Gluten Free and Corn Free: How to Manage Two Tricky Dietary Restrictions at Once - Gluten-Free Living (2022)

If you live gluten-free, you are no stranger to the work that’s required to manage your diet. Living with an additional food allergy or intolerance can make things trickier. That’s especially true when the additional food in question isn’t a top-eight allergen and does not have to be declared on the food label.

This is the case with corn.

Maintaining a corn-free diet requires a great deal of diligence since corn masquerades under a variety of names on food labels. Avoiding corn in its most obvious forms—cornstarch, corn meal, corn syrup and corn oil—is relatively easy. Doing the detective work to root out other possible sources of corn can be much more challenging and confusing. The best way to combat that feeling is to educate yourself with reliable information.

Why avoid corn?

Corn usually has to be avoided due to either an allergy or intolerance. A food allergy is an immune response to a food protein and can involve a host of reactions ranging from skin rashes and gastrointestinal upset to life-threatening respiratory distress. Food allergies must be diagnosed by a physician, and the screening will usually include skin prick testing, blood work and possibly an oral challenge with the food in question. Correct diagnosis is important since food allergies can be life-threatening and can be triggered by even a minute amount of the food.

Food intolerance does not involve the immune system, and while not life-threatening, the multitude of symptoms can significantly diminish one’s health and quality of life. Intolerances can be due to an inability to completely digest particular foods. Symptoms vary widely and can affect the skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal function. Currently there are no food intolerance tests that are accepted by conventional physicians as reliable or accurate. Working with your physician and keeping a food diary or completing an elimination diet may be the most reliable tool for determining corn intolerance. A food intolerance also differs from an allergy in that those with an intolerance can tolerate a small amount of the target food. For instance, one person may be able to tolerate a dressing made with corn oil or a corn-based sweetener while another may become symptomatic.

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Since corn and its derivatives are so prevalent in our food supply, it can be difficult to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet while eating corn free. For this reason it is important that you receive an accurate diagnosis.

Currently there are no published studies that show a connection between celiac disease and a corn allergy so it appears having both is a coincidence.

Deciphering labels

You always have to read labels, but you might also have to call food makers to be sure none of the ingredients are derived from corn.

The so-called top 8 allergens must always be included in clear language on the label of a food regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. Since corn is not in the top 8, companies are not required to call out corn in the ingredient list. Sometimes the only way to be sure is to ask the food company. Most foods have toll-free numbers on the packaging. Websites also may answer questions about the use of corn in ingredients. Citric acid, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, sucrose, glucose and natural flavors are just a few of the “code names” that typically denote the presence of corn. There are hundreds of names that may indicate the presence of corn in a product, so consulting online lists is the best tactic for remaining informed.

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The website cornallergens.com has an extensive list. Not everything on the list always contains corn, but the possibility exists so you have to check. Although many corn-derived ingredients should be free of corn protein, individual sensitivities vary, so monitoring reactions is of paramount importance.

Added complications

Over the past decade a great deal of progress has been made in the gluten-free food industry. Cereals, breads, snacks and baking mixes have become more widely available, with many products reaching mainstream grocery stores. One of the unique challenges of managing a corn- and gluten-free diet is that a majority of these prepackaged products contain corn.

Cookies, breads and pastas may contain cornstarch, to add a lighter texture, or corn meal, as a gluten-free flour alternative. Rice and quinoapasta made solely from those grains should be safe, but some gluten-free pastas combine corn with these other gluten-free grains. Xanthan gum is another prevalent ingredient in the gluten-free diet that can be made from corn. This byproduct of the fermentation of wheat, soy or corn sugars is most commonly manufactured from corn. Although xanthan gum is a refined product, and should be free of corn protein, some corn-allergic individuals report reactions to xanthan gum. Those with corn intolerance or a less-sensitive allergy may be able to consume products containing xanthan gum without becoming symptomatic, so products that contain it should not automatically be ruled out.

For those who can’t tolerate xanthan gum, this is no small matter because xanthan gum revolutionized gluten-free baking by providing a “gluten substitute.” It is indisputably helpful in adding flexibility and structure to baked goods and has allowed home bakers and manufacturers to produce foods reminiscent of their wheat counterparts.

