REBECCA Yourell, of Evans Head, isn't going to let a little thing like eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE, stop her nine-year-old son Jacob from having a normal life.
"It's a chemical sensitivity where Jacob's immune system is too active," she said.
"When the body receives food, it sees it as a foreign object which it needs to get rid of."
Rebecca said the way our bodies would react to inhaling a toxic gas was how Jacob's body reacted to normal smells of some food, let alone eating them.
Some of those reactions including vomiting blood, blisters in the mouth, reflux and rashes.
"There are only 18 foods Jacob's body can tolerate," Rebecca said.
"They include pears, cauliflower, pasta, chicken and rice."
Shopping for the Yourells was hard for the first 12 months after Jacob was diagnosed with EoE when he was 2½ years old.
"We all go without certain foods.
"We don't eat eggs, as even the smell could hospitalise him."
Even then, trips to the hospital are still a two or three times a year occurrence.
"The biggest issue we have is mowing grass. He's been in hospital twice because of his reaction to it.
"In summer we shut the house up and put on the air-conditioning so he's not affected."
Despite such a limited diet and the need to be vigilant around food, the Yourells are determined Jacob will have a normal boy's life.
"When I was a child with asthma, I wasn't allowed to do anything.
"We make sure Jacob can do whatever he can while he is fit and healthy, because there may be a time he won't be."
With that reasoning, Jacob plays soccer and football and is involved in nippers, swimming and surfing.
"We also have supportive friends who make allowances whenever we go camping with them," Rebecca said.
For more information on EoE, visit ausee.org.