Meet the woman who is allergic to Christmas: Turkey, wine and pigs in blankets are all off limits

By Anna Edwards


As millions of people tuck into their festive treats on December 25, spare a thought for Becky Irvin as she faces a miserable meal - because she is allergic to Christmas dinner.

Becky, 33, has been banned from the year's most anticipated meal for 15 years after discovering she is allergic to the main ingredients.

Turkey, stuffing, gravy, pigs in blankets, wine and sweet treats are all off-limits for the university administrator, who suffers a host of allergies, so instead she’ll be stuck with her dry beef and veg.

Festive frown: Becky Irvin will have to eat her meal of sprouts, carrots and corned beef and as gravy on the meal brings her out in a severe allergic reaction

Festive frown: Becky Irvin will have to eat her meal of sprouts, carrots and corned beef and as gravy on the meal brings her out in a severe allergic reaction

She discovered she is allergic to yeast, eggs, sugar and fish and ever since has steered clear of yuletide treats.

She said: 'Due to the yeast extracts in turkey, stuffing, gravy and alcohol I can’t have any of that.

'This year I’ll be having a measly bit of dry beef, with potato, veg and no gravy because of the yeast. I don’t really like veg either but it’s one of the few food groups I can get away with.


'I'll then be faced with everyone else’s plate piled high with all these delicious Christmas treats which I can’t have unless I want to feel horrendous.'

Becky, of York, discovered her problem when she was 18 and realised she was getting poorly while feasting on traditional Christmas fayre.

She said: 'I knew what would happen. I would get terrible bloating in my stomach and then stabbing-like pains, headaches, fatigue and sickness would follow.

'At Christmas, I would often eat and drink more than usual and so I was always particularly ill around this time of year.

Christmas cheer: Becky always has to pick the most bland dish on the menu when she goes out for festive dinners

Christmas cheer: Becky always has to pick the most bland dish on the menu when she goes out for festive dinners

'I was 18 the last time I had turkey with all the trimmings and my stomach bloated so much it looked like I was six months pregnant. It’s a good job we could laugh about it but that was when I decided to get tested.'

After being wrongly diagnosed with appendicitis, Becky, who works at the University of York, took a food intolerance test which found she was allergic to yeast, eggs, sugar and fish.

She said: 'The results from the food intolerance test rubber-stamped that the food I was eating was making me ill.

'It meant I wasn’t able to eat many of the foods I enjoyed, or drink any alcohol, but at the same time it was just nice to know exactly what foods were to blame.

'Egg is often used to bind sausages and obviously sugar in sweet treats is off limits, so it means I’m left with very few options for Christmas dinner.

'They use a traffic light system to grade how allergic to foods you are. I was graded red for many of the ingredients in a turkey dinner, which was why I was having such a bad reaction.

'At the office party or when I go out with friends during the Christmas period, I always have to pick the most bland dish on the menu.

'This year I might indulge myself with a small glass of wine or a piece of Christmas cake but I know I’ll have to pay the price afterwards.'



The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Have a big glass of dry Vodka honey! At least you won't have to worry about shedding Holiday pounds.

Click to rate     Rating   34

There is no yeast in fresh turkey.

Click to rate     Rating   118

I know the feeling dear - I am vegetarian and coeliac - so no fish, fowl, meat or seafood for me - nor anything with wheat, rye, oats or barley either as they contain gluten - to which coeliacs are intolerant - or even anything that might have suffered cross contamination in a factory that produces other foods containing gluten. I spend half my shopping time reading labels to make sure the item is safe for me to eat - ALL YEAR ROUND not just at Christmas!

Click to rate     Rating   35

Where is the story in this? Mlllions of Vegetarians will not be eating turkey or fish for Christmas dinner but some kind of vegetable dish instead. They won't even be eating corned beef. So what is the point of this story? It's stupid.

Click to rate     Rating   119

I'm sorry (that just comes with being British), but since when DM, did we start calling the humble sausage roll a 'pig in blanket'? That is what our American cousins call them, not us Brits.

Click to rate     Rating   16

Just read the lables: there's no Marmite in a turkey, if you get good bangers they don't use egg, and you can make gravy without buying it.

Click to rate     Rating   87

There are some tasty vegetarian alternatives that would look and taste better than the plate of bland vegs,

Click to rate     Rating   26

Yeast Extract is not Yeast it is, however, something sneaked into bland food to give it a kick. I am allergic to it too, it's not always printed on food they put it under mixed Herbs or flavourings which it isn't. I began with allergies at 18 but no-one believed me in those days. It took an Anaphylactic shock to prove it. I'm allergic to Pine Benzophenone 3 which is in Perfumes, Hairsprays, Nail varnish etc. etc. & Sun Screens. I've never gone to the Press about it because at the end of the day People think it's a Joke !! Infact when I've commented previously they are not printed regarding ALLERGIES, I bet this one won't be.

Click to rate     Rating   12

I count myself very fortunate that I'm not allergic to any food or drink at all and feel very sorry for those who are. It must be so restricting.

Click to rate     Rating   15

News, why? Am sure there are thousands of people in the Uk who have allergies which mean they also can't eat what they'd like to. I am celiac so can't eat a whole lot of things either. Maybe I (and others with the same allergies) could tell our stories to the papers too. Slow news day DM?

Click to rate     Rating   49

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