The family of an eight-year-girl who is battling a life-threatening condition has revealed how she survives on a diet of tomato soup, spaghetti hoops and dark chocolate mints.

Lara Williams-Lourenco suffers from methylmalonic acidemia (MMA), meaning that any protein she eats becomes toxic and could kill her.

The youngster, of Croshaw Close, Lancing, even fell into a coma when she was four days old because of the protein contained in breast milk.

Last January The Argus told how Lara had to be fed the vitamins she needs to survive through a gastric tube and doctors feared her condition would worsen as she aged.

But now specialists at Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH) said the eight-year-old was one of the most resilient patients they had seen with the rare metabolic-condition, and is able to eat her favourite foods on her own.

Lara has to eat 90% of her food through the tube, but is allowed a few treats.

Lara's mum Julie said: “She can eat fruit and vegetables and she can have sugar-based things, but one of the unexplained traits of her condition is that the children with it do not seem to want to eat so she has a tube for feeding with a low-protein formula because she does still need some protein to survive and grow.

"She likes bizarre things like a particular brand of tomato soup, spaghetti hoops and dark chocolate mints.

"If she did eat normally, the acid and proteins would start poisoning her and damaging her organs "Basically she would be poisoned by her own food.

"She can't really have protein. So no meat, fish or dairy.”

By a one in a million chance, Mrs Williams-Lourenco and Lara's dad Jose, are both carriers of the faulty gene that causes Lara’s condition.

Lara's metabolic consultant at Great Ormond Street, Professor Stephanie Grunewald, said the youngster had a remarkable resilience to the high levels of acid assaulting her body.

She said: "There are a whole lot of different symptoms with this condition.

"Long term problems mean the high levels of acid can affect developmental delay, cause muscle weakness and damage the kidneys.

"It is the kidneys that suffer most and will result sooner or later in kidney failure.

"The longer the patients live, the more problems we encounter as they get older."