Woman Eats Only Two Foods for Five Years Due to Severe Allergies (Exclusive)

Caroline Cray was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome in May 2019 after repeated anaphylactic episodes

<p>courtesy of Caroline Cray</p> Caroline Cray can only eat two foods.

courtesy of Caroline Cray

Caroline Cray can only eat two foods.
  • Caroline Cray developed serious food allergies to peanuts, nuts, sesame, mustard, kiwi, seafood and various fruits when she was 2 years old

  • Over the years she outgrew many of the allergies. Then, in 2017, during her freshman year of college she went into anaphylactic shock. This led her to develop mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)

  • Since Spring 2019, she's only been able to eat two foods: oats and a hypoallergenic formula

Caroline Cray's food allergies began when she was just 2 years old.

The Boston native doesn't recall much from that time, but her parents have recounted the incident to her: she had been eating crackers containing traces of nuts when suddenly her throat began to constrict.

Rushed to the hospital, Cray, now 24, received a diagnosis of several allergies, including peanuts, nuts, sesame, mustard, kiwi, seafood and various fruits. Over the next five to 10 years, she outgrew many of those allergies, returning to a semblance of normalcy while remaining vigilant about avoiding cross-contaminated foods.

<p>courtesy of Caroline Cray</p>

courtesy of Caroline Cray

However, at 18, everything changed. During her first week of college in summer 2017 at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, she ordered an ice cream sandwich from a truck after thoroughly checking the ingredients. Two bites in, she experienced an immediate head rush.

"It felt like all the blood was rushing out of my head, and I got super tunnel vision," Cray exclusively tells PEOPLE. "So I basically thought, oh my God, I think I'm having an anaphylactic reaction."

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<p>courtesy of Caroline Cray</p> Caroline Cray takes photo in hospital after allergic reaction.

courtesy of Caroline Cray

Caroline Cray takes photo in hospital after allergic reaction.

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Cray immediately administered her EpiPen and then went to the hospital, where she was released six hours later.

But over the next few months, Cray, who's now a healthcare recruiter, experienced subsequent reactions, culminating in her landing in the intensive care unit at Boston's Children's Hospital in September 2017. There, doctors put her on immunosuppressants and told her the reactions would subside in a couple of months.

However, the allergic reactions didn't stop and eventually became so severe that Cray moved from her college dorm back home, a 45-minute drive away. Her mother became her daily chauffeur as Cray felt too weak and unwell to drive herself.

"I just felt like a ghost. I felt like nobody would really notice if I was there or not," she says. "I was really, really depressed. I didn't want to do school anymore."

<p>courtesy of Caroline Cray</p> Caroline Cray shows off her hives on her neck.

courtesy of Caroline Cray

Caroline Cray shows off her hives on her neck.

In May 2018, after enduring months of uncertainty, Cray received a diagnosis of mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. This condition, as per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, involves repeated episodes of anaphylactic symptoms.

Treatment of this diagnosis involves a low histamine diet, which eliminates foods high in histamine, including eggs, meat and avocado.

"The last six or seven years have been a bit of a roller coaster," she admits. "A few years ago, I was able to eat basically all foods except for those main allergens, like peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, sesame."

"But the last few years, it's been really, really difficult," she continues, recalling how she had to take a leave of absence from college during her junior year.

To help manage her symptoms, Cray adopted extremely restricted diets, eventually settling on her current diet in Spring 2019, which limits her to only two foods: oats and a hypoallergenic formula.

She says the formula tastes like a vanilla protein shake or vanilla milk. It also contains 57 grams of protein, 91 grams of fat, 100 grams of carbs, which help her get all of her nutrients.

"Then I have all these vitamins," she adds. "The only thing that it's a bit deficient in is sodium. So I just supplement that. I just add salt to things."

Eventually, Cray finished her junior year of college virtually, and for senior year moved back to an apartment on her college campus.

<p>courtesy of Caroline Cray</p> Caroline Cray holds up the two foods she eats.

courtesy of Caroline Cray

Caroline Cray holds up the two foods she eats.

A couple of months ago, Cray posted about her health journey on TikTok and, to her surprise, her first video went viral. Right away, she noticed people commenting with similar experiences. Others offered suggestions of ways she could be more creative with her two ingredients.

Cray has tested some of the suggested recipes, including ice cream and recreating pasta out of oats.

"My mom and I were laughing about it because for four years I was on autopilot, just heating up my oats, mixing in my hypoallergenic formula and not getting creative with it," she says. "And then all of a sudden I post about it, and now I'm in the kitchen all day."

She adds, "So much of our culture is based around food and drink, but a pro is, it makes you get creative."

Cray is working with a naturopath to reintroduce foods slowly into her diet. She says they're going to start with broccoli and then boiled chicken and then carrots.

But until then, Cray says she'll continue to add her food cravings — which are infrequent — to a list on her phone for amusement.

"It would make sense to crave things and miss food and be sick of oatmeal," she says. "But my survival brain kicks in, reminding me of the ramifications of symptoms, and frankly, it's not worth it."

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