Smile and say, "No-Cheese": Why Cheese is so Darn Addictive and Can Cause Mood Distress

 I, for one, absolutely love cheese, and there are many of us cheese lovers out there! So, what exactly is it that has us going back for more and more of this sometimes, "stinky as feet", food?

 Let’s Start at the Beginning

 While information about lactose, (a form of sugar in dairy), and the many digestive problems it can cause is fairly well known, there is still not much mention regarding casein, (the dairy protein).

First and foremost, human beings are not intended to consume the nursing milk of calves, lambs, or kids. Calves especially grow into 1,200lb cows and their mother’s milk is what helps them get so large and heavy. Imagine what drinking and eating cow dairy with its lactose, casein and other elements can do to your body size?

Moreover, unless you eat cheese made from the milk of healthy free-range, pasture-raised animals, you will be ingesting anti-biotics, growth hormone, (yikes!), stress hormones, and puss! Puss results because the animals are being overly-milked by machines. The harshness and excessive usage of these machines cause the animals' teats to become sore and infected. Consequently, puss frequently mixes in with the milk we eat and drink.

Back to why we can't seem to stop eating cheese: Addiction Potential

 1)      Milk contains a small amount of morphine, an opioid. (Opioids are narcotics and are highly addictive.) This natural, low-level content of morphine in milk helps to assist the mother-child happiness bond while nursing. This same morphine can cause an addiction in us.

 2)      Furthermore, casein, (the milk protein), when digested causes the release of opiates, (casomorphins), which penetrate the blood/brain barrier. When cheese is made, much of the liquid, (whey), is removed. (It takes 10lbs of milk to make 1 pound of cheese.) Therefore, the denseness of cheese significantly increases the quantity of opiates we consume. It's no wonder that cheese beckons many of us in perpetuity.

 3)      To make matters more intense, cheese also has phenylethylamine, an amphetamine-like chemical. If you're not sure what an amphetamine is, think speed. It's a stimulant that impacts our central nervous system and can cause anxiety, depression, aggression, etc. Plus, amphetamines have potential for becoming an addictive drug. 

Opioids, (heroin being 1 of the most famous), are well-known for causing feelings of euphoria. If one is casomorphin sensitive, as I am, your brain is influenced to feel great while you're eating cheese. However, after or in between cheese consumption, there is the opioid, or casomorphin withdrawal. In other words, when we stop eating cheese, it isn't long before we want more; lots more. 

As amphetamines influence our moods, so too do opioids. This includes casomorphins in cheese.  And this is the crux of this article. Many of us overeat cheese because we are plain and simple, addicted. Almost always without realizing it, of course. When I take out a block of cheese, my intention is to have a slice or 2. What happens instead is I easily consume close to 70% of the block. Ugh! 

I feel unhappy because I've eaten too much cheese, and I feel anxious, depressed and irritable because of my brain's interaction with the casomorphins. And, on top of everything else, I'm jonesing for more cheese! (Addiction really causes mad responses!)

Identifying Cheese Addiction and What to Do

If you're not sure if you're casomorphin sensitive, think about what happens to you, or not, when you have a piece or 2 of cheese. Is that enough? Do you go back for more? If you consume more than you'd like because it's so hard to stop, than you just may be addicted to cheese as well. 

If you would like to eat cheese but not in excess, it may be helpful to think about a strategy that would work best for you. Becoming mindful and alert can go a long way. One of my techniques is to not bring cheese into my home. I eat cheese only when I'm out of the house. Just this 1 small habit change has brought my cheese consumption way down. Consequently, I feel generally lighter and less tense.

I encourage you to give some thought to your relationship with cheese for the benefit of your physical and mental health. Too often we run for anti-depressants when feeling down or stressed. Unfortunately, while anti-depressants can be of help, many people gain a significant amount of weight from their use. Weight gain and increased body size frequently adds more fuel to the fire when it comes to feeling down and stressed.

By gaining awareness of the correlation between what you eat and how those foods impact your body and mood, you can set a much broader stage of understanding when it comes to taking care for optimal health!

 If you have any questions, please let me know. 

 If you've enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and family!  Thanks!



Addiction to Cheese is Real Thanks to Casomorphins, yum, 4/25/2011


Breaking the Dairy Addiction, Soul Searching Vegan, 3/14/2011