Back in high school my doctor warned me about having too much cholesterol in my blood.
He said I needed to cut back on the fatty foods, but the only problem was that I wasn’t having ‘fatty’ foods! Or so I thought ….
But turns out, I was eating tons of cheese back in highschool!
- A huge hunk of Jack cheese when I came home
- Melted cheddar for quesadillas
I had this insatiable desire for cheese.
But now years later I’ve learned a few things about cheese cravings and have come to the following balance:
- I don’t buy cheese at the grocery store
- I can have cheese easily at social events
- My cholesterol is normal
So learn from my experience! This blog post will detail reasons for cheese cravings and how you can go about ending those cravings.
Here’s why you’re craving cheese and what to do about it!
Craving Cheese Reason #1: You’re Not Getting Enough To Eat
Cheese is very filling. Cheese contains:
- Fat, which digests slowly and will keep you full for longer periods of time
- Protein (for muscles), which also digests slowly
I know back in high school I would come home absolutely ravenous.
I didn’t eat enough during the day so when I came home I would wolf down a block of cheese.
Literally, I would eat a huge hunk of cheese plain!!
But this had nothing to do with cheese, per se. I was just really hungry and my body was craving food sources that would give me lots of calories!
Craving Cheese Reason #2: You’re Not Getting Enough Fat
Cheese, for many vegetarians, is their main source of fat.
My friend in college was a proud vegetarian. She primarily ate:
- vegetables and beans
However, my friend wasn’t getting fat through other dietary sources.
Just like me, she would start to have cravings and then eat a ton of cheese in ridiculous ways!
- Cheese sandwiches
- Whole hunks of cheese
- Picking the cheese off pizza
Now you may not be vegetarian …
But you too may not be eating enough fat through other dietary sources, and be craving cheese as a result.
These two reasons – not eating enough and not getting enough fat — are what almost all food cravings mean (most of the time, except in emotional eating situations which we’ll talk about soon)
Your Body Needs Fat
- Fat helps protect the vital organs of your body
- Fat digests slowly and keeps you full for longer
Generally speaking, the healthy range of fat for men is around 10-20% of body weight whereas for women the healthy range is 20-35%.
Even under optimal conditions, you can see that a healthy human still has 10% body fat or more.
You need fat!
Not getting enough fat and not getting enough food to eat are, as I said above, the primary reasons why you crave cheese, and foods like cheese such as ice cream.
Cheese in particular is very dense and contains high amounts of fat and calories, which helps give your body the energy it needs.
Why Do I Crave Dairy Products And Eggs?
While this article’s focus is cheese …
The same reasoning can easily be applied to dairy products and eggs too!
Cheese, dairy products and eggs are all very similar:
- Come from animals
- Have high proportions of fat and protein
- Rich, creamy texture
Dairy products include:
- ice cream
You may be craving dairy products like ice cream and eggs because these foods are like cheese.
They contain a high amount of fat and calories which your body needs to function.
(Of course too much of these foods can result in high blood sugar and could mean your body will experience bloating)
If you aren’t getting enough calories and fat from, for example, cheese or these other sources, you will get food cravings no matter what.
What Do Cravings Mean? Two Main Meanings
There is one more main reason that explains cravings.
To recap, the two reasons behind cravings simply relate to your body’s need for fuel and energy:
- When you don’t eat enough, you run low on energy and your body naturally craves foods like cheese to replenish
- If you are low on fat, your body naturally craves food to get more fat
Again, if you’re looking for a craving meaning, these two reasons explain at least 50% of all food cravings!
The reason so many food cravings are explained by these two reasons is simple.
These types of cravings are known as homeostatic hunger, or physical hunger.
These craving sensations are simply your body’s natural desire to eat food in order to get fuel and energy.
For example, you may be genuinely physically hungry for salty food after a sweaty workout:
- During the workout you burned a lot of calories and sweated a lot.
- So then you experience salt cravings naturally because you need to replenish your body’s fuel and salt supply .
In this situation, it’s perfectly normal to feel food craving for a big, salty burger to replenish your body’s stores of fat, calories and salt.
However, there is a THIRD reason that also can drive cravings: emotions.
This type of hunger, according to Amy Gorin, RDN, is called hedonic hunger.
Hedonic hunger is when you are ‘hungry’ for a food but not physically hungry.
Craving Cheese Reason #3: Emotional Eating
Acting on hedonic hunger is known as emotional eating! That is, you’re not eating because you are truly physically hungry, but instead because you are reacting to your emotions.
There are several ways this can happen. For example, it’s well known that foods high in fat and sugar can evoke chemical reactions in the human body.
Just anticipating the thought of having sugary or fatty food can make your brain emit the neurotransmitter dopamine. And dopamine is known as the ‘feel good’ chemical.
