Identifying and Coping With a Tomato Intolerance or Allergy

Updated on December 26, 2019
Stove And Home profile image

Tomatoes make me sick! I have been living with a tomato intolerance my entire life.

Do you have a tomato intolerance or allergy?
Do you have a tomato intolerance or allergy? | Source

Tomatoes make me sick! It's a funny thing; sometimes the foods you love make you ill. I have been living with a tomato intolerance my entire life. This means eating pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna their traditional way is near impossible for me. If you suffer from a tomato allergy or intolerance, you no doubt have the same issues and have experienced a number of symptoms related to it.

The easiest way to handle such a condition is to use tomato substitutes in the recipes you love. I was delighted to know that there are ways to eat foods with a tomato taste without all the nasty side effects. Ajvar is the best substitute I have found, and I've become almost addicted to it. It lets me get my Italian food fix without missing too much flavor.

But do you know which you have: an allergy to tomatoes or an intolerance? In some cases, you can have both.

Patient suffering from a sore throat.
Patient suffering from a sore throat. | Source

The Difference Between an Intolerance and an Allergy

  • Allergy: Symptoms usually have a quick onset after eating the trigger food in any amount. Effects of eating the trigger food can be dangerous and occasionally life-threatening.
  • Intolerance: The severity of illness is usually in direct proportion to the amount of the trigger food eaten. For example, a tablespoon of tomato sauce might not make you feel sick, but a full spaghetti dinner will. The more of the trigger food you eat, the more likely you are to become ill.

Tomato Intolerance Symptoms

It usually takes many hours to many days after eating the trigger food to experience any of the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Losing one's voice temporarily
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Sinus congestion
  • Illness similar to the common cold, yet not contagious
  • Permanent tonsil swelling (especially in cases where trigger food has been eaten intermittently over the course of one's lifetime)
  • GERD (because of acidity)
  • Leg cramps/charlie horse

Tomato Allergy Symptoms

In most cases, immediately after eating the trigger food, onset of one or more of the following can happen:

  • Rashes
  • Swelling: often tongue, roof of mouth, lips, or one side of face
  • Hyperventilation
  • Puffiness under the eyes
  • Acid reflux

Mashed avocado dip.
Mashed avocado dip. | Source

Tomato Avoidance Tips

  • Don't eat most soups from cans, in restaurants, or those that others prepare without being aware of your allergy or intolerance. Tomato products are often added for flavor or consistency to a bevy of common soup recipes. Soups like chicken noodle, New England clam chowder, or split pea and ham are safe bets.

  • Practice extreme care when ordering beef dishes. Tomato or tomato products are often used to heighten the flavor of sauces or gravies in these meals.

  • In Italian restaurants, order garlic and white wine sauce or Alfredo on any dishes that normally have tomato sauce on them. To eat pasta sauce at home that tastes like tomato sauce, try a mild pepper sauce. I especially like to use this type of sauce when making cabbage roll-ups with ground beef. I just dilute the sauce with a little bit of water to slightly thin it.

  • In place of salsa, mash up avocado and add a bit of salt to use as a tortilla chip dip.

  • Be careful when eating anything red that you didn't prepare yourself!

Tomato Poll

Do you or someone you love have a tomato intolerance or allergy?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • What about if every time you eat something with tomato based products, you have sulfur burps, and have diarrhea and throw up? How do you get rid of that?

    This sounds like your body's natural reaction to tomato and as far as I know there is no way to get around this except to not eat tomato products.

  • I have a tomato-based product allergy. I can be around someone that's eating something that contains tomato-based product and I'll have a tingling sensation that goes thru my skin and I'll have hives to break out on that side of my body, it'll eventually go throughout my body even my hands. The palms of my hand will have hives and fingers swell. I've had anaphylactic reactions as a result of exposure. Can you tell me why this my tomato allergy is happening? Is there a common name for my allergy? Can it be treated?

    I am not a physician, so I cannot answer your questions authoritatively. But it sounds like you are hypersensitive, having a severe allergy. There are children who are not able to withstand the smell of peanut butter without having an allergic fit. If the tomato product they are eating is cooked/steaming it could be giving off a smell that is palpable to your system. I do not know of any specific treatments.

  • If I get itchy red lips after eating tomatoes or any tomato based product, does this mean I have tomato allergy?

    Yes, it sounds like it.

  • Is it possible to be allergic to only tomato sauce, but not tomatoes?

    I don't think so, but I think you could have a stronger reaction to tomato sauce because it has a very concentrated amount of tomatoes in it. If not, you could be allergic to another ingredient in the tomato sauce.

  • I really have an allergy to the tomato plant. I get hives, itchy eyes, sinus problems, etc. Is it possible that I can eat tomatoes without any problems?

    I think if you are allergic to the tomato plant it means you should not be eating it or any forms of tomato, like ketchup, etc. You can try a close substitute to still enjoy a similar taste, however.

© 2013 Stove And Home


Submit a Comment
  • Stove And Home profile imageAUTHOR

    Stove And Home 

    7 years ago

    Me too! Be careful and Bon Appetit :)

  • annajazz profile image

    Anna Marie 

    7 years ago from New Mexico

    I'm not alone!lol....

    I have a really bad reaction to tomatoes.

    And It can be hard to stay away from them, since they are everywhere.

    -Great Hub :)

  • Stove And Home profile imageAUTHOR

    Stove And Home 

    7 years ago

    Thanks Anatomy!

  • anatomynotes profile image

    Edmund Custers 

    7 years ago

    Tomato is one of the most commonly used vegetables. So, these are very useful tips for people with tomato intolerance and/or allergies.

    Thank you for sharing.


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