Where to find corn inyour pantry

The most common sources of corn in a gluten-free diet are cereals, breads and baked goods. Gluten-free soups, broths and sauces may also contain “natural flavors” or sweeteners derived from corn. These compounds are used by manufacturers to intensify flavors and can be found in just about everything from cookies to chicken stock. Check with the manufacturer to find out if such additives are corn-derived.

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Unexpected sources such as beverages, dairy products and packaged lunch meats can also be a problem. These products often contain corn-derived natural flavors, cornstarch, corn-based sweeteners and preservatives. Canned goods such as beans, vegetables and fruits frequently have corn-derived citric acid or other preservatives added to extend shelf life. Gluten-free soy sauces and vanilla extracts may also need to be avoided, depending on individual sensitivities, since they typically contain alcohol made from corn.

While baking powders and powdered sugars are usually gluten-free, most brands include cornstarch in their preparation. Another surprising source of corn is iodized salt, which contains dextrose (a sugar typically derived from corn) to stabilize the iodine.

Additional sources of corn include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and vitamins. Various corn products such as starch, dextrinand microcrystalline cellulose are widely used in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Working with your physician and a knowledgeable compounding pharmacy is essential for managing this aspect of a corn-free diet.

Gluten-free, corn-free baking and cooking

The scarcity of suitable store-bought foods means that home cooking is necessary to successfully manage a gluten-free, corn-free diet.

For baking, guar gum is an effective substitute for xanthan gum. Baking powder and vanilla extract can be made at home, and sea salt is a good option for people who react to the dextrose in iodized salt. Arrowroot, tapioca and potato starch make good substitutes for cornstarch in baked goods. Honey, agave, maple syrup or Lyle’s golden syrup work well as replacements for corn syrup.

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When choosing one of these liquid sweeteners, it’s important to read labels to ensure that your brand of choice is “pure” and doesn’t add flavorings or corn syrup to the final product. Corn-free powdered sugar can be made from scratch with tapioca starch or purchased at some specialty grocery stores. Most brown sugars are safe, but check individual brand labels to ensure that no flavorings or caramel color are present.

When cooking, look for pure oils that do not contain flavorings or additives. Vegetable oil is typically a blend of oils that includes corn oil, so it should be avoided. Olive, safflower and coconut oils are good choices. Homemade chicken stock or even water can be a useful substitute for store-bought broth in soups and sauces. Gluten-free, corn-free soy sauce alternatives such as coconut aminos are also available. To replicate a crisp “breading” for fish and chicken, you can use quinoa flakes or finely ground gluten-free certified oats.

Although it may sound daunting, it is possible to prepare gluten-free, corn-free foods once you learn all the ins and outs of avoiding this ubiquitous ingredient.

The basics

The following is a list of recipes for making basic things most people just buy.

  • Baking powder
    Mix ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar to replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe.
  • Vanilla extract
    Slice 4 vanilla beans lengthwise and submerge them in a jar filled with 12 ounces of pure potato or grape vodka. Allow to sit for 6 weeks before using for optimal flavor.
  • Powdered sugar
    In a food processor or heavy duty blender, process 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot or tapioca starch until it is fine and a bit powdery (2 to 3 minutes).

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FAQs

How do you manage a gluten-free diet? ›

If you don't have celiac disease or gastrointestinal irritation, Rajagopal recommends removing highly processed foods from your diet before removing gluten. Add in more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread or pasta, and lean proteins. Many people find they feel better just by eating better, not by removing gluten.

What foods would be limited on a gluten-free diet? ›

Although people with wheat allergies must avoid wheat, most are able to eat other grains, including gluten-containing ones like barley and rye.
...
If you have a gluten intolerance, avoid the following:
  • white bread.
  • whole wheat bread.
  • potato bread.
  • rye bread.
  • sourdough bread.
  • wheat crackers.
  • whole wheat wraps.
  • flour tortillas.
10 Sept 2020

Why you shouldn't go on a gluten-free diet? ›

If you embrace such a diet, you'll end up "eating a lot of foods that are stripped of nutrients," Tallmadge said. Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, she said.

Can you eat corn on a gluten-free diet? ›

Yes, corn in its natural form is gluten-free. However, be on the lookout for gluten in corn that comes in a sauce or with any other ingredients, as they could contain the protein. Regardless of the type of corn you purchase, always double check the ingredients label to make sure the product is truly gluten-free.

