Gluten and Corn free Diet Shopping Tips for Food Allergy Sufferers

Shopping tips for gluten and corn free dieting: There are a lot of gluten free convenience foods on the market today. Many celiacs have been eating these prepackaged foods and now they’re having problems. 

Corn is a problem for a lot of gluten intolerant people. Corn is used a lot because it helps to hold gluten free breads and crackers together nicely. That is because corn also contains its own type of gluten. Many people in the celiac community are surprised to learn this.

Gluten-free Corn-freeIf you need gluten and corn free products for your gluten and corn free diet, there is a much shorter list of available items. Hopefully the tips here will help you find what you need to make your favorite recipes without the ingredients that are known to make you sick.

When I first began converting my kitchen for my son’s gluten and corn free diet I searched countless websites and found many focused on celiac’s disease, corn allergies, or combined celiac and milk intolerance, but I could not find a site that focused specifically on avoiding both gluten and corn allergies.  It is difficult to stick to a gluten-free diet, but for those who also have to avoid corn as well, eating can become a real problem.

I have devoted a special section of this website for people allergic to both wheat and corn, hoping to spawn a community of readers that will interact together with tips and recipes to share. Please check it out. The links are found at the bottom of this post.

Recommended Reading: Check out our Healthy Gluten and Corn Free Recipes… and Gluten and Corn free Products List

Learn how to read product labels for the gluten and corn free diet:

Gluten free labeling is lacking strict standards but it is still much more reliable than corn free labeling at the moment. If you are new a gluten and corn free diet but you’ve been gluten free awhile, you will be disappointed to learn that corn is not considered a major allergen in the U.S. and is not regulated or labeled in food products as an allergen. There is just simply no law to protect people suffering from corn allergies. Since manufacturers are not accountable, labeling becomes a nefarious process of calling for verification and getting cross contaminated to whittle down safe products and reliable companies. Strange ingredient names on your product label may in fact be corn derived even though it is not listed on the box. You really have to become your own sleuth when you start a gluten and corn free diet.

Gluten and corn free condiment and extract tips:

  • People with corn allergies have to be careful of extracts. First, you need to be sure you are using a pure extract and not a sweetened one. Second, nearly all commercial extracts are made from alcohol derived from corn. If they are not then they are derived from synthetic alcohol. Even organic extracts can be corn derived. Many allergists claim extracts won’t  provoke an allergic reaction but many people who are corn free are not convinced. You have to try it out for yourself and then decide where you stand.
  • People with gluten and corn allergies also need to be careful of products containing vinegar. This includes popular ketchup brands. White vinegar is not corn free and sometimes is not gluten free either. You need to call the manufacturer if the product is not labeled gluten and corn free. Manufacturers will tell you that distilled vinegar is okay because all remnants of the grain is removed during processing. It is up to you to decide whether distilled vinegar is okay for you. A good option is apple cider vinegar.
  • People with gluten and corn allergies need to avoid citric acid in a majority of products, especially non-organic brands. Citric acid is largely produced by processing corn products in the U.S. even though it can be made from other raw ingredients.

Gluten and corn free shopping tips:

  • Avoid buying things with ‘natural flavors’ as an ingredient
  • Shop during the business day and bring your cell phone to call manufacturers right from the store aisle.
  • Check out the generic brands, they often have the least ingredients and preservatives.
  • Read the labels every time you shop because manufacturers are known to change their source ingredients.
  • Soy sauce is not gluten free unless it is labeled gluten free. San-J makes a wheat-free soy sauce.
  • A food co-op it will often be better than a grocery store, even on that specializes in organic foods. coopdirectory.org/directory.htm and nationalco-opdirectory.com

Corn permeates the food system as much if not more than wheat and gluten do. Over 80% of all processed foods and drinks in the U.S. have corn-derived ingredients in them.  Read Michael Pollan’s book:  The Omnivore’s Dilemma for a real eye-opener on the role that corn plays in our food chain and our children’s sugary diets! Keep in mind that corn is now the sugar you feed your kids, corn is in an indirect way increasing the Average braces costs.

Food Allergy Kitchen can be a great resource when you are getting started: Cooking and Baking Substitutions for Corn, Grain Allergy Info, and info about how to handle Holidays.

Resource for gluten free companies and their certified products:

  • (Gluten-Free Certification Organization (list of 20 companies and their products): gfco.org/products.php

NOTE: Remember to always check the ingredients on gluten-free products to make sure they are safe for the gluten and corn free diet.

