Sometimes, your changing body will crave things that seem really out of the ordinary. And one such surprising craving might be cornstarch.
You’re probably wondering “Is it safe to eat cornstarch while pregnant??” This article seeks to answer your question. We’ll talk everything about cornstarch in pregnancy – should expecting moms eat it? does it come with any benefit?.
What is Cornstarch?
Cornstarch is the starchy part of corn kernels, which is produced through a process known as wet milling. It makes up the separated, dried starch of these corn kernels.
Primarily, it serves as a popular choice for a thickening agent in different food items, including sauces, gravies, soups and even puddings.
Its usefulness isn’t only limited to cooking. It’s also employed in several ways such as manufacturing of adhesives, in the creation of corn syrup and sugars, and even as a size for paper and textiles.
It has also earned its place in non-culinary settings, with uses extending to the realm of beauty and home care.
While this is a short overview, its multifunctionality highlights why it might perfectly fit within that versatile asset you did not know you needed.
Cornstarch as a craving and pica during pregnancy
During this journey, cravings for unusual things like cornstarch can be a symptom of a condition called pica.
Pica is usually characterized by an appetite for such substances that are non-nutritive. For instance you could be craving for substances like ice, toothpaste, soap, plaster, dirt, clay, chalk, laundry starch.
It has been shown that this condition is a symptom of anaemia – where you lack nutrients like irons and zinc. Also sometimes hormonal changes, stress, persistent anxiety, and some mental health conditions are highly likely to cause it.
Though your craving for cornstarch can be resulted from pica, it may not automatically mean you have the condition. You may as well eat it probably because you miss eating it.
Is it safe to eat cornstarch while pregnant?
You are good to consume cornstarch while pregnant. But before you smile about it, “it should be in moderation!”
You should check your intake because bingeing on it is likely to cause some issues, health-wise.
What are the side effects of eating cornstarch while pregnant?
The disadvantages of eating cornstarch in excess include;
Regularly eating this will cause discomfort in several ways including over-satisfaction, bloating, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems like constipation.
Obesity and impact on blood pressure levels
When you overeat corn starch, it can also impact your blood pressure levels because of its high calorie content. Overly eating high-calorie foods will cause you to put on weight and make you obese.
And Once you persistently put on weight, your blood pressure levels starts fluctuating, increasing your risk to hypertension and gestational diabetes. Don’t overeat!
Impact your blood sugar levels
You know corn starch is a refined carb with low fiber content, correct? This means its glycemic index is high and your body is quickly going to digest this food, which may potentially cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
A spike in your blood sugar levels means a rapid increase and it isn’t the best especially when you’re expecting.
Excessively taking cornflour can also cause indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems like bloating and a stomach upset, which could be really disturbing.
Moreover, during pregnancy, hormonal changes may slow the digestive processes, and consuming cornstarch could further exacerbate this.
Being slower to digest can cause eaten foods to sit in the stomach for longer, which will make you bloat.
Shortage of important nutrients
When you make it a habit of eating it daily, it is likely to replace other nutrient-rich foods in your diet, and hence lead to nutritional deficiencies.
When you lack essential nutrients your baby needs, you’re going to cause a stunt to its growth, and even pose a higher risk of contracting diseases.
And I don’t think you’d want to experience these so do not overeat. Consume it moderately by adding into balanced diet.
If you realize you’re excessively craving and overindulging, talk to your obstetrician. Discuss with them so they find personalized dietary options for you.
How much cornstarch can you consume while pregnant?
There isn’t any accepted amount of cornstarch you should be eating to stay healthy during pregnancy.
One thing you should note is that, while it is safe to eat in smaller quantities, it is not advised. This is simply because it is nutritionally worthless.
That said, the most important thing for you to do is to focus on your prenatals and nutrient-rich foods that have been professionally recommended by your dietician or obstetrician for your wellbeing and your baby’s.
Additionally, do well to vary your diet to include different essential nutrients like calcium, irons, folate, and other vitamins.