How long does it take for a gluten-free diet to start working? ›

Once you start to follow a gluten-free diet, your symptoms should improve within a few weeks. Many people start to feel better in just a few days. Your intestines probably won't return to normal for several months. It could take years for them to completely heal.

How long does it take to adjust to a gluten-free diet? ›

It can take between six months and up to five years (in some cases longer) for the gut damage caused by eating gluten to fully heal. Several factors are thought to be involved in the variable time taken for the gut to heal, including age and severity of gut damage at diagnosis.

Does oatmeal have gluten? ›

Yes, pure, uncontaminated oats are gluten-free. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration considers oats a gluten-free grain under its gluten-free labeling regulations and only requires that packaged products with oats as an ingredient contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten overall.

What happens when you stop eating gluten? ›

"When you stop eating gluten, you may experience less bloating, lowered inflammation, clearer skin, more energy, and less brain fog," Snyder says.

Does your poop change when you go gluten-free? ›

Many patients had alternating diarrhea and constipation, both of which were responsive to the gluten-free diet. Most patients had abdominal pain and bloating, which resolved with the diet.

Can you go back to eating gluten after being gluten-free? ›

In layman's terms, the Gluten Challenge is essentially a backwards version of an elimination diet where someone who has been avoiding gluten for any length of time starts eating it again. Generally it's only implemented under a doctor's supervision in preparation for Celiac's Disease testing.

Does gluten cause inflammation in joints? ›

In people with celiac disease, eating foods that contain gluten can cause sluggishness, bloating, and digestive problems. It can also cause pain, swelling, and inflammation in many areas of the body, including the joints.

Do potatoes and corn have gluten? ›

Are Potatoes Gluten Free? The simple answer is yes — potatoes are gluten-free. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. Potatoes aren't grains, they're a type of starchy vegetable.

Do potatoes have gluten? ›

Potatoes in their raw form do not contain any gluten and are therefore perfectly suitable for Coeliacs and anyone with special dietary needs. What you do need to be careful about is how they are prepared as any additional ingredients used could contain gluten, providing a 'back door' for them.

Does corn trigger celiac disease? ›

Corn is naturally gluten free. The protein in corn is sometimes referred to as “corn gluten” but it is not harmful to those with celiac disease.

What can I eat for breakfast gluten-free? ›

Below are some of the most common ingredients in gluten-free breakfasts.
  • Gluten-free flour.
  • Scrambled eggs (or eggs of any type)
  • Dried fruit.
  • Fresh berries.
  • Yogurt.
  • Hash browns.
  • Corn tortillas.
  • Steel-cut oats.
5 May 2022

How long does it take for diarrhea to stop after going gluten-free? ›

How long does it take for chronic diarrhea to disappear after starting a gluten-free diet? If the diarrhea is due to celiac disease, it should take no longer than a few weeks to go away. If it persists longer, either the diet is not perfect or something else is causing it.

Does rice contain gluten? ›

Does Rice Have Gluten? All natural forms of rice — white, brown, or wild — are gluten-free. Natural rice is a great option for people who are sensitive to or allergic to gluten, a protein usually found in wheat, barley, and rye, and for people who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten.

Are Quaker Oats really gluten-free? ›

Here's the statement from Quaker Oats regarding this problem: "Yes, oats are naturally gluten-free. However, during farming, transportation, and storage, gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye, barley, and spelt may be unintentionally introduced."

Why are Quaker Oats not gluten-free? ›

Oats don't naturally contain gluten. Cross-contamination with gluten may happen in the fields where oats are grown or, more commonly, through processing and packaging facilities, though. This means that the oats come in contact with ingredients like wheat, barley, and rye, making them unsafe for people with CD.

Can I eat oatmeal if I am gluten sensitive? ›

Gluten is a protein that is present in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Oats do not belong to any of these groups, so they are usually safe for people with celiac disease to eat. However, people with gluten sensitivity, particularly those with celiac disease, may still need to be careful about eating oats.

Who does a gluten-free diet benefit the most? ›

In the world of trendy diets, gluten-free continues to be one of the most popular. This eating style is absolutely essential to people with celiac disease, who can't tolerate even small amounts of the protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.