Here are some other ways foods may make you ‘feel good’ and hence eat in response to your emotions:
- Excitement and novelty when you’re feeling bored
- Distraction from thinking when you’re worried and stressed out
- Feeling full (and bloated) instead of feeling difficult emotions
- Giving you a variety of sensations and flavors that shifts your attention away from the difficulties of life
If you’re struggling with your emotional responses around food or can’t stop thinking about food, be sure to check out my 3 month program to stop binge eating.
The program is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT is considered the first line treatment option for Binge Eating Disorder.
Perhaps the best part about CBT is simplicity! You basically just keep an Awareness Journal around food.
Not a calorie journal or diary, but where you record your thoughts and emotions around food.
It’s simple and really works! For example, you can see this woman here who binged for 40 years and then stopped in a few months.
Get more details here if you’d like to learn more about the 3 month binge eating treatment program.
Cheese Can Be An Emotional Eating Magnet!
Cheese may be your emotional eating magnet for many reasons:
- Cheese is cheap
- Cheese comes in many different varieties Cheese can help keep you full and provide fat sources
- Cheese is convenient
- Cheese is paired well with other foods that can make you prone to food craving, such as bread
Craving Cheese Reason #4: Lack Of Vitamin D
Now if you read on the internet, some health blogs will say that cheese cravings are due to lack of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is from the sun normally, but it can be added to various products.
For example, there is some truth to the matter because cheese does contain vitamin D.
Other dairy products like milk also contain vitamin D. For many people the added vitamin D to milk is how they get their vitamin D!
However, the temptation is to think you may just need Vitamin D, and then your cheese cravings will go away.
After all, it’s easy to just get a vitamin D supplement and then all your problems would go away!
You wouldn’t have to look at your eating habits or do critical analysis about what the underlying factors behind your food cravings are, or what these cravingws mean.
But, please remember the three main reasons behind cheese cravings:
- Not enough food
- Not enough fat
- Emotional eating
While you may indeed be craving dairy products and cheese because you may lack Vitamin D ….
The odds are greater that your cheese cravings are because you are not eating sufficiently or are eating emotionally.
Craving Cheese Reason # 5: Creamy
Cheese also has a creamy texture that is hard to replicate!
What other foods out there are like cheese and dairy?
The simple truth is that animal products are hard to replicate. Just think about how much money and technology is needed to replicate the taste of meat!
There is something about animal products like cheese with the soft, creamy texture.
This unique texture is sometimes what’s driving your food cravings!
But keep in mind, the creamy texture and lack of vitamin D, are less likely causes of cheese cravings.
You’re still most likely not eating enough, not getting enough fat from other sources, or emotionally eating.
How Do I Stop Craving Cheese?
The most straightforward way to stop craving cheese has two parts:
- Get more healthy food during the day
- Get a variety of healthy food during the day
Eat More Healthy Food During The Day
Your body is like a car. Without fuel, the car stops running.
Your body needs fuel to breathe, think, and talk.
That’s why we need some calories for blood sugar. Sugar in your blood is the fuel.
In a car, the car will make a few shudders and stop when it runs out of gasoline.
In your body, the signals of low or no fuel are your cravings.
Cravings are a sign that you need more fuel!
Literally just eat more food.
- Have a bigger breakfast
- Have a bigger lunch
- Have a snack before dinner
Get A Variety Of Healthy Food During The Day
Of course, you can’t just eat carbs all day either!
Sure, you can have ‘more’ food …
But you need to get a variety of ‘more’ food as well, and it should be a balanced variety.
Just eating more carbs like pasta, pizza and other empty carbs doesn’t count!
- A bigger bowl of cereal doesn’t count
- More french fries doesn’t count!
- More muffins and rolls don’t count
Of course you can have cereal, french fries, muffins and rolls.
But a major key to ridding yourself of cravings (and not just cheese cravings but all cravings for comfort foods) …
Is to combine ‘more’ with ‘variety’ and to make sure that the variety is wholesome.
When you eat a variety of more wholesome foods you entire life changes!
Benefits Of Eating More Wholesome Foods
- More energy
- More mental clarity
- Less mood swings
- Just feel better!
- Weight loss too (but that’s not the point)
Of course you already know these things …
Ideas For Wholesome Foods:
I’ll stick with my previous examples of cereal, french fries, and muffins and rolls 🙂
Using these admittedly silly (but realistic for many of us) examples you can get the idea behind what I mean by ‘more’ and ‘variety’:
- Cereal + nuts + berries + yogurt
- Chicken + whole wheat bread + veggies + water
- muffins and rolls + fruit + nuts
The key is to eat ‘more’ in terms of amount and variety!