Can you have too much of a good thing? It is an age-old conundrum of cheese-lovers everywhere. Cheese, with its rich and often creamy profile, is downright heaven-sent, but we have taught ourselves to fear it because it causes health problems and obesity, right? Well, yes and no. Some cheese, particularly the mass-produced variety, is often high in saturated fat and salt, but it is also rich in calcium and protein. Avoiding cheese altogether—despite how much we crave it—can lead to overindulging and a very guilty conscious. Instead, research shows that enjoying cheese as part of a healthy, varied diet actually benefits the gut microbiome. Great news, as overall health starts with a healthy gut!
I used to be one of the people that restricted rich foods, including cheese in my diet. It escalated into an eating disorder, where my physical and mental health suffered dramatically. But, thankfully, I made it out to the other side. I learnt that for a lifelong sustainable, healthy diet, you can—and should—include natural, wholesome, foods. Whether that’s cheese or chocolate. If it is unprocessed, it does wonders for your wellbeing in moderation, not least because it makes us happy.
How to include cheese as part of a healthy diet
1. Quality over quantity
When it comes to cheese, always opt for high-quality. Traditional cheesemakers respect the product and process. Farmhouse and Artisan cheeses (aka Fine Cheeses) contain milk from happy animals and are often made by hand. They also tend to be unprocessed, natural and generally better for you and the planet.
2. Little and often
We are human and have desires. For cheese-lovers, it’s cheese. Don’t make it the forbidden fruit in your diet. Treat yourself to it in small amounts regularly and you’ll get the pleasure of cheese without the guilt.
3. Everything in balance
Too much of a good thing—whether it is exercise or Comté cheese—is neither good for you nor sustainable. The answer is finding a balance and enjoying everything in moderation. I live by the rule that 80% of my diet should be for promoting health and 20% for pure pleasure.
Be present. Never eat on the run, especially when it comes to enjoying things you love. Sit down and try to use all five of your senses. Mindful eating is the way.
Okay, I hear you say, but what if even a small amount of cheese concerns me when it comes to my health? Well, in that case, here’s more on the health benefits of eating Fine Cheese in moderation.
Health benefits of Fine Cheese
1. Good for the gut
A recent study suggests fermented cheeses contain probiotics—friendly bacteria that feed your gut microbiome—which can promote a clear mind and even boost your energy levels.
2. Packed with essential nutrients
Fine Cheese is rich in nutrients like protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A, B2 and B12. These play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body, like fortifying bones, teeth, skin and eyes.
3. Actually good for the heart
Several studies have shown that moderate amounts of Fine Cheese can actually help lower your blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack in some people. The calcium in it speeds up the excretion of fat and some compounds have been found to have anticarcinogenic properties.
4. No artificial ingredients
No chemical preservatives, hard-to-pronounce ingredients, or nasty E numbers, just nutritious wholesome milk, naturally occurring enzymes and small amounts of salt. Nothing unnatural.
5. It makes you happy
We know the taste of it is pure joy, but cheese has been scientifically proven to make us happy! It contains the amino acid Tyrosine, which helps make us feel content, while the fats in cheese encourage the brain to make dopamine—the feel-good hormone.
So, although cheese-fear is real, avoiding it completely isn’t fun for anyone. Life is there to be enjoyed! Instead, be conscious. Regularly treat yourself to high-quality Fine Cheese in small amounts as part of a healthy, varied diet. This gives you immense joy while reaping all of the health benefits. You make the cheesemakers happy, too! ‘We are what we eat,’ it’s true. But it is also about how we eat and making conscious choices for quality.
The Cheese Lady x
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