The Cheese Addiction
I just wanted to declare to the world that the cheese obsession is seriously real! And as it turns out, cheese has a substance that is also found in hard drugs, which could cause additive qualities.
This may not new news, but it is a conversation I seem to have again and again when I talk about being vegan.
Since changing to a vegan diet a couple years ago, the one thing I have struggled to give up is cheese. I eliminated dairy butter, cows milk and eggs in my diet from the very beginning and easily, but why can’t I give up cheese?
This staple food is such a common ingredient quite a few everyday recipes. Pizza. Jaffles. Mac and Cheese. Lasagne. Jacket Potato. Nachos. Most vegetarian meals have cheese as the core ingredient bringing the dish together.
Experimenting with vegan cheeses and making my own, nothing quite compared to the real stuff and some little thing just keeps me coming back for more.
As it happens, it turns out it’s not just the melty, salty, deliciousness that keep my cheese addiction strong. Turns out cheese may be as addictive as hard drugs.
Scientists from the University of Michigan have found that cheese contains a chemical also found in addictive drugs. After measuring a person’s dependance on certain foods and why they have a addiction quality, they have found that cheese is particularly potent as it contains casein.
This substance, which is present in all dairy products, trigger the brains opioid receptors which are linked to addiction. Casein breaks down in your stomach producing the peptide, casomorphin (an opioid) and acts as a histamine releaser (which is why people are also allergic to foods containing dairy).
Robbie Clark, a dietician and sports nutritionist told HuffPost Australia, “Opioids are natural or synthetic substances that act on opioid receptors in the brain to produce morphine-like effect.’
The chemical becomes concentrated when in a solid dairy form, so you get a higher hit of addictive casein when you eat cheese rather than softer dairy foods like yoghurt, milk or butter.
The study found that processed food (and of these the top ranking foods contained traces of cheese) are associated with this addictive behaviour, and fatty foods are the most difficult to give up.
Dietician and nutritionist, Rosemary Stanton states that the, “Claims that cheese stimulate the same part of the brain as some drugs are not backed by evidence,” advising HuffPost Australia, “Addiction requires withdrawal symptoms which need to be more than just thinking that cheese would taste good.”
The fact that cheese is often mixed with fatty processed foods which have a high salt content could explain why we have such a high craving for foods that use cheese, such as pizza, burgers and processed ready meals.
Whether is is a craving or an addiction, I have an sickening aftertaste when I do eat foods containing cheese. It may be the knowledge of how cheese is made or the saturated fat, sodium and calories I have just devoured.
Can you give up cheese for 1 month or have you already removed cheese from your diet ? If you do try this experiment, please comment how you feel, was it easy, what set you off?
I am going to give it another go and see how long I last, so will report back!