The cheese issue

Earlier this year, when my bad skin was spiralling out of control, my husband heard an item on the radio about acne. My husband rarely listens to news items and phone-ins on the radio – he listens to sport or music – but this drew him in and he started listening. A lady in her 70s called in. She’d had acne all her life and it was only at the age of 70 she’d discovered she had an allergy to dairy. She gave it up and her skin cleared.

My husband believes in fate. He believes it was fate that made him listen to the radio that day. He thought he’d found the solution to my problems. I had to give up dairy!

As it happens, I don’t really have dairy anyway. The thought of milk makes me feel sick – I literally couldn’t have it near my mouth. I can’t bear butter, and ice cream gives me a stomach ache.

But I really, really love cheese.

Now there may be a modicum of truth in all of this. I’d always felt that my horror of milk was a bit too extreme to be me merely disliking it. Back in 2007, when my IBS was unbearable, I sought the help of a kinesiologist. She was convinced that in sorting out my IBS, she would also sort out my acne and eczema. (I was pretty convinced she wouldn’t, and I was right!) It turns out it is possible to sort out my IBS, if I don’t eat wheat, dairy, sugar or sunflower oil, to name but a few. The downside of all this is one very hungry person. I’ve been blessed with a big appetite and a fast metabolism and I lose weight easily. Eating rice and steamed vegetables, however big the pile of rice, wasn’t keeping my hunger at bay, and my weight quickly dropped below 8 stone (I’m 5′ 6″).

So I found a balance. I eat a bit of wheat, I can’t give up sugar, I went six years without touching a chip or crisp because of the sunflower oil (I eat them occasionally now) and I eat soya yogurts. But there’s no decent non-dairy alternative to cheese.

I’m a vegetarian. I LOVE cheese.

There are very few days of the week when I don’t have cheese with something. Pretty much everything is better with cheese – spaghetti bolognese? Add cheese. Jacket potatoes? Add cheese.

When I’m really hungry, I crave cheese. It’s up there with chocolate, pasta and onions in my list of foods I could never give up.

But my husband was convinced. He really wanted me to give it a go. He genuinely believed this could solve my skin problems for good.

So I’ve given it a go. I was surprised that giving it up wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Spaghetti bolognese tastes OK without cheese. Not quite as good, but OK.

But there’s one problem. Eating out. (And I use ‘out’ in its loosest sense for any sort of sandwich or takeaway.) All vegetarian food when you’re out contains cheese. As do most of the microwave meals I was eating while the kitchen was out of action.

So I could cut down on cheese and not use it at home, but I couldn’t cut it out altogether. Unless I wanted to carry peanut butter rice cakes with me to eat while we were out and, believe me, I didn’t. If life is to come to peanut butter rice cakes when my family are enjoying proper food, just give me the cheese and the spots!

Also, this isn’t exactly a controlled experiment as I’m still on medication from the dermatologist – evil antibiotics and some nasty cream.

And has it actually worked?

What do you think?

acne, rosacea, selfie

Sod it. Give me the cheese.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. Ooh that’s and interesting theory and I’m guessing it’s one that does work for a lot of people. Has it made a difference? Can the gp give you a tolerance test? My hubby had one for his eczema and gluten is the culprit!

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    • It didn’t make a difference! Well, it was slightly better at the start, but I think that was down to being on a lot of medication. I’ve had so many tests – maybe I should ask about that. Thanks.

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  2. I would find it very difficult to live without cheese as a non vegetarian, so I can only start to imagine how tricky it would be. Maybe it’s just as well it didn’t work.

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    • Definitely! Much as I want to be rid of the spots, I didn’t want it to work!

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  3. Is it bad that I am almost happy for you that it didn’t work? As a fellow veggie I cannot imagine life without cheese – I toyed briefly with vegan ism in my youth and I missed cheese SO much! I think if I had to choose a life without cheese or a life without spots, I would live with the spots every time! 🙂 xx

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    • It’s not bad at all! That’s exactly how I felt. I couldn’t cope without cheese and would definitely prefer a few spots to no cheese (although the way my skin is at the moment, it would be the cheese that had to go!). x

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  4. i would find it hard to give up cheese, would be a night mare for you x

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    • Thanks! It’s really hard. x

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  5. When I was about 10 years old it was discovered that it was cheese giving me terrible migraines….I stopped eating it and the migraines stopped…..I didn’t eat it again until I was about 32 years old and it was a couple of slices of pizza…..Since then I have been fine and eat a little cheese but not very often….I could easily give it up.
    I’m quite glad giving up the cheese didn’t work for you…..hehehe x

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    • Wow, that’s a very long time without cheese! No wonder you could give it up now. I’m glad it didn’t work for me, though! x

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  6. If you give up cheese, there literally will be nothing of you! You certainly can’t have pizza without cheese. Nice that he was thinking of you and I know exactly what he means about listening to or reading a timely article, being for a purpose. Sadly not on this occasion 🙁

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    • Thanks! They do a vegan pizza at my favourite coffee shop down the road, but it would feel all wrong to eat that. My husband is so desperate for me to get better, because he knows how unhappy it makes me.

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  7. Oh lovely. It must drive you potty to have issues with your skin. I suffer from excema on my legs and sometimes my arms. At least you get to eat cheese again! x

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    • It does drive me mad! It’s so uncomfortable all the time. It’s such a relief that I don’t have to give up cheese! x

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  8. With the chip thing… What about cooking chips with virgin olive oil? Rather than sunflower oil? We cook ours in the actifry so only use one teaspoon of oil per batch of chips.

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    • That sounds interesting, although we don’t actually cook chips. The only time I eat them is when I’m out (which is mainly McDonalds!).

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  9. It seems cruel to have to give up cheese when you already have to restrict your diet in other ways, and like you say, if it makes no difference then why deprive yourself? I LOVE cheese. I sometimes carry peanut butter crackers and it makes me feel a bit hard done by 😉 x

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    • Thanks! Life is definitely too short for eating peanut butter crackers all the time and living without cheese! x

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  10. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning this, I TOTALLY understand how annoying it is when everyone has their own solution but my friend suffered with almost the same thing and the medications that the doctors were giving her were just making things worse. What she (eventually) identified was that palm oil derivatives were what was irritating her skin. I only mention this because I’m doing a lot of research at the moment on the harmful environmental and humanitarian effects of palm oil, and I remembered what she’d told me. Basically, in skin products, it is listed in chemical form – there is a list somewhere if you google it for all the different names for palm oil. But it’s in margarine, bread, makeup, medication, shower gel, face wash, etc etc. Anyway, the doctor was giving my friend a cream that didn’t contain it and she was fine. The company went out of production so the doctor gave her another cream that had all the same active ingredients but contained a palm oil derivative and her skin went mad, so they worked out that this was the issue. Apparently it’s what causes a lot of skin conditions like eczema and acne these days, but we’re not aware of it because it’s so well covered up by the big corporations because it’s such a cheap base oil. Totally long winded way of saying, “Have you tried cutting out palm oil?” sorry. Hope you find something that works for you soon.xx

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    • Thank you, Natalie. This is really interesting and something I’d never heard of before. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment. x

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  11. I don’t think I go a day without cheese so I can understand you must be relieved that no cheese is not the solution. It’s hard finding sometimes the best thing for helping a skin condition. I sometimes get terrible psoriasis. I found prescription medicines did nothing to help but then I discovered that whenever it started flaring up a couple sessions on a sunbed stopped it asap.

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