Eating Cornstarch While Pregnant (Pica Syndrome and Ways to Manage It)

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Eating or craving raw cornstarch when pregnant is a symptom of pica disorder. It could happen because you lack essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. Some pregnant women may develop pica disorder due to hormonal changes, stress or anxiety, cultural beliefs, and mental health conditions. Raw cornstarch may be safe to consume in small amounts but can mess up your blood sugar levels, heart health, and digestive tract. 

Pregnancy can result in a multitude of changes in your body. 

You’ll experience intense mood swings, swollen feet and ankles, lumpy breasts, and weight gain.

Your body typically undergoes these changes as it prepares to support a growing baby inside your womb.

Along with these changes, many women have also noticed unusual hunger cravings and desires to consume nonfood items.

Why do I crave cornstarch?

Many pregnant women tend to have odd cravings during pregnancy.

One primary reason is that their bodies undergo significant changes, and the demand for certain nutrients, such as iron or calcium, increases.

If the body is not getting enough of these nutrients from their diet, it may result in food cravings that are high in those nutrients. So, craving starchy or crunchy foods, such as cornstarch, may result in your body’s need for more carbohydrates or other nutrients. 

While this commonly happens, some even want to chow down on nonfood items. If you experience this symptom, you might have pica disorder. 

You can be diagnosed with this condition when your symptoms last for about a month.

What is pica disorder?

When you consistently crave nonfood items with less to no nutritional value and such symptoms last for at least a month, you could suffer from pica disorder.

Below are examples of nonfood items that most pregnant women with pica disorder crave:

  • Ice
  • Paper
  • Clay
  • Dirt
  • Metal
  • Pebbles
  • Soap
  • Chalk
  • Baby powder
  • Ash
  • Cornstarch
  • Uncooked rice or grains
  • And many others

What causes pica disorder?

There are no exact causes why pregnant women may experience pica disorder. However, several factors are linked to this condition. 

Below are the following factors that may cause a pica disorder:

  1. Nutritional deficiencies – Some study suggests that pica disorder is linked to iron deficiency and anemia. It commonly affects most women during their first trimester. Pregnant women who are deficient in iron may constantly crave ice or dirt.
  2. Hormonal changes – It can impact a pregnant woman’s sense of smell and taste, influencing her food preferences and cravings.
  3. Stress or anxiety – It can trigger cravings for certain foods or nonfood items.
  4. Cultural or social factors – Some cultures believe consuming nonfood items can have cultural or health-related benefits, resulting in pregnant women developing pica disorder.
  5. Mental health conditions – Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and developmental disabilities are some mental health conditions that may contribute to pica disorder.

Remember to seek help from a healthcare provider when you’ve been craving or eating nonfood items to get a diagnosis and receive a treatment plan immediately. 

Pica disorder can possibly threaten the growth and development of your baby. Additionally, chowing down nonfood items may make you ill or, even worse, give you other health complications. 

These include infections, dental problems, stomach irritation, a blockage in your digestive tract, vomiting, and weight loss. 

Is it okay to eat cornstarch?

Cornstarch has high calories and carbohydrates but contains low protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

It’s a common food ingredient that adds thickness to your soups, stews, and sauces. 

Cornstarch is also an important recipe for pie fillings, baked goodies, and other fried and crispy dishes.

Did you know that eating raw cornstarch keeps some people’s hunger and cravings at bay? You might also have heard it helps manage blood sugar problems and diabetes.

However, eating cornstarch isn’t that healthy. 

Most doctors don’t recommend eating it raw because of its low nutritional value and high glycemic index, which may cause your blood sugar to spike. 

Eating it raw may also result in gas and bloating. It may not be harmful in small amounts, but regular consumption can negatively affect your body. 

What happens when you eat cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a good ingredient to add to your dishes, especially when you want to increase your caloric intake. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t change the flavor of your soups, stews, broth, and desserts. 

When you eat cornstarch, your body can digest it quickly, which causes your blood sugar to spike up right after eating it. 

So, unlike whole-grain foods, cornstarch doesn’t keep your blood sugar stable nor give you prolonged energy. 

Most people only add about 1-2 tablespoons (8-16 grams) of cornstarch to their soups and sauces. 

Consuming cornstarch while pregnant is generally safe. However, cornstarch has its downsides. 

Below are the following:

1. Increase your blood sugar levels

Cornstarch is a refined carb with very low fiber content, meaning it has a high glycemic index, which your body can digest quickly. As a result, it can spike your blood sugar levels.

2. Put you at risk of heart disease

Many studies have shown that regular consumption of refined carbs may harm your heart health. 

