Is Cheese Addictive

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Samuel Anthony
Sep 9, 2022
A cheesy pizza slice with strings of cheese stretching

Cheese addiction is real.

As a nutritionist, one of the most common questions I get is:

“How do you give up cheese?”

Often people say they wish they could go vegan but can’t bring themselves to give it up.

There is no doubt something about cheese has a hold on many of us, making it very difficult for some to make the switch.

A cheese shop display

What makes cheese so addictive?

Chemicals in cheese can bind with parts of the mind and body and bring about similar effects to certain hard drugs.

According to Dr T. Colin Campbell, a protein found in milk called casein is a relevant cancer promoter in cheese. [1]

When we break this same protein down, we produce drug-like casomorphins which “attach to opiate receptors in the brain and cause addictions to dairy products”. [2]

Pomegranate seeds with crumbled cheese

Cheese is the product of fermenting and curdling milk.

The milk of a mother cow attempting to feed her baby.

Like humans, after a mother cow feeds her baby, the baby will often fall asleep or enter a restful, trance-like state.

These same opiate-like compounds that help send a baby off to sleep could be the same reason cheese is an addictive substance.

A cheeseboard with bread, pretzels, cheese and grapes

Why is cheese more addictive than milk?

While milk is mostly water, cheese is primarily solid.

Manufacturers reduce the water content of the curdling milk to make cheese during the process.

For this reason, you need a lot of milk to make cheese, and with most of the water removed, you end up with a very potent milk concentrate.

More milk means more casein, and while casein is in milk, it does not compare with the amount of this harmful substance found in cheese.

“The more casein you eat, the more casomorphins are produced, and the harder it is to give it up.” [3]

Hard round cheese wheels

So the reason you are struggling to give up cheese is simple.

Cheese impacts reward signals in the brain and can become addictive due to the effects of the casomorphins. [4]

Simply put, your brain feels good. You can begin associating this with cheesy food, making it even harder to stop eating these foods.

Round blocks of cheese on white tray

How to Stop Craving Cheese, according to Veganuary [5]

  1. Don’t quit cold turkey
  2. Avoid vegan cheese…for now
  3. Replace cheese with something else
  4. Find your reason why
  5. Explore vegan cheese when you’re ready

Take time to transition, as sudden changes will cause more problems, and you will likely rebound.

Do not expect to find a vegan cheese that tastes the same as your favourite type - at least not until you are over the cravings.

Rather than try and replace like for like, explore something different.

Remind yourself of the reason why you do what you do. If it’s moral or for your insides, keep it in mind to motivate yourself because every mouthful matters.

Sources & References

Plant-Based Nutritionist & Fitness Coach
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