The one thing I’m asked being vegan is, “how did you stop eating cheese?” followed by, “I could never give up cheese, I love it too much, and there is no way I am going to stop eating it.”
That’s what I thought too, but the truth is, is that I was addicted to cheese.
Americans consume over 35 pounds of cheese per person, every year. Whether it’s consumed with crackers or wine, on pizza, in sandwiches, on burgers, sprinkled in omelettes or salads, cheese is something most people refuse to give up. But with the ethics surrounding the dairy industry, and our health in mind, many people are trying to find ways to quit. It can be a little difficult in the beginning, however, because our brains literally become addicted to cheese. And that’s all thanks to a chemical compound in cheese called casein.
What is Casein?
Casein is a protein found in all milk products, which breaks apart slowly during digestion and turns into casomorphin. Casomorphin is a natural morphine-like substance, which acts like opiates in the body as they slowly enter the bloodstream. These opiates attach to opiate receptors in the brain, which is the main cause for addiction and the reason why people keep coming back for more. Casein has even been compared to heroin in terms of their strength to cause food addictions and emotional imbalances.
Not only that, but casein puts huge strain on the digestive tract, which results in issues ranging from mucus production, digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin problems like acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes and other dermatitis types.
According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, casein is the most pertinent cancer promoter ever discovered. That, combined with lactose sugars, animal proteins and saturated fat in cheese (and other dairy products) triggers IGF-1 in the body, which is linked with several different cancers.
5 Easy Steps To Kick Your Cheese Addiction
1. Eat enough of the right foods
If you eat enough of the right foods, your cheese addiction will be much easier to kick. Satisfy your cravings with real, whole, plant-based foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables that are high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals that will shut off the hunger signal and provide your body with what it really wants and needs.
It only took my body 1-week until it was completely un-addicted to cheese. I actually completely forgot about it. It may take people longer, but 2-weeks is usually enough. The first few days will be very hard, but if you stick to your intentions and know you are doing your body good, then you can do it!
3. Get rid of all cheese products
Just like when someone is trying to get healthy and lose weight, getting rid of the things in your home that trigger your cravings is key. That’s why when you decide to give up cheese products, getting rid of all cheese in your house is a must. If you really want to get rid of your cheese addiction, then getting rid of all products that include dairy-related ingredients will be key to your success. If you live with other people, then let them know that you are doing this so you can ask them for some emotional support.
4. Ask yourself why
Why are you wanting to give up cheese? Is it for the ethics, the better digestion, better skin, weight loss, or all of the above? Once you set your intentions, you’ll have a goal to work toward, and the chances that you slide back into your old dairy-eating ways will be diminished. When I gave up dairy my digestion and skin improved dramatically, and this was the main reason I stuck with giving it up (the second reason being the horrible ethics behind it).
5. Try cheese substitutes
There are so many cheese substitutes out there – I would suggest trying to stay away from the soy-based cheeses, and stick with those produced by companies like Daiya or those made from rice milk. There are many flavours available too like Harvest Smoked Cheddar, and Spicy Pepper Jack.
If you need more reasons to ditch cheese and other dairy products, check out this article I wrote on the health effects dairy has on the body – it’s a must-read!