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?
Sod it. Give me the cheese.