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Keep your cheese habit healthy

Eat cheese in moderation (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

When I came home from England recently, I left the kiddos there, livin’ it up with family for a few more weeks! It was good timing as it turns out. My arm is out of the cast and although it’s not straight yet, it’s pretty functional. I can do all my mom jobs now and I am so ready for the girls to return. It’s funny how the chaos drives me crazy but I desperately miss it at the same time. I think parenting is like that – a constant state of get-me-out-of-here at the exact same time as knowing that there is nowhere you would rather be!

At 13 and 11, the girls are now in charge of packing their own stuff. This has been a blessing and a curse. Way less admin from my perspective, but Belle did arrive in England with a scarce amount of clothing and an enormous stuffed toy pug. Both the girls are into crystals and they have been collecting them as they see the sights and visit family. I’m fairly confident their cases are now full of boulders. They did visit Stone Henge but hopefully, they didn’t pack the actual stones. I wouldn’t put it past them.

I’m trying to resist celebrating their homecoming with a whole host of treats. It has been a summer packed full of sugary treats as it is – it’s just impossible to avoid it as you meet up with family and everyone celebrates. I did find the UK really hard from a sugary drinks perspective. At home we just don’t have juice or soda in the house. I learnt really early on that it’s much easier to say “we don’t have any” than “you can’t have any”. You just can’t argue with the former!

Some people are lucky as they just don’t have a sweet tooth. My Mum is like this. She is so happy with one square of dark chocolate a day. I do find though that the not-sweet people are often the cheese people! Meaning that they have a hard time keeping cheese within healthy boundaries. I would rather be battling cheese-cravings any time over sugar-cravings, but I still have some handy hints for you! If you think your cheese habit gets the better of you, then here is how to get it under control.

Keep your cheese habit healthy!

Moderation, moderation.
 Ok, so what is moderation here? Opinions vary widely. The American Heart Association recommends no more than three servings of cheese daily, with each portion being no more than 42g. That may sound like a lot but 42g is a fairly small portion. I do actually steer most clients away from cheese (or at least dilute their habit – see below) as I find people do so much better on plant-based fats vs. animal-based fats. However, there’s no doubt that cheese can be a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin A, B12, zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin. If your cheese is grass-fed, then you should get a decent dose of omega 3 fats too. If you’re neither allergic nor intolerant, then I would say that a small daily dose of quality cheese can be healthy so long as you don’t overdo the other fats in your diet too such as deep fried food, chips, fatty cuts of meat, and so forth.

Easy on the sodium

Cheese can be high in sodium. If you are watching your sodium intake then note that the harder cheeses tend to be higher in sodium. Go with small portions and reduce other salty foods. Watch for hidden sources of sodium such as stock cubes, sauces and cured meat/fish.

Go organic

In my opinion, choosing organic, grass-fed dairy is a must. “You are what you eat” but “you are what you eat, eats” too. It doesn’t make sense to eat food that comes from a sick or poorly nourished animal. Organic cheese has much higher quality, omega 3 fats. Corn/soy fed cattle produce cheese that is much higher in Omega 6. Most of us have way too much Omega 6 in relation to our Omega 3. It is this imbalance, as well as an overall omega 3 deficiency, which is thought to contribute to disease.

Easy on the vegan “cheese”

If you are allergic/intolerant then it’s tempting to replace your dairy cheese with vegan alternatives. However most of these options are incredibly processed, pretty unpalatable and while they offer you an “alternative”, they are not actually very healthy. Of all of them, I prefer the Kite Hill almond cheeses and the Miyokos cashew cheese but even these are a hard sell. Instead, try making a different kind of switch. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on your pasta instead of Parmesan, and use hummus on your crackers instead of cheese.

Round out your cheeseboard

If you are making a cheese board, one way to make things healthier and encourage moderation is just to round it out with other options. Load it up with pistachios, grapes, berries, tamari almonds, dried apricots, hummus, guacamole, olives/tapenade and hummus/veggies too. You can still have the cheeseboard experience but get in tons of other healthy and delicious options too.

Stay hydrated with water

Cheese will make you thirsty because of the sodium – as will olives/tapenade/hummus and salty nuts too for that matter. Try and stay hydrated with water versus too much wine though as otherwise the dehydration will kick in and make you feel sluggish and irritable. I am absolutely loving the Spindrift and Waterloo seltzer waters this summer!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION, BNTA is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda or instagram @naturalbda.

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Published August 27, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated August 27, 2021 at 10:37 am)

Keep your cheese habit healthy

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