Is a gluten-free diet good for everybody? ›

Not Everyone Should Eat a Gluten-Free Diet

Unless you have gluten intolerance, a wheat allergy, or celiac disease, there are no benefits of eating gluten-free. Following a gluten-free diet will not make you healthier. Unfortunately, it can have the opposite effect if you don't eat a diverse and balanced diet.

Is a gluten-free diet good for weight loss? ›

Bottom Line. Although a gluten-free diet is the primary treatment for celiac disease and may help to alleviate symptoms in various conditions related to gluten sensitivity, there is currently no evidence showing that a gluten-free diet is effective for weight loss or for general health benefits.

What happens to your body when you stop eating dairy and gluten? ›

Many people experience improved mood, reduced mental health issues, and a boost of energy by eliminating dairy and gluten. Going gluten-free and dairy-free may be just what you need to feel like yourself again.

How giving up gluten changed my life? ›

Eliminating gluten and grains from my diet literally changed my life. I went from spending hours in the bathroom some nights and always having stomach pain to being “regular” and not having to worry about where the nearest bathroom was all the time.

How long after cutting out gluten will I lose weight? ›

In his own practice, Dr. Davis said he has seen people drop an average of about 15 to 20 pounds in a month when they simply eliminate wheat.

What color is gluten poop? ›

Yellowish poop

In diseases such as celiac disease, where the body cannot absorb the nutrients from certain foods, this shade of poop can be common. Occasionally the yellow hue may be due to dietary causes, with gluten often being the culprit.

Why do I poop mucus? ›

Larger amounts of mucus in stool, associated with diarrhea, may be caused by certain intestinal infections. Bloody mucus in stool, or mucus accompanied by abdominal pain, can represent more serious conditions — Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and even cancer.

Why does gluten-free make me poop? ›

FODMAP Intolerance: Another important cause of ongoing symptoms is FODMAP intolerance. This is common in people with celiac disease and is blamed for most gluten sensitivity cases. FODMAP intolerance creates symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea even after gluten is eliminated.

How long does the gut take to heal from gluten? ›

After you stop eating foods with gluten, your symptoms will likely get better in a few days. Your small intestine should heal completely in 3 to 6 months. Your villi will be back and working again. If you are older, it may take up to 2 years for your body to heal.

What happens to your body when you start eating gluten again? ›

Any major diet change is going to take some time for your body to adjust to. Reintroducing gluten is no exception, Farrell says. It's not uncommon to have gas or bloating or abdominal pain, so you may experience some digestive distress.

What are the first signs of being gluten intolerant? ›

Seven symptoms of a gluten intolerance
  • Diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms of gluten intolerance may include constipation, fatigue, headaches, and nausea. ...
  • Bloating. Another very common symptom that people report in cases of gluten intolerance is bloating. ...
  • Abdominal pain. ...
  • Fatigue. ...
  • Nausea. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Other symptoms.
6 Jun 2018

What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation? ›

Based on visual observation, the ancients characterised inflammation by five cardinal signs, namely redness (rubor), swelling (tumour), heat (calor; only applicable to the body' extremities), pain (dolor) and loss of function (functio laesa).

What foods aggravate joint inflammation? ›

Red meat, such as burgers and steaks. Processed meats like hot dogs, brats and other sausages. Refined carbohydrates like the ones you find in breads and pastries. Dairy products, because for many people, casein, a protein common in milk, ice cream and cheese, has been shown to irritate the tissue around joints.

What foods cause inflammation and joint pain? ›

Here are eight foods known to contribute to inflammation and the aggravation of your arthritis symptoms.
  • Sweets. Consuming too much sugar increases inflammation in your body. ...
  • Dairy. ...
  • Fatty foods. ...
  • Carbohydrates. ...
  • Tobacco and alcohol. ...
  • Advanced glycation end (AGE) products. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Additives.

Do Sweet potatoes contain gluten? ›

Sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free.

Do potatoes or rice have gluten? ›

Gluten is a protein found in some grains, like wheat, barley, and rye. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, like potatoes, rice, fruits, and vegetables.

Do baked potatoes have gluten? ›

Baked potatoes can be a delicious, nutritious, gluten-free staple for any meal – and they are budget-friendly and shelf-stable, too!

What kind of bread has the least amount of gluten? ›

Sourdough bread is a low gluten bread. Sourdough bread and rye bread are often considered ideal alternatives for those on a reduced-gluten diet, because they both fall into the category of low-gluten bread.

