Friday, May 21, 2010

interview with Sharon: Live Corn Free

Interview with Sharon Rosen of Live Corn Free

Diagnosed as an adult with a serious allergy to corn, what made you start your blog?

I began my corn allergy awareness blog in response to my own experiences, in effort to hopefully make it easier for others who were having trouble receiving an accurate diagnosis. I was very sick, and although I had been seen by doctor after doctor, no one could determine the cause of my illness. I had allergy testing (it did not include corn), as well as autoimmune disorder testing. Corn Allergy was never mentioned to me as a possibility, and I went through more than half a year of daily pain, disorientation, and exhaustion. Every test I had came back with everything as “normal.” At the urge of my family doctor I kept a very detailed food diary, and after a lot of analysis, and trial and error, I was able to confirm I have an allergy to corn. If I can even prevent even one person from having to go through what I did in order to receive a proper diagnosis, than the effort I put into my blog is more than worthwhile.

You also created a FDA petition, can you tell us about this?

Yes, as I mentioned, it was because of my food diary that I was able to determine my allergy, confirm it with food challenges, and remove the allergen from my diet. Since corn can be a source of hundreds of ingredients (i.e. Citric Acid, or “Natural Vitamin E”) this process took several months.

Unfortunately, I still make mistakes on almost a daily basis. For example, I have only recently determined that “Natural Flavor” is usually hiding a corn-sourced ingredient. If foods were labeled “contains corn” the guesswork would be gone. As it is now, I call several companies each day, and talk to them about their unlisted ingredients in hope of expanding my dietary options. In addition to clear labeling simply making things easier, it would make it safer for those who are extremely sensitive to corn.

I began the petition not only for myself, but also for the Corn Allergy community. Many companies and businesses list some information related to corn on their FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, which confirms that Corn is actually a very common allergen.

Corn is in so many things, often hidden under different names, What are some of the stranger things you have heard corn being in?

This is a difficult question to answer! I am shocked not at what contains corn, but how many things contain corn. It would be safe to make that statement that most foods, medications and cosmetics contain some form of corn in one way or another. It’s very difficult to find corn free items, and medications (both prescription, and “over the counter”) must be custom made, or what’s known as compounded into a corn free formulation.

Diagnosed with corn allergy in your adulthood, how do your challenges different from someone diagnosed as a child?

This is difficult to say. I did not have food allergies as a child, and I am not a parent of a child with food allergies, so I cannot imagine the difficulty of the responsibility that holds. Speaking only as an adult with food allergies, I would say it is very tiring to constantly work toward finding “safe” foods, and then have any energy left to actually prepare anything!

Social situations can be very tricky, and I think social situations that involve food would be difficult at any age. Perhaps it is easier with very young children, but as children get older and the social pressure increases, they have the same pressure I do. I don’t want to walk into a restaurant carrying my own food, any more than a high school student would want to bring their own food to a party. Social situations where food is involved are very stressful.

Being aware that food ingredients can change, what are some of your favourite corn free foods?

You really aren’t giving me any easy questions! No seriously, I have had a very difficult time adjusting to my allergy. Because corn is in most foods, I really have yet to discover any new favorite foods. I would say I have come to appreciate fresh fruit, and freshly made fruit juice more than I could ever imagine! Drinking fresh orange juice that just came out of a juicer is not even comparable to bottled, grocery store juice. For that, I am very thankful to have some things that are even better than their corn-filled counterparts!

I do have a very easy recipe to share that would be handy for people with most food allergies. My husband created a dessert for me that is simply; sliced apples, and bananas, drizzled with honey. Simple, but delicious, and corn free!

Thank you Sharon Rosen Live Corn Free

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