I recently posted on Facebook that I was finally getting around to reading Dr. Neal Bernard’s book The Cheese Trap, after which several people PMed me and asked (1) if they should read the book, (2) what could possibly be wrong with cheese, and (3) what are the alternatives to cheese.
First, I love Dr. Bernard. Read all of his books if you can! He has a great ability to take complicated research and explain it simply without dumbing it down.
I personally gave up dairy almost two years ago, but I struggled to give up cheese for almost a year and a half. I knew all the reasons I shouldn’t eat it, but I would cheat and eat pizza or a calzone anyway.
I would wake up for the next 2-3 days with sinus and joint inflammation, and my weight would jump 4-5 pounds. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. But I would still do it.
I was addicted to cheese. 🙁
And I’m not alone. A lot of people know that cheese is the cause of their inflammatory issues or weight gain or high cholesterol, but they just can’t give it up. This book explains why.
The long and short of it is that milk is biologically designed to be mildly addictive, so babies want to nurse. It’s designed to accelerate growth, so it contains hormones and fat.
When you condense all of that into cheese and add sodium as a preservative, you now have a fat-packed, hormone-packed, highly-processed, and mildly-addictive “food” that slows your metabolism, packs on the weight, and is hard to walk away from.
Thankfully, Dr. Bernard doesn’t stop there, leaving all of us cheese addicts trying to figure out what to do next. He also offers some healthy plant-based alternatives to cheese, which for me were my saving grace.
When I first started eliminating dairy from my diet, it was easy to find plant-based alternatives. There are so many options for nut milk. But cheese was still a stumbling block.
We now mostly make our own cheeses using cashews and nutritional yeast, but those vegan alternatives were the only thing that got me over my need for cheese.
Our local grocery store only carried Daiya products, which just tasted like oil to me. They didn’t melt well, and just didn’t have that great cheese taste. Then, I find Chao, Follow Your Heart, and So Delicious products in the city in the next county over.
One of my favorite meals used to be grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was a favorite of my husband’s too. Chao field roasted slices actually melted like cheese and tastes like cheese. I was able to have a healthier grill cheese sandwich.
It’s now been three months since I’ve taken my nasal steroid, and I have had zero sinus headaches. It’s been almost six months since I’ve had an issue with my rheumatoid arthritis.
I still miss pizza, but I can at least live without it now, and the health benefits have been more than worth it!