A diet rich in refined carbs and foods with a high glycemic index may increase your risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 

3. Little essential nutrients

Cornstarch doesn’t provide healthy amounts of nutrients other than calories and carbohydrates. 

Even large amounts of it only provide very small amounts of micronutrients. 

So, pairing this ingredient with other nutrient-based food is very important to achieve a healthy balanced diet.

4. Digestive problems

Raw cornstarch may cause unpleasant digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and constipation. It may also result in abdominal pain

That’s why cooking or heating cornstarch may help it break down for easier digestion.

Consider only eating cornstarch when cooked or added to dishes to avoid harboring harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.

What can cornstarch do to your baby?

Consuming cornstarch to satisfy your odd cravings while pregnant may not be harmful, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. You can still be susceptible to a foodborne illness. 

Remember to see your doctor promptly when you crave nonfood items during pregnancy. 

Also, ensure you’re chowing down on food-grade quality and small amounts to avoid possible complications. 

You must know that whatever you eat will provide nutrition for your baby. 

As much as possible, don’t chow down on raw cornstarch. Instead, only use it as an ingredient to include in your dishes.

3 ways to manage cornstarch cravings

There are ways you can manage your unusual and nonfood cravings and ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs to support your growing baby. Below are the following:

1. Supplements

Your healthcare provider may recommend specific supplements or dietary changes to address these deficiencies and help manage your cravings for nonfood items.

For example, if you have an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend an iron supplement or iron-rich foods to include in your diet, such as red meat, beans, and leafy greens. 

Your doctor may also recommend prenatal vitamins and supplements to provide essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. These may include folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. 

2. Healthy foods

Look for healthier options that satisfy your cravings, such as starchy or crunchy foods high in nutrients, like sweet potatoes, whole-grain crackers, or popcorn.

Cornstarch cravings may be due to your body’s increasing need for carbohydrates. Incorporate healthy carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet.

Additionally, your body needs extra protein during pregnancy to maintain a healthy immune system and support your growing baby.

Protein can also be a good source of iron and zinc. Protein-rich foods include lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. 

3. Practice self-care

Engage in activities that help reduce stress and anxiety, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation, as stress can trigger cravings.

Talk to your doctor about the exercises you can do while pregnant.


1. Does cornstarch cause yeast infections?

No, it doesn’t. Researchers have found out that cornstarch doesn’t cause nor worsen yeast growth.

There are already sufficient nutrients in our skin that are favorable for yeast growth, provided there is enough moisture.

2. Does cornstarch help yeast infections?

No, it doesn’t help with yeast infections. Talcum powder won’t help too.

Taking probiotics, doing saltwater rinses, applying coconut or tea tree oil, and taking antifungal medications are effective ways to treat yeast infections.

3. Is starch suitable for babies?

Starchy foods provide energy for babies as they are essentially carbohydrates.

It helps babies to feel fuller for much longer. But doctors don’t recommend feeding your infants starchy foods for long as they can be hard to digest.

It’s not until after 6 months that you can start your baby feeding solid and/or starchy food with, of course, consultation from his pediatrician. 

4. Is cornstarch powder good for babies?

Yes, it’s safe for babies if you use it with care to avoid choking from inhaling the powder.

You can use cornstarch as a safe alternative to talcum powder to keep your baby’s skin dry, clean, and comfortable. 

5. Can you feed cornstarch to your baby?

Don’t feed raw cornstarch to your baby, as they might be unable to digest it. But, it’s generally safe to include it in their meals, given that it also contains other nutrient-dense ingredients.

Don’t only feed cornstarch-based food to your baby, as it may lead to malnutrition.

Additionally, if your family has a history of allergies to corn or cornstarch, it’s better not to feed this to your baby.


Cornstarch is indeed a staple for every soup and fried recipe. It adds thickness and creaminess that makes our meals appetizing and savory.

Some pregnant women may crave raw cornstarch, which is generally safe when consumed in small amounts. But such nonfood cravings are a sign of pica disorder.

You can manage your unusual cravings for nonfood items by adding supplements, incorporating healthy carbohydrates, protein-rich foods, and other healthy foods into your diet, and looking after your mental health.

It’s important to avoid eating raw cornstarch because it’s not nutritious and may put you at risk of harboring foodborne illnesses or digestive problems.

Please check with your doctor immediately if you experience nonfood cravings.



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Reana Jean Cuevas
Mabuhay! I'm Reana Jean Cuevas. A healthy body means living well with no worries-just happiness and more life adventures. Taking care of my body and well-being is an investment for my career and future. I was a volunteer at the Philippine Red Cross. I joined the training to become a first-aider and be able to provide other health and safety services in my community. I love discussing anything but mainly first-aid, home remedies, and women's health.

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