Skip to main content

The Cheese Trap

photo by Alexander Maasch

The Cheese Trap

Do you have cheese on the brain? No, it's not your imagination. Let's just say, la fromage is a bit habit forming. Cheese contains the protein casein which turns into casomorphins. As our bodies digest casein, casomorphins latch onto opiate receptors in the brain causing a mild or not so mild addiction to cheese.

Downfalls of La Fromage

What's so bad about being a cheese-head you might ask? Not surprisingly, it's a major form of saturated fat closely rivaling the best marbled steak. For the same reason people avoid gluten, they should avoid casein. Studies have shown that gluten sensitive folks can be sensitive to cheese as well. Many are not even aware of an intolerance to lactose since the signs can be as subtle as indigestion. Unfortunately, cheese equals mucus which will make you unpopular at parties. 

What's the Good News? 

It's trial and error finding a replacement for the ooey gooey richness of the real thing. Experiment with different brands of vegan cheese on the market until you find one that's appealing and not resembling wet cardboard. Steer clear of ingredients with coconut oil or coconut cream since they're high in saturated fat. 

Keep in mind there are numerous alternatives beyond fake cheese, or the semblance thereof, so don’t feel beholden to it. Healthy fats in small quantities like avocado, nuts, or seeds may bring back that velvety goodness to your taste buds. Cashews or almonds can be combined into a sauce or put into a mold for slice-ability using plant milk, herbs, and a bit of agar agar. Try replacing your favorite dips or salad dressings with hummus, tahini, nuts, or seeds. The choices are endless. 

If you're limiting fat in general, use protein packed cannellini beans, silken tofu, or nooch (nutritional yeast) for a creamy texture sans the guilt. While olive and avocado oil are healthier, begin with whole foods such as beans, grains, and seeds - they provide nutrients as well as fiber to break down the fat in your body.


Crowding Out the Bad

Invite other foods to the party as a way to crowd out cheese and the whole host of its dairy friends. That's where lean proteins, beans, grains, and veggies, particularly cruciferous ones, come in. They are nutritionally dense, low-cal options. As for dessert, bananas provide a sweet creamy texture which can be the base for many recipes. Try blending a frozen banana with a bit of plant milk and berries for delicious nice cream

Retrain Your Brain   

Stick with the plan and your taste buds will change significantly in a few weeks. Rewiring your brain to enjoy healthy foods starts with eating them frequently while avoiding the bad ones. Remember the tofu you hate today, may be the tofu you love tomorrow. 

Popular posts from this blog

Andy Warhol - Pop Art Superstar

Cassandra Wilson: Un-Standard