citrate Calcium fumarate Calcium gluconate Calcium lactate Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) Calcium stearate Calcium stearoyl lactylate Caramel and caramel color Carbonmethylcellulose sodium Cellulose microcrystalline Cellulose, methyl Cellulose, powdered Cetearyl glucoside Choline chloride Citric acid* Citrus cloud emulsion (CCS) Coco glycerides (cocoglycerides) Confectioners sugar Corn alcohol, corn gluten Corn extract Corn flour Corn oil, corn oil margarine Corn starch Corn sweetener, corn sugar Corn syrup, corn syrup solids Corn, popcorn, cornmeal Cornstarch, cornflour Crosscarmellose sodium Crystalline dextrose Crystalline fructose CyclodextrinDATUM (a dough conditioner) Decyl glucoside Decyl polyglucose DextrinDextrose (also found in IV solutions) Dextrose anything (such as monohydrate or anhydrous) d-Gluconic acid Distilled white vinegar Drying agent Erythorbic acid Erythritol Ethanol Ethocel 20 Ethylcellulose Ethylene Ethyl acetate Ethyl alcohol Ethyl lactate Ethyl maltol Fibersol-2 Flavorings* Food starch Fructose* Fruit juice concentrate* Fumaric acid Germ/germ meal Gluconate Gluconic acid Glucono delta-lactone Gluconolactone Glucosamine Glucose* Glucose syrup* (also found in IV solutions) Glutamate Gluten Gluten feed/meal Glycerides Glycerin* Glycerol Golden syrup Grits High fructose corn syrup Hominy Honey* Hydrolyzed corn Hydrolyzed corn protein Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose pthalate (HPMCP) InositolInvert syrup or sugarIodized salt Lactate Lactic acid* Lauryl glucoside Lecithin Linoleic acid Lysine Magnesium citrate Magnesium fumarate Magnesium stearate Maize Malic acid Malonic acid Malt syrup from corn Malt, malt extract Maltitol Maltodextrin Maltol Maltose Mannitol Methyl gluceth Methyl glucose Methyl glucoside Methylcellulose Microcrystaline cellulose Modified cellulose gum Modified corn starch Modified food starch Molasses* (corn syrup may be present; know your product) Mono- and di- glycerides Monosodium glutamate MSG Natural flavorings* Olestra/Olean Polenta Polydextrose Polylactic acid (PLA)Polysorbates* (e.g. Polysorbate 80) Polyvinyl acetate Potassium citrate Potassium fumarate Potassium gluconate Powdered sugar Pregelatinized starch Propionic acid Propylene glycol* Propylene glycol monostearate* SaccharinSalt (iodized salt) Semolina (unless from wheat) Simethicone Sodium carboxymethylcellulose Sodium citrate Sodium erythorbate Sodium fumarate Sodium lactate Sodium starch glycolate Sodium stearoyl fumarate Sorbate Sorbic acid Sorbitan* (anything) Sorbitol Sorghum* (not all is bad; the syrup and/or grain CAN be mixed with corn) Splenda (Artificial sweetener) Starch (any kind that's not specified) Stearic acid Stearoyls Sucralose (Artificial sweetener) SucroseSugar* (not identified as cane or beet) ThreonineTocopherol (vitamin E) Treacle (aka golden syrup) Triethyl citrate Unmodified starch Vanilla, natural flavoring Vanilla, pure or extract Vanillin Vegetable anything that's not specific* Vinegar, distilled white Vinyl acetate Vitamin C* and Vitamin E* Vitamins* Xanthan gum Xylitol Yeast* Zea mays Zein
So, what should you do if you think you might be sensitive or allergic to corn? 1. Start off by keeping a diary of everything you ingest. This isn't a dieting journal, it's for your health, so no cheating! Note the times you eat, what you eat. If you have any symptoms (such as swelling, a rash, itching or burning sensations, worsening eczema, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or vomiting), be sure to note them and the times they occur, as well. 2. If a pattern starts to emerge, speak with your doctor. S/he will likely set up an allergy test or ask you to start an elimination diet (removing a food or a group of foods, one at a time, from your diet to narrow down the cause of your symptoms). Your doctor may prescribe a medication to help (be sure to check the ingredients, though!). 3. If a sensitivity or allergy is indicated, begin replacing all of your food and hygiene (unless you're a masochist, like me) with corn free products. I know how difficult this can be when you have kids...I have a separate cabinet for my corn free products, so they can still enjoy their favorite foods. 4. Research corn sensitivity/allergy. The above list is far from comprehensive....there are WAAAY more derivatives than what you see here. 5. If you have the ALLERGY, get a medic alert bracelet. Glucose and dextrose are found in IV solutions, and hospital personnel should be aware of your allergy in case you are not in a position to speak. 6. Eating out will seem like a nightmare, at first. But once you become familiar with what you can and cannot eat, it won't feel as intimidating. Don't be shy or afraid to speak with your servers about your allergy. Actually, the first time I ate at TGI Fridays, I was surprised to learn that they have a separate menu that identifies various allergens in their foods. 7. Keep your sense of humor and be flexible. For sure, your lifestyle will change, so adaptations are in order. Not everyone in your extended family (mostly in-laws, LOL) is going to get it and they might not remember at family gatherings (I keep my allergy meds handy, since this is usually the case). But it's not impossible to live with. (Says the girl that can't keep her hands off a warm buttery corn cob.)