Cheese is like that job you hate because it makes you feel shitty about yourself but you can’t stop yourself from going back every single day.
Or that toxic coworker who makes you feel terrible about yourself and your work but who you also kind of secretly admire and can’t stop trying to impress.
Let’s face it: Cheese, much like weird relationships, can be addictive.
That’s because cheese has these things called casomorphins that light up the reward center in your brain. So when you eat it, your brain goes, “Awwww yeah!” And you keep chasing that feeling because it just feels so damn good.
I should know. I chased the feeling for many, many years. I’ve talked before about cheese sticks and cheese sandwiches. And how we’ve had a tumultuous relationship rife with tummy aches and bathroom breaks.
To convince myself once and for all that cheese and I could never be friends, I recently took a food sensitivity test. No surprise here: My suspicions were confirmed, and cheese and dairy are definitely no-nos for me.
(Curious about what test I took? Check out EverlyWell here and get a 10% discount. You bet your ass that’s an affiliate link.)
Why you gotta do me like that, cheese?
So for anyone who keeps going back to cheese time and time again, even after it kicks you when you’re down and makes you feel worse about yourself, here are five quick tips for bidding au revoir to that sweet, sweet frommage. Once and for all.
Remember how it makes you feel
Does cheese make you sleepy? Or gassy? Maybe it gives you the worst stomachache, the kind that makes you feel like a gremlin (Stripe, not cute and cuddly Gizmo) is trying to tear you apart from the inside.
Do you always seem to wake up with a major breakout the morning after you dove headfirst into a cheese lover’s pizza?
You think it’s nothing, merely circumstantial evidence. You might not want to see cheese as the perp.
But a sensitivity to cheese can cause digestive troubles like burping, bloating, and bad poos; skin problems like breakouts, eczema, and rashes; headaches; and even joint pain.
Next time the cheese is calling out to you, stop and think about how it makes you feel. Maybe in the moment it makes you happy. But I doubt you’re happy three hours later when you’re in the bathroom for the third time. Or when you wake up the next morning looking all splotchy.
Try not to forget that.
Replace it with delicious substitutes
There's no shortage of ways to replace cheese.
If you’re just getting started on your ciao cheese journey, you can check out the faux cheese options. Just check out the fo’ real ingredients first.
Avocado can make a nice creamy substitute on a sandwich, and hummus makes a fantastic substitute when you’re in the mood for grilled cheese. Seriously.
Miso and tofu are options, too, although maybe better suited to the more seasoned non-cheese connoisseurs…
You can make your own, too. And it’s super easy. I’ve been known to whip up batches of queso and ricotta and Parmesan that, to me, are all cheesy in the best way possible.
There are even whole books dedicated to DIY cheese like Vegan Cheese, This Cheese is Nuts!, Artisan Vegan Cheese, The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking, and The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese and Ice Cream Recipes.
Don’t keep it in the house
It’s simple: If you don’t see it, you won’t eat it.
You have control over what you buy and what you keep in the fridge. As hard as that may be to believe.
It might be hard to forgo the frommage when you’re at the grocery store. (Tip: Don't put it on your list and only buy what’s actually on your list. And, no, frantically scribbling cheese as you stand in front of the cheese display doesn’t count.)
But once you get past the hurdle and you don’t have seven blocks in stock, you won’t be able to reach for it.
Out of sight, out of mind.
And the less you eat it, the less you’ll want it. I promise.
Phase it out
Don’t feel like you have to cut the cheese (unintended fart joke) cold turkey.
It might be tempting to wake up on some random Thursday and declare that you’ll never eat cheese again. But that’s a tall order. Especially when you’ve been eating cheese every day for years.
Don’t be afraid to cut back slowly.
Maybe you usually top your salad with shredded cheese. So you start leaving the cheese off and maybe sprinkle some nutritional yeast or veggie shreds on instead.
Maybe you always add a couple slices of cheese to your sandwich. So you slip in some faux cheese slices or replace it with some avocado.
Or maybe you always order the queso at your favorite Mexican restaurant. So you change it up and order salsa or guacamole instead. (In my opinion, guacamole wins every time anyway.)
Once you’ve got that down, you phase out another part of your cheese habit. And you keep going until cheese is a distant memory.
Request some backup
We both know you’re a grownup and you don’t need babysitting.
But it's okay to call for reinforcement when you really want to make a change.
Besides, you’re way more likely to actually do what you say you’re going to do when you have someone to hold you accountable.
Just like you're probably going to put a little more effort in to that report when you know your boss is going to read it, you’re going to give saying no to cheese a better go when someone’s checking in on you.
It doesn’t have to be a cheese cop. It can just be a friend who gently reminds you that you’ve forsaken cheese when you absentmindedly order your go-to salad. It can be someone who wants to give up cheese, too. So you’ve got a partner in no-cheese crime.
But make it someone who’s not afraid to give you a little tough love because you know your dairy-loving ass is gonna need it.
Speaking of dairy-loving asses, have you seen the Seven Simple Swaps to Save Your Dairy-Loving Ass ebook? Grab it below to see my super easy and totally doable recommendations for replacing dairy, including cheese.