Monday, 15 June 2009

Say cheese

You'd think that someone who ate virtually nothing but cheese would be really unhealthy. How could you possibly get all the nutrients you need? And wouldn't you be begging for a heart attack?

But it seems that Vicki Zukiewicz is quite healthy on just such a diet. The only things she can stomach apart from cheese are the odd potato, hunk of bread or slice of pizza (with cheese topping). Yet she's alive and well.

She says the texture or taste or smell of anything else turns her right off. No matter what delicious meal her husband is eating, she won't touch it. Try as she might, she can't overcome her engrained aversion.

It creates huge problems when she's socialising. In fact she avoids any social occasions involving food and usually eats at home, where at least her phobia is understood and allowed for.

Naturally everyone tries to psychoanalyse her, asking her what childhood experience brought this on, and diagnosing all sorts of fancy conditions. But she pooh-poohs them and says that's just the way she is and there's no rhyme or reason for it.

I do wonder how healthy she really is, though. Does she have regular medical checks to confirm her physical fitness? Is she a normally energetic, alert 32 year old? Or is she storing up trouble for the future?

I've heard of people with similarly limited diets before - and they were surprisingly healthy too. There was a boy who ate only marmite sandwiches and apparently came to no harm.

It seems awfully sad though that she finds so many tasty foods utterly repugnant. I can't imagine going without the fantastic flavours and aromas of all my favourite dishes. I would feel bereft, diminished, shorn of an essential everyday pleasure.

And much as I like cheese, eating it non-stop would smother its appeal pretty quickly.

Photo: Vicki Zukiewicz

PS: Cheese has more nutrients than you might think, including calcium, phosphorus, protein, amino acids, vitamin A, the B vitamins, iodine, magnesium, zinc, sodium, aluminium, nickel and selenium.


  1. Nick,

    You are a vegetarian. I would find that a difficult way to live since I enjoy my meat, fish and poultry.

    I abstain from dairy products because the cause me health problems. Mind you the sight of a nice cream cake gives me almost lustful thoughts!

    My youngest brother would eat no vegetables or fruit when he was young... he is not much better nowadays. His diet consisted of potatoes & gravy, and buttered wheaten bread with sugar sprinkled on it. There was one exception (always one!) He loved sliced beetroot in vinegar.

  2. Nick, mental blocks and some allergies force people into such diets. I have a close relative who has only unseasoned/spiced, boiled rice, lentils, vegetables and yoghurt, day in day out without any harmful effect. She does have tea with milk but nothing else. She has been on this diet for the past forty years after she went on it following an attack of severe jaundice.

    Personally, I can eat a lot of cheese, but not like this lady can.

  3. Grannymar - Your youngest brother's former diet sounds very unnutritious. I hope it's a bit broader now! I'm not very keen on cream cakes myself, a bit too sickly.

    Ramana - Your relative's diet sounds more varied and fairly healthy. But it's amazing she's stuck to it for 40 years without being tempted by anything else.

  4. I am a cheese fanatic, but even I have to say...only cheese? Oh goodness. Sounds pathological...

  5. Leah - It's pretty strange, isn't it? How did she come to dislike so many different types of food? It does sound pathological, but then again it may be some identifiable metabolistic oddity....

  6. Gosh, who'd think it had all those minerals? I like lots of different cheeses but, I would so miss a good curry, fresh soft fruit and, of course, chocolate!!! (and much much more)

  7. Suburbia - I love curry, fruit and chocolate too. Particularly since they're all suitable for vegetarians!

  8. Yep, a bit over the top although sometimes people have natural aversions to foods, that's why a lot of children don't like peas. I do know people who don't eat anything green! My body craves greens if I've not been paying attention to my diet. I'd love to know what her cholesterol count is! Haha . your capture is 'exsess!

  9. How about gluten intolerance, it limits the eating experience so much, although gluten free foods are getting diversified and multiplying on the shelves.
    I couldn't live on just certain foods, only meat or only vegetables, or only cheese. Although quite often I feel like I could live on salad/soup alone, I know deep down there is no way.
    I feel sorry for people who are limited in the variety of food they can eat due to allergies and health issues.
    If it's by choice, well, what can I say, it's their choice.

    PS: How's the new home and exploration in the new area going?

    PS2: word verification: strynge (strange with a weird accent?)

  10. I'm a vegetarian too, with some degree of lactose intolerance, but I try to make up the nutrients I don't get from one source by getting them from another.

    Eating only cheese sounds both bizarre and unhealthy. Her cholesterol must be through the roof, and she will probably develop diabetes at some point.

    I suspect she has deeper issues than a mere food preference.

  11. Baino - Precisely, has Vicki's cholesterol level ever been measured? I can't see how it could be normal.

    GayƩ - Gluten intolerance must be a real nightmare, it rules out so many everyday foods. We're settling into our new home very well, but it's somewhat disorientating after 9 years living somewhere else! Still checking out the local eateries to find the tastiest ones....

    Heart - A vegetarian diet is healthy enough because there's a huge range of meatless foods with all the necessary nutrients between them. And it reduces global warming.

  12. Cheese???

    So does she do Swiss on Sunday, Feta on Monday, Brie on Tuesday... Oh goodness, I feel bad for her. I like cheese but gosh, I'd be sick of it if that was all I could really stomach!

  13. Liz - Or maybe mozzarella Monday, tilsit Tuesday, wensleydale Wednesday, tyrolean Thursday, fetta Friday....I bet she's sampled hundreds more cheeses than I have. Unless she sticks to cheddar of course.

  14. as a veggie it's tooe easy to overdose on cheese isn't it, especially if you love it as much as I do - I make an effort to limit my intake and vary my diet - as you said there are so many different wonderful foods out there!

  15. Conor - True, it's very tempting to grab something cheesy without thinking of other options! And I'm always perplexed by people who say there's hardly anything vegetarians can eat.

  16. I love cheese but it has to have nice bread and grapes with it! Well, it doens't have to but i'm trying to be sensible about eating it. Vitamin C and iron seem to be the most obvious things missing from the ingredients.

    By the way, school dinners - lucky you! Ours were gross.

  17. Liz - Cheese with bread and grapes, yummy! As you say, iron and vitamin C are conspicuously lacking. She could always take tablets of course.

  18. Nick:
    Our bodies are so, so adaptable, aren't they. One of my kids got picky when a toddler and refused anything she thought was 'dead', long story (Milk was dead, for example) and the only thing she could handle was peanut butter. The paeditrician said she was fine and healthy when I was so worried. it lasted about 6 months.
    I've known chronic undereaters (200 calories/day) who were healthy and then there's the air-eaters I read about one time who are supposedly healthy.
    Cheese is a good way to go...;^)

  19. www - Only peanut butter for six months, that's amazing. I guess it shows how adaptable our bodies are and how they can improvise from whatever's available. But air-eating, I still can't fathom that one out!