Do instant mashed potatoes have gluten? ›

If you want the convenience of store-bought mashed potatoes, several brands of instant mashed potatoes are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million (ppm), including Betty Crocker Potato Buds, Idaho Spuds Naturals line, and Hungry Jack Instant Mashed Potatoes.

Are mashed potatoes have gluten? ›

Since potatoes are a vegetable, and not a grain, that inherently makes them gluten free. This makes potatoes a great, and versatile, solution for anyone that has Celiac disease or just doesn't tolerate gluten well.

Can eggs trigger celiac? ›

Eggs are generally a safe option on the gluten-free diet, and can provide you plenty of protein to jump-start your day. Just make sure that any eggs you eat are prepared in a way that guards against gluten cross-contamination.

Is corn inflammatory? ›

4. Corn. Corn has long been a staple food for Native Americans, but it can also be inflammatory, given its high sugar content.

Does quinoa have gluten? ›

Quinoa is a pseudocereal originating from the Andean region in South America that does not contain gluten.

Are corn and rice gluten-free? ›

While some grains contain gluten, there are a number of naturally gluten-free grains that those following a gluten-free diet can enjoy. These include oats, quinoa, brown rice, corn, millet, amaranth, teff, and buckwheat.

Does corn or rice have gluten? ›

Gluten-free flours — rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours. Hominy (corn) Millet.

Can people with celiac eat corn and rice? ›

Be careful of corn and rice products. These don't contain gluten, but they can sometimes be contaminated with wheat gluten if they're produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products. Look for such a warning on the package label.

Is corn gluten free gluten? ›

Cornmeal (coarse ground corn) is gluten free when in its natural form. Just like cornstarch and corn flour, choose products that are labeled gluten free when possible, as cross contamination can occur during manufacturing.

Do rice and potatoes contain gluten? ›

Many foods, such as meat, vegetables, cheese, potatoes and rice, are naturally free from gluten so you can still include them in your diet.

What is the easiest grain to digest? ›

White rice

When looking for grains that are easy on the digestive system, white rather than brown, black, or red rice may be a better option. Enriched white rice will have added vitamins and minerals, which enhance its nutritional value. Half a cup of long grain, dry, brown rice provides : 300 calories.

What kind of rice is gluten free? ›

Does Rice Have Gluten? All natural forms of rice — white, brown, or wild — are gluten-free. Natural rice is a great option for people who are sensitive to or allergic to gluten, a protein usually found in wheat, barley, and rye, and for people who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten.

Do french fries have gluten? ›

In short, the ingredients for French fries (potatoes, oil, salt) are naturally gluten-free. But many fast food restaurants cook their French fries in oil that is cross-contaminated with foods that contain gluten, meaning their French fries cannot be considered gluten-free.

Does peanut butter have gluten? ›

In its natural form, both peanuts and peanut butter are gluten-free. Many store-bought brands of peanut butter are also gluten-free, with gluten-containing peanut butter tending to be the exception rather than the rule.

Does basmati rice have gluten? ›

Regardless of how you approach gluten, it's helpful to know that all rice, in its natural form, is gluten-free! This includes every variety of short, medium or long grain rice. From brown whole grain rice to enriched white rice and even special varieties like jasmine, basmati, red and black.

Do tortilla chips have gluten? ›

Tortilla chips are most often made from 100% ground corn, which is naturally gluten-free.

Does quinoa have gluten? ›

Quinoa is a pseudocereal originating from the Andean region in South America that does not contain gluten.

Does corn gluten cause inflammation? ›

A Study published in the journal Gut identified that corn gluten caused an inflammatory reaction in patients with celiac disease.

Does popcorn have corn gluten? ›

Popcorn is made from corn, which doesn't contain gluten. In fact, corn is often recommended as a safe alternative to wheat for those with celiac disease, and most people who cannot tolerate gluten can safely enjoy corn products ( 2 ).

Does cream cheese have gluten? ›

Full-fat cream cheese is usually gluten free, as long as it isn't packaged with crackers, pretzels, cheese straws, or other wheat products. Double-check the ingredient list on cream cheese that's labeled low-fat or fat-free. It's important to look at the labels of any processed cheese, as well as cheese products.

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