Even if you still want to eat corn starch, make it a part of a well-cooked balanced meal than consuming it in its raw state. Raw constarch is basically unhealthy and could cause several health issues.
Better yet, you can try out these healthier alternatives discussed below.
What are some better cornstarch alternatives?
I hope you don’t get deterred about the side effects. In fact, it is safe for pregnant women to eat cornstarch but they should not binge on it.
Regardless, these are some better cornstarch alternatives that is more nourishing for you and your unborn child.
1. Wheat flour
Wheat flour has long been recommended for pregnant women for its numerous benefits. When using wheat flour as a thickening agent for a recipe, you’d need to use twice as much as you’d have used for cornstarch.
For instance, if a recipe calls for a single spoon of corn starch, you’ll need to use a couple tablespoons when using wheat flour.
This is because wheat flour do not thicken like how cornstarch does, making it an excellent food to enhance digestion while keeping you nourished.
Produced from the root of tropical Maranta arundinacea, arrowroot makes a perfect substitute for cornstarch, especially when an unborn baby is involved.
In addition to it being gluten-free, it has high fiber content. In cooking, arrowroot can create the same thickening effect and glossy finish as cornstarch without changing the flavor of the dish. This makes it a good replacement in recipes.
3. Tapioca flour
Tapioca flour is also known as tapioca starch. You can use as an excellent replacement for cornstarch during pregnancy. We extract it from cassava root, and it is mostly used as a thickening agent in cooking.
Tapioca and cornstarch have the same thickening property so if thickening agent is what you want, then tapioca should sit fine in your diet. You can use it for all your thickening puddings and sauce.
4. Rice flour
Rice flour also makes a good substitute for corn flour while expecting. It is made from finely milled rice and just like corn starch, you can use it in your sauces, soups and other dishes.
It’s gluten-free and that’s a plus for pregnant women with gluten sensitivities and allergies.
Rice flour can offer that crispy texture you need in your fried foods. But note that when using you need to double the quantity you would have used if you were using corn starch because its thickening power is less powerful.
In as much as these are good substitutes for corn flour, you should also make sure you don’t overeat them.
Rather, add them to your balanced meals with several essential nutrients and make them healthy for yourself and the unborn baby.
Eating Cornstarch while breastfeeding
Are you a breastfeeding mother and overly crave cornstarch too? If yes, then you may also want to find out whether you can eat it while nursing. Indeed, you can also eat it but just check your intake.
Corn starch will not harm you and your baby, and you’re also not going to benefit from it nutritionally.
It is rather important to rather focus on nutrient-rich foods that support milk production and will contribute to your overall health of you and your baby.
Know that your baby takes in whatever you take in through the breastmilk, so you should be cautious on your diet.
In this period, you should rather aim at eating lean meats, eggs, dairy products, lentils, and seafood low in mercury, fruits, veggies and whole grains as these will give you more milk for your baby.
However, while these are my tips as a midwife, it’s equally important to talk to your dietitian or OB-GYN if you are having a higher craving for non-food items.
He’s willing to give you tailored advise and remedies to minimize such cravings while helping your dietary needs.
It is safe for pregnant women to eat cornstarch but must check on their intake.
I wouldn’t recommend it anyway, but since it isn’t inherently dangerous eating it, you can have small amounts to satisfy your craving.
But on a more serious note, be sure to focus more on nutrient-rich foods that’ll contribute to your health and the baby’s development.
If you’re breastfeeding, then focus on foods that’ll increase the production of milk for your baby. Cornstarch is a refined carb and contains high calories, lacking the vitamins and minerals your body needs during pregnancy.
If you binge on it, it’s going to cause you to fatten, increase your blood pressure and your blood sugar levels.
In as much as you can naturally crave for cornstarch because you miss it, it could also be that you have pica, the medical condition of craving non-food items in pregnancy.
And this might by a symptom that you lack irons and zinc, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about it.