Check out our list of favorite healthy commercial snack products too.  Also check out Healthy-Family’s Getting started on a gluten and corn free diet page for additional tips.

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7 Comments on Gluten and Corn free Diet Shopping Tips for Food Allergy Sufferers

  1. My 16 year old son was recently diagnosed with severe allergies to corn and sesame seed. We also discovered that he test positive to mild allergies to wheat, peanut and walnut. For years he has suffered from headaches, fatigue, aching joints, Candida overgrowth in his intestines and mouth (Thrush), IBS, Esophagitis and Reynoids (sp) Syndrome. He always feels sick. His GI issues have been treated for a few years, but the other symptoms were always explained away.

    I was sure he must be from an auto-immune disease and finally insisted that he be tested. He tested negative for everything but the food allergies. My doctor feels that most of his symptoms could be the result of his newly discovered allergies. I wish I had discovered them years ago. I am anxious to make the necessary changes to his diet to see if he’ll begin to feel better. I am overwhelmed though by the difficulty of finding products that are corn and wheat free. I was told to go with rice products, but most of them contain corn or sesame. I work full-time and my husband suffers from mental illness and is not able to help me with the kids. I rarely have time to cook during the week.

    My son works part-time and is out with his friends alot. His diet recently has consisted of hot dogs and soda at the gas station! I made a trip to Trader Joe’s today and found some corn free snacks to get him started. I’ve tried to explain to him that if he wants to feel better he’s going to have to make some serious changes to his diet. Is it realistic to expect him to change his diet without forcing the rest of the family to conform to his new food restrictions? Will removing some of the corn from his diet but not all make a difference? For example, I’m assuming that a chocolate chip cookie contains more corn syrup than corn starch (without even considering the wheat). If I find cookies with natural sugar but still containing corn starch is that helpful? I feel like it’s going to be impossible to cut both corn and wheat out of his diet without making it a full time job! How is he supposed to eat when he’s out or at school? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! I’m at my wits end.

    • Julie,
      Your son is really going to need to go cold turkey to feel better, just my experience. Corn is tough but not impossible to avoid if you know what you can have. We have a wheat and corn free house. All the members do not eat that way exclusively, but the food in the house is all safe for our allergic son. We eat a lot of whole foods and organics. I will tell you that my son’s severity to corn has lessened over the last three years and I attribute that to strict avoidance. The longer you avoid the allergen the lower the antibody levels drop, and they drop slowly, over time. They do not fluctuate with every meal. It takes years to get them to go down. So if he eats just a little every day then it does nothing for his intolerance as the antibody levels will remain high. Many celiacs test positive for gluten antibodies up to two years after they remove it from their diets. I think corn is the same, to be honest.
      He is going to have to want to do it. At his age he should be able to do his own shopping too. Does he drive? Trader Joe’s is great for gluten labeling, but corn is tricky. If the family doesn’t want to conform to the diet, maybe you could clean out a cabinet for your son.

      Your son is not alone. Many folks are finding they are allergic to corn. There may be a support group at his school for allergies. You may want to look into a local MOCHA group too. (Mothers of Children Having Allergies). Your son will need a local support group of peers. Maybe call the school nurse and have a chat? My son has friends at his school with food allergies and it helps that he knows he isn’t alone.

      In our house we are careful with our meats and do not buy meat that is fed from feed lots as they are mostly corn fed. We buy organic free range eggs and chicken. When the corn allergy dx was first discovered we didn’t do these things and I thought that might be extreme but now feel it was worth it.
      Some things your son can do are eating at home before he goes out, keeping a bag of non-perishable snacks in his locker and the car for food emergencies– (Larabars, etc…), and learning to cook. He’s 16, and will need to do this for survival when it’s time for him to move out, possibly when he starts college, and it will help you tremendously with your schedule, etc… In our house our son eats a big breakfast before heading out the door. He usually eats leftovers at lunch time (we rely a lot on crockpot cooking).

      There are some new gluten free ready made products now available that are also corn free. We are fortunate to have a good celiac store near us and they are always finding unique products. I have used frozen apple pies, frozen individual soups, and frozen ready to use pizza dough. But remember, if candida is a problem then the pizzas and pies are not ideal.

      I downloaded an applet on my iphone recently that helps me to keep organized with gluten and corn free products we buy from various stores. It even allows me to photograph the item for easy reference. This helps me when I have to send someone else shopping for me. This is just an idea I though I would throw out.

