While unorthodox dietary habits are being spoken about almost daily, it can still be quite a shock to some people when they learn about some of the rarer items that people eat. It has been common for a long time for people to eat chalk or soap, but people also eat corn starch straight from the box. Why do people eat corn starch this way?
Table of Contents
- What is Cornstarch Used For?
- Why Do People Eat Cornstarch on its Own?
- Is Cornstarch Dangerous to Eat?
- FAQs – Why do people eat corn starch?
What is Cornstarch Used For?
Cornstarch is mostly used as a thickening agent to make a lot of meals such as soups or stews have a more desirable consistency. If the consistency is too watery or too liquidy, cornstarch can be added to make it thicker and give it some structure.
Cornstarch is technically a carbohydrate that is extracted from corn. It can also be known as cornflour. While its primary use is as a thickener, cornstarch has other uses in household and industrial capacity.
Cornstarch thickens food by having the long chains of starch molecules react to heat. When they are heated, they unravel and will begin to swell. This process can be called gelatinization and is what makes the starch act as a thickening agent.
Another usage for cornstarch in cooking is to coat slices of fruit with it before baking them in a pie. When baked, the juices from the fruit will be absorbed into the pie instead of the fruit – this can lead to a very watery pie. Coating the fruit slices in cornstarch will thicken the juices as soon as they leave the fruit, preventing the pie from being runny.
Cornstarch is also great for use as an anti-caking agent. Shredded cheese is commonly lightly dusted with cornstarch so that it does not clump together in the packaging. Alongside this, it will also help absorb moisture which will prevent the cheese from getting a slightly slimy texture.
Why Do People Eat Cornstarch on its Own?
“What happens if you eat cornstarch every day?” is not a question many people think about too often. However, for some people in the world, this is a reality as they will quite literally eat cornstarch every day.
They eat it straight from the box and will gladly eat it a lot. This is not inherently dangerous on its own, as long as the person is getting their daily nutrients from other food sources.
There are many causes for this phenomenon of unusual eating habits or cravings. The most common reason for this is that people who are pregnant will get cravings for substances that are not typically edible, such as soap, chalk, paper, and cornstarch.
The cravings are illogical but still existent, and cornstarch is a very commonly listed item when it comes to pregnancy cravings.
The other reason for people eating cornstarch is a mental and feeding disorder where someone will often eat non-foods that have absolutely no nutritional value. It is understood that the vast majority of people with PICA do not avoid eating normal meals and having a healthy diet.
The disorder alone can mostly be tame and not harmful to anyone. However, in some extreme cases, some people have eaten harmful substances that have poisoned or damaged their bodies.
What causes PICA?
Pica is not caused by a certain condition or as a trauma response. It is actually a topic of debate as it is yet to be clear what precisely causes it. However, this does not go without some pattern of repetition.
PICA is commonly found alongside a list of other diagnoses and disorders. These include;
- Iron Deficiency
- Intellectual Developmental Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Excoriation Disorder
While the first thing to do is go to a doctor and get a diagnosis or medical help, there are other things that can be done to help someone suffering from this disorder.
If the person with PICA is not getting enough nutrition in their diet because of the non-foods they are eating, it can be useful to get some nutritional supplements that can help them ensure they are healthy.
Another way to help is to restrict access to known non-foods that this person is likely to crave eating. Especially if the item is harmful or toxic, without access to it they will not be able to ingest it.
While it may not work for everyone, approaching the person with the disorder and trying to encourage them to throw away the item instead of eating it can be helpful. Not everyone will be helped by this, but it can help sometimes to have someone encourage you to redirect your urges.
Is Cornstarch Dangerous to Eat?
While the side effects of eating cornstarch can vary, they are mostly due to the non-food being harmful or toxic. If someone with pica has the craving to eat chalk, there are natural chalks available that are completely safe to eat as well as there also being confectionary treats with an incredibly similar texture.
The most damage someone will endure while eating non-foods is damage to the teeth. If their cravings are not dangerous non-foods, their teeth will take the most beating. This is because the non-foods they are eating are most likely not designed to be eaten. Thus, they can damage and hurt the teeth.
FAQs – Why do people eat corn starch?
You can eat cornstarch without cooking it first, although this is not recommended as it will not be enjoyable to eat.
A common craving during pregnancy is to eat cornstarch. This is because pregnant people get a lot of cravings for non-foods which is mostly down to textures.
Eating cornstarch does not cause anemia. It is the other way around, anemia is linked to people having the urge and craving to eat cornstarch.
To stop eating cornstarch while you are craving it can be difficult. If the urges are that strong, it is best to seek medical advice. However, if you are eating something like chalk you can find natural alternatives that are not at all harmful to your body. This does not stop it but makes the whole ordeal a lot safer for you.