First person: 'I don't eat anything except cheese' - Profiles - People - The Independent

First person: 'I don't eat anything except cheese'

Vicki Zukiewicz, 32

I love everything about cheese: the food, the texture, the smell. Unfortunately, it's the only food I eat – unless you count bread and potatoes, which I can only just stomach if they're smothered in layers of cheese.

Whenever I tell anyone this, the first thing they do is blame my mum and dad for allowing me to have such a limited diet, but really there was only so much they could do. They always ate very healthily and wanted me to try what they ate, but from the start I didn't like the smell or the taste or the texture of food – except for cheese.

My parents did what any parents would do in their position: they told me I couldn't leave the table until I cleared my plate. But their power became limited as I got older. I started hiding meals, throwing them away, or flushing bits down the loo. Then I'd fill myself up on bread and cheese in secret.

Telling someone that you only eat cheese inevitably elicits a bad reaction. People usually think I'm a freak. Some try to psychoanalyse me, to uncover what made me this way, before attempting to change me; it's often assumed that I simply haven't ever tried good food, but that's just not true.

For most people eating is a real pleasure and trying new food is an adventure, but for me it is something of a nightmare. I can't stand the texture or the taste, so every day is like "Groundhog Day". I eat three meals and no snacks. For breakfast, I have cheese on toast; lunch is a cheese sandwich with cheese-flavoured crisps, and for dinner I'll either have a jacket potato with cheese or a plain cheese pizza. With that I'll have fizzy water, or wine in the evenings. Ironically, my husband adores trying new food. If someone put a grub in front of him, he'd have a go. He is a fantastic cook, and loves to eat out, but we can't go to a restaurant together because we'll inevitably end up having a huge row. When we do, I sit there with just a drink, watching my husband eat his meal, and every time the same old argument flares up.

My food phobia is the bane of my life. I have to avoid any social occasions involving food, and my eating causes big problems for our family. It's not that I'm concerned it will have an adverse affect on my child's own habits, as some have suggested. My daughter has a great appetite and loves every type of food. But I can't be in the same room as her and her dad when they're eating, so they eat together in one room, and I eat in another. It means we miss out on proper family time.

It's also a real pain having to explain myself all the time. The only occasion I didn't feel guilty about what I ate wa s at my wedding because it was my day and I could behave how I liked. My husband organised a big feast, with beef Wellington for the guests and I had a baked potato with cheese. Everyone there knew me so well that no one thought anything of it.

As the night went on, I drank rather a lot of wine but obviously didn't have much in my stomach to soak it up. My mother-in-law, bless her, whisked me upstairs and pulled out of her bag a picnic she'd made me especially. It was a really classy moment – there's a picture of me in my wedding dress, on a chaise-longue, eating cheese crisps and a sandwich.

At times like this I have to laugh at my condition, but other times I feel like it's ruining my life. It's a bit like being an alcoholic: I have to take each day as it comes. I would love to change my attitude towards food. Sometimes it feels like I'm turning a corner, but the next moment it seems as if I'll be like this for ever.

At times like this I have to laugh at my condition, but other times I feel like it's ruining my life. It's a bit like being an alcoholic: I have to take each day as it comes. I would love to change my attitude towards food. Sometimes it feels like I'm turning a corner, but the next moment it seems as if I'll be like this for ever.

firstperson@independent.co.uk

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