Some people have multiple food allergies that make it tricky to find foods that are suitable for them to eat and provide enough nutritional variety. For such individuals, it can definitely feel like they are allergic to virtually all food!
But a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE) causes the body to treat all food as if it were a foreign invader, essentially making the individual allergic to all food.
EOE symptoms usually begin in infancy or childhood and range in severity, but usually include difficulty swallowing, vomiting after meals and a failure to thrive.
The Top 8 food allergens are believed to be the main triggers of EOE episodes, and an elimination diet can help pinpoint problematic foods. Some people can eat certain foods with typically mild reactions, such as a persistent, itchy rash. Other people must get all of their nutrition via a feeding tube.
Medications such as steroids can be taken to relieve some of the symptoms associated with EOE. A small number of individuals with EOE will outgrow the condition, but most will experience it for life.
Another Possible Way to Be Allergic to All Food: FPIES
Then there’s another scenario that catches many new parents off guard. Imagine this: you decide it’s time to offer your infant his first few tastes of solid food. You mash up some peas, and your baby gums them down with curiosity. You’re so proud to have reached this milestone!
A couple hours later, your baby starts to vomit … and he can’t stop. You rush him to the doctor, who tells you your baby appears to have FPIES: Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.
The name itself makes it sound like all food is problematic. And for a baby who is just starting to eat solid food, most of their already-limited options are indeed off the table.
The common FPIES triggers are rice and oats, plus chicken, milk, barley, soy, squash, sweet potatoes, peas and green beans. Most of these foods are commonly introduced to infants who are transitioning to solid food.
Proteins Cause Allergies
The immune system only responds to proteins found in foods. Theoretically, a spoonful of sugar or oil would not cause a reaction in someone with EOE or FPIES. That means even someone who appears to be allergic to “all” food should be able to find some calories. Whether or not a balanced diet is achievable is something to discuss with a doctor.
In short, if your child regularly vomits shortly after eating, has allergic reactions to multiple foods or appears to stop growing, talk to an allergist or pediatrician as soon as possible.