There are at least 2 BIG reasons to steer clear of the cheese tray that seems to make its ubiquitous appearance this time of year.  Cheese cubes, cheese balls, cheese sauce – think of the incarnations!

You may already know the downside of dairy (see ‘Perils of Dairy’: Why dairy may not ‘do your body good’ and in fact be just plain bad for you – video)- especially if you’ve been coming by the plant-based fitness blog for any amount of time.  Yet at this time of year, getting served up a reminder can only help.  Plus I’ve got a great new visual for you:  How big a ‘one oz’ size serving of cheese really is.

A 1 oz serving of swiss cheese – that’s about the size of 4 cubes of dice – has 107 calories and 8 grams of fat.

2 reasons to steer clear of the cheese tray

1)  Fat and calories: That one oz. of cheese has 107 calories and 8 grams of fat.  Hello!

That’s 67% of its calories from fat!

That innocent looking pile of swiss cheese in the image  is a 1 oz. portion.

That’s right, when you see ‘serving size:  1 oz’ on the package, it means that tiny little heap of dice.   Need we underscore that cheese is not your fat loss or weight loss friend?

2)  Cheese addiction:  Cheese has addictive properties (no wonder we like it).  The primary protein in cheese comes from casein. Casein, the primary protein in cow’s milk, breaks apart in the digestive process and releases chemicals called casomorphins.  Sound familiar? Casomorphins are casein-derived, morphine-like substances.

What does this mean for you?  It means your body responds with a biochemical cascade as if you’d had an opiate.

To make just 1 lb of cheese, it takes about 10 lbs of milk.  As milk goes through the process of being made into cheese, the water is largely removed and what’s left behind?  The casein and fat.  This is why highly concentrated dairy products such as cheese have unusually high levels of opiates.

So, is this  an inherently bad thing?  No. The biochemistry of casein and fat ingestion serves a powerful purpose in the natural world where nursing infants need that strong connection with their primary food source to survive.

But if you are trying to break the tie with this high fat item along with the rest of its dairy friends, then making a clean break will give a big boost to your process.  There’s a reason we can’t seem to stop at one bite.  See Stress eating: No wonder we crave chocolate and not broccoli (video).

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