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Why does cake icing make me sick?

Cake icing can sometimes cause stomach upset or other digestive issues for a few different reasons:

1. High Sugar Content

Most cake icings and frostings contain a lot of sugar. The high sugar content can pull water into the digestive tract via osmosis, causing diarrhea in some people. The added sugars may also feed bad bacteria in the gut, leading to gas, bloating or other GI issues.

2. Fat Content

Buttercream and other icings made with butter, shortening or cream contain high amounts of fat. Eating large quantities can overload the digestive system and lead to nausea, cramps or loose stools.

3. Food Intolerances

Some individuals may have intolerances to ingredients in icing such as:

  • Milk – lactose intolerance
  • Wheat – gluten intolerance
  • Soy – soy allergy
  • Eggs – egg allergy

Even small amounts of these ingredients can trigger digestive upset in sensitive people.

4. Food Additives

Preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners and artificial colors added to pre-made icings may also cause issues for some:

  • Xanthan gum
  • Guar gum
  • Artificial colors like red #40 or yellow #5
  • Propylene glycol

Reactions can include gas, bloating, cramps or loose stools.

5. Eating Too Much

Consuming large amounts of rich, sugary icing or frosting can simply overload the digestive system. Stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea can result.

Solutions If Cake Icing Causes Digestive Issues

Here are some tips to prevent cake icing from making you sick:

  • Limit portion size – only eat a thin layer of icing
  • Avoid icing altogether if intolerant to common ingredients like dairy, wheat, eggs
  • Read labels and avoid products with artificial additives
  • Choose icings made with less sugar
  • Opt for icings based on ingredients you tolerate like meringue or whipped cream
  • Take digestive enzymes to help break down lactose and other compounds
  • Consume slowly and have icing with other foods to blunt blood sugar spike

When to See a Doctor

Consult your physician if cake icing causes:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Blood in stool
  • Dehydration from diarrhea or vomiting
  • Significant unintentional weight loss
  • Ongoing digestive issues lasting more than a few days

You may need testing for food allergies, intolerances like celiac disease or lactose intolerance, or other underlying digestive conditions.

The Bottom Line

Cake icing and frosting can sometimes wreak havoc on your digestive system due to their high sugar and fat content, common allergens, food additives and tendency to be eaten in large quantities. Pay attention to ingredients, portion size and your own tolerance levels. Seek medical advice if icing causes persistent GI troubles.