Conquering Food Allergies: My Journey to Food Freedom


Read the inspiring journey of Evan Upatham, a high school senior from San Diego, who remarkably overcame his severe nut allergies. Evan’s story is a testament to resilience, perseverance, and the transformative power of medical innovation with the Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP) at Food Allergy Institute (FAI).

Overcoming the Odds

Like many food allergy families, Evan’s allergy journey began with a constant fear of life-threatening reactions to nuts:

Before I joined the Tolerance Induction Program (TIP), I was severely allergic to all nuts, particularly peanuts. I remember what life was like back then: A culinary minefield. I was always scrutinizing food labels and asking about ingredients. But despite my best efforts, those pesky nuts somehow managed to find their way into my body. 

Evan vividly describes the terrifying experience of allergic reactions and the fear and isolation that follow them:

If you’ve ever experienced an allergic reaction, you know the misery that unfolds: The suffocating tightness in your throat, infuriating itch in your mouth, hives everywhere, and other horrible things I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. And with each passing second, my parents were swallowed by anxiety and helplessness, fearing I would slip into anaphylactic shock. My unpredictable reactions ruined what should have been fun moments, like movie nights, family vacations, sleepovers, and more. In short, living with my allergy was far from fun. Taking measures to avoid these scary allergic episodes was just as agonizing. Sitting alone at the peanut-free table, bringing my own cake to birthdays, and carrying my Epipen everywhere were all too common. And say goodbye to classic treats like PB&J’s or Reeses Pieces– those were nothing more than far-fetched dreams. Between having reactions and trying to avoid them, orienting my life around my nut allergy was a constant physical and emotional battle.

Discover essential tools, including Epinephrine Auto-Injector Training and more, at the Food Allergy Institute’s Community Resources page.

Yet, a glimmer of hope emerged through the Food Allergy Institute’s Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP). Despite initial skepticism, Evan and his family embarked on a journey guided by FAI’s expert team in 2019:

I thought I was going to suffer from my allergy for the rest of my life until I learned about the Food Allergy Institute. I must admit, I was skeptical. I couldn’t fathom how I could go from a deathly allergy to full tolerance. Nevertheless, in 2019, my family and I decided to take a leap of faith and joined the Tolerance Induction Program (TIP). During my first visit to the Long Beach clinic, I had a blood draw to measure my IgE levels and see how allergic I was to certain foods. I was shocked to discover how high they were, especially for peanuts, which were literally off the charts. However, the doctors still promised me that I could overcome my allergy, and I trusted their word for it.

Building Tolerance with Biosimilar Proteins: Food Allergy Institute’s Distinctive Approach

TIP is not an exposure therapy like OIT. With the Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP), patients build a tolerance to their allergens through the escalation of food proteins similar in structure to their allergens (biosimilar proteins). This means patients can safely desensitize their immune system before they ever begin dosing their allergens:

My first challenge food caught me off guard—a bowl of 64 chickpeas, to which I was barely allergic. How could this possibly help with my nut allergy? As it turns out, chickpeas and peanuts are part of the same “food family” known as legumes. The brilliance lay in gradually introducing my body to chickpeas, familiarizing my immune system with peanut proteins without triggering an allergic reaction. This same concept extends to other common food allergies like soy, milk, eggs, shellfish, gluten, and the list goes on.

Facing the Ultimate Challenge

Amidst Evan’s triumphs, peanuts remained his most difficult challenge. As he recalls:

Peanuts have always been my biggest nuisance. As an extremely popular ingredient, they were the culprit behind most of my allergic reactions. Plus, peanuts are what I am most allergic to, as proven by my off-the-chart allergy levels. In short, it came as no surprise to me when I started struggling with my peanut dosage.

Despite challenges along the way, Evan remained determined to overcome his allergies. Getting his body to accept peanuts posed a formidable hurdle, and after a few setbacks, Evan’s spirit began to falter. However, the unwavering support of the Food Allergy Institute team and the transformative potential of the program kept Evan hopeful. 

I couldn’t shake the reasons that initiated this journey. I couldn’t bear the thought of returning to square one, especially since I was so close to finishing the program. Plus, the Food Allergy Institute assured me that I could reach remission with the help of an adjusted dosing plan. After realizing the support system I had around me between my family and Dr Randhawa’s [FAI Founder] team, I decided I would complete the allergy program, one peanut at a time. My decision paid off. Over time, my body began to accept the increasing doses. Before I knew it, I was on 20 peanuts, then 32 peanuts, then 40. I also had more blood draws, which showed tremendous progress. It seemed like I finally got over the hump. The doctors, who were tracking my progress, seemed to think so too. After 2 years of eating peanuts, they approved my final challenge.

A Monumental Moment

In 2023, Evan’s hard work and commitment paid off as he faced his final challenge: 52 peanuts. As he remembers:

In July, I went into the Long Beach Clinic for what was hopefully my last challenge visit. I did my routine height, weight, and blood pressure check before the doctors came in with a huge stack of peanut M&Ms. One by one, I ate all 52 peanuts. I remember my stomach feeling like it was going to burst, but I managed to finish them all. With my belly full, I did the exercise test and then sat back on the patient’s bed to be monitored. I anxiously awaited a reaction, but none came. That day, I became 1 of 8,000 to have completed the allergy program! The doctors gave me the all-clear, and I walked out of the clinic greeted by cheers, a goodie bag, and of course, a huge packet of Reese’s Pieces. Now that I’m in remission, I realize how far I’ve come. From being deathly allergic to peanuts to now eating 52 of them is nuts!

After eating 52 peanuts without reaction, Evan successfully graduated from the Tolerance Induction Program™ and achieved Food Freedom, or the ability to eat whatever, whenever, without restriction:

I am extremely grateful for what the allergy program has done for me. “Food freedom” once seemed like a myth, but it is now my reality. And if I can do it, anyone can!

His journey from adversity to remission serves as an inspiration to all those battling allergies worldwide.

See our inspiring “Monumental Moments Made Here” video:

The Journey to Food Freedom

The path to overcoming severe food allergies is not a short one, but it’s a journey worth taking. Similar to other long-term medical treatments like orthodontics, the FAI’s program requires time, commitment, and patience. The process involves gradually re-training the body’s immune system to accept foods that once triggered an allergic reaction. It’s a tailored approach, recognizing that no two immune systems are the same, ensuring that each child’s unique body chemistry is considered. In the words of Evan, if he can do it, “anyone can.”

Watch as our founder, Dr. Randhawa, explains how TIP is revolutionizing the treatment of food allergies:

Have questions or ready to get started? Schedule your free virtual consultation now!

About the Food Allergy Institute (FAI):

Established in 2015 by Dr. Inderpal Randhawa, the Food Allergy Institute (FAI) is a state-of-the-art clinical care and research center at the forefront of revolutionizing food allergy treatment. Building upon a decade’s worth of diagnostic data, the institute’s pioneering Tolerance Induction Program (TIP) offers a specialized treatment, empowering children with food allergies to attain “food freedom.”

This article was sponsored by the Food Allergy Institute.
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