Christmas makes a mum-of-three ill due to her extreme food intolerance.
Donna Wren, 46, of Galgate, is thankful however as she said: “At least food can’t kill me as I don’t suffer an anaphylactic (potentially fatal) reaction!”
When she sits down at the table on Christmas Day with her children, Donna can eat chicken or turkey, potatoes (but not cooked in animal fat), and some vegetables.
But if she ate cabbage or sprouts, mince pies or Christmas pudding, (which contain dried fruits) she would be crippled with stomach pains and diarrhoea.
She can’t have chocolate or alcohol either, a staple of most people’s Christmas food and drink.
Donna, who has her own first aid training business, but also volunteers at Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service, said: “The problem started when I used to live in Spain. I had horrendous pain and was rushed to hospital. They told me to cut out all different kinds of foods and go on a strict diet.
“Things started to get better but as time went on I thought ‘I’ll include this and that’ and things started to go backwards.
“I thought I had IBS or was a coeliac. I had to eliminate things but what do you start with?
“I had food testing done and in the end there was a list of things I couldn’t eat.
“I could have cried because it was everything I like.
“Some days I have to give in because it would be impossible to eat.”
When shopping, Donna has to check every label to ensure she is not allergic to it and eating out can prove difficult.
She said: “It is quite difficult (when buying food) because you have to read everything.
“The new legislation brought in by the EU requiring restaurants and takeaways to inform customers about specific allergens is a good idea.
“Sometimes I think ‘I can’t be bothered with this’ and I know what its going to do to me, but I’m so ill afterwards.
“It is quite hard work but at least I’m not anaphylactic and food could kill me!”
Restaurants and takeaways are now required by law to tell customers if any of the top 14 allergen ingredients are present in the foods they serve. It is hoped these changes will bring about a reduction in the number of allergic reactions caused by people accidentally eating food they are allergic to.
On average 10 people die per year due to allergic reactions.
Food Donna is allergic to:
Coffee, tea, chocolate, any dairy,
wheat, pork, lamb, vinegar or sauces, eggs, yeast, Chinese food (unless homemade), lentils,
beans, pulses, cabbage, spinach,
iceberg lettuce, sugar,
peppers, chocolate drinks,
fizzy drinks, citrus fruits, dried fruits,
kippers, prawns, peanuts,
tofu, celery, alcohol.