      Trader Joe’s labels their gluten free well, but not all are corn free, as you know. If you visit http://www.cornallergens.com and click on the page that lists ingredients that are corn derived you will be able to navigate pretty well on the first shopping trip.
      We have had a lot of luck with Trader Joe’s, but we also use our local celiac store a lot too.

      Things that you can do in the house for starters: do not buy salted butter or regular iodized salt. Get only sea salt. Try as best you can to eliminate all things with citric acid in them. Try to avoid dairy unless it is on my safe foods list. Dairy in general is loaded with corn by products. Especially shredded cheeses, sour creams, and cottage cheeses. Even regular milk is dodgy. We shred all our own cheese and are careful with our brands. The only ketchup we have found was muir glen. The only mustard was at whole foods. We only use spectrum canola mayo (not the light).

      I am not sure if you are aware, but there have been correlations found between celiac/gluten intolerance and depression, ADHD, OCD, and schizophrenia. This might be motivating for your son in light of your family situation.

      Wheat, peanuts, and corn are loaded with mycotoxins, and so the allergies to them might be a direct result of the candida/fungal issues he is struggling with.

      We eat Pamela’s mini chocolate chip cookies. You can buy them in bulk through Amazon.com. We also get an Allerenergy bar that is gluten/corn free and tastes pretty good. I have to caution that a fungal issue really needs to be treated with a low sugar diet, especially in the beginning. Once the gut has healed then sweets in moderation are probably okay.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I did not consider dairy being a problem. Is it because the cows are corn fed? He tested negative to a lactose intolerance, which was a surprise to me. He has never had much luck with dairy. It seems to trigger alot of IBS attacks. Also, why sea salt vs. regular salt? Do you buy the frozen products at your local Celiacs store?

    • Julie,
      Oh my gosh– Dairy…..
      Almost all dairy products are infested with corn by-products. You really have to learn your brands and how to read labels.
      Here is my ‘safe products’ list: http://healthy-family.org/safe-products. It is certainly not complete and manufacturers often change their formulations so do read the label before you buy, but this list was born out of necessity when my son was first diagnosed.
      I also thought my son had a dairy allergy problem and was even told by my doctor to take him off of all dairy. Funny thing he improved after that a little bit. A couple years later when we did allergy testing he was negative for dairy. He can now eat any dairy that is also corn free without problems. If it has corn in it he will start grinding his teeth. It is weird. Usually we see it with cheese products more than anything. We only buy organic dairy products. Most cheeses are dusted with corn starch to keep them from sticking to the plastic wrap. Sliced cheeses and shredded cheeses are ‘all’ contaminated as far as I am concerned. We buy blocked cheese and shred it ourselves. We are not in the habit of eating cheeses, though, because we have had such bad luck with it. There was only one brand of cottage cheese (Friendly Farms from Whole Foods) that turned out okay for my son. Ricotta, forget about it. I have yet to find one. Avoid the deli due to cross contamination and only buy in prepackaged containers. We use only Daisy Sour Cream and rely more on kefir than on milk in baking and in our morning health shake. For the longest time my son never even drank milk. He might do it occasionally now.
      Salt.
      Table salt uses maltodextrin to stick the iodine to the grain. Maltodextrin is made from corn. We only use sea salt at home. I am sure he gets it in minute doses when we eat out or in some packaged foods. So try to think ‘low sodium’ in packaged products and hopefully it won’t be a problem. My son’s symptoms ‘were’ neurological. So we saw the reaction almost immediately after the food. Now it has been so long since we started the diet that he doesn’t react like that anymore. He tolerates more but we still don’t ‘allow’ it because we don’t want him to regress and get sickly and reactive again.
      I can get a lot of frozen products at my celiac store. Breads, rolls, donuts, soups, mini meals. I shop at Lil’s Dietary Shop. If you find a store that is willing to order a product for you that is helpful. We have ordered in bulk through her store.

  3. I am so thrilled and grateful to discover your website in regards to a combination of wheat and corn allergy. Sometimes it feels daunting to try to cope and eat well with these allergies. Few people truly understand the scope of having these two allergies. So again thank you for your support, understanding and suggested ideas.

  4. I have not had the chance to read the entire web site but I have read some and know this is the place I need to be. Found out my 11 yr old son is allergic to wheat and corn and this past week went on a very strict diet. I feel so overwhelmed and I know this is what he needs it was am immediate change and he’s already improving. However he is very angry and upset and has a great deal of attitude. I see making stuff from scratch is a must but where I am stuck is bread and pizza crust. I need to get it together to make this process a much easier one for him. Any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated.

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