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Identifying and Coping With a Tomato Intolerance or Allergy

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?

Can You Be Allergic to Tomatoes?

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.

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.

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!

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

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: Can you have an allergic reaction to pasta sauce and not to pizza?

Answer: I would say no. But if you have an intolerance to the sauce, perhaps having a lesser quantity of it, as on a slice of pizza, would cause less of a reaction than if you were to eat a larger quantity of sauce, for example on pasta.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

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

Answer: 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.

Question: Is it common to get canker sores in your mouth from eating a couple of fresh tomatoes?

Answer: I don't know if it is common per se to get a canker sore/mouth ulcer, but it happens to me too, especially if I eat a concentrated tomato product, like marinara sauce. It happens to me the more acidic the food is. So you are not alone in this.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: Is it common to have an itchy skin rash on legs after eating tomatoes?

Answer: Yes, you can have an itch reaction if you have some kind of intolerance or allergy to tomatoes. It could also be due to something else. Make sure to see a doctor if you have an active health concern.

Question: Can tomato sensitivity affect the bowel?

Answer: Yes, it is possible.

Question: I've noticed I swell up like a balloon, get indigestion, headache, stomach cramps, and skin rashes every time I eat fresh tomatoes, in any amount (ketchup seems ok), or french fries... And it takes me a week to get better. Guessing I've developed an allergy? :( I like tomatoes.

Answer: Could you be allergic to them uncooked?

Question: I am 25 and lately I have been observing whenever I eat tomato my whole body just itches and I get rashes. Am I allergic to tomato ?

Answer: Yes, tt sounds like you could have an allergy.

Question: Is intolerance due to tomatoes being in Nightshade family?

Answer: Sometimes but not always. Personally my intolerances are citrus and tomato only.

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

Answer: Yes, it sounds like it.

Question: Can it be possible to be allergic to the sulfites that occur naturally in tomatoes, if you have existing sulfur allergies?

Answer: That sounds like a possibility.

Question: My husband made me some chicken pasta with organic tomato sauce and I woke up fine. But in the mid day I felt like I was coming down with a cold. My tongue felt worried. I took some probiotics and I felt better. Could this be allergic reaction to tomatoes?

Answer: You could have an intolerance if it is a time-delayed reaction. Also, see if there is anything else you ate that could have caused the reaction.

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