Say Cheese

March 7, 2009

Recently I asked: “If there was one food you couldn’t live without, what would it be?”

Well, as you can guess from the title, my answer is cheese.  Cheese has always been a staple in my diet, and I’ve never really noticed myself having an adverse effect to it.  After assessing my diet, I’ve calculated that there have been only short amounts of time that I’ve gone without it.  What is it about cheese that has made it become such a mainstay in my diet?  What puts cheese in a category of the most craved foods, along with sugar, chocolate, ice cream or meat?  Is it simply the taste, or is there something more?

Did you know that researchers have found that there’s more to the appeal of cheese than taste.  It has been found that cheese and other dairy products actually contain chemical compounds no one ever suspected were there – mild opiates that are released during digestion.  Therefore, if they stimulate the brain in such a way, you can easily see why someone would continually crave such a food and keep it as part of their diet.  Even while gaining weight or having health problems.

So what do we make of these scientific studies that say there are certain foods, like cheese, that have enough of an effect on your brain to get you hooked?  Well, most people do nothing.  And that may be fine if they aren’t experiencing adverse health conditions or are trying to lose weight.  But what if you have an unknown food allergy, and your body in turn craves the very food that it’s allergic too?  This is not as uncommon as one would think.

Perhaps this is an indication to do a little experimenting of your own.  Would it kill you to eliminate one of these foods, say cheese, for a given period of time?  (I’m currently doing just that, eliminating cheese from my diet, and I will continue to post how it goes.)  Is 21 days such an eternity?  Not really.  And it’s enough time for your body to experience what it’s like functioning without that food.

The key here is not so much the elimination of the food, but it’s re-introduction back into your diet.  After going a few weeks without it, you can assess your reaction to it when you re-introduce it.  How does it really taste, now that your taste buds have gotten a break from it?  How does it make you feel after eating it?  How do you feel hours later?  The next day?  Do you have energy, or are you fatigued?  Do you have clarity of thought, or brain fog?  What roll is this food playing in your daily functioning?

You have to accept that some foods cause a downward spiral for your system, and yes, your beloved cheese may be one of them.  You must purposefully take action to break that food habit and see if any of your physical problems start to go away.  And only you can decide whether or not it’s worth sacrificing whatever changes necessary to see desired results.

Remember, you don’t have to go at this alone.  You are not the only person in which a food like cheese acts like a narcotic.  Your brain’s pleasure center wants you to eat, this is something we all experience to a degree.  For some it is heightened with certain foods.  That’s a reality.  These food experiences provide pleasure and your brain releases a bit of dopamine, the brain’s main pleasure-producing chemical.  Fortunately, dopamine is central to virtually anything that feels good -exercise, interacting with others, even sex. So there are plenty of places to get a fix of it. You don’t have to fight reality,but you may have to hold the cheese

One Response to “Say Cheese”

  1. Great blog title – love “Nutrition Addict”!

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