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Is cheese addictive?

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  • Is cheese addictive?


    I seem to have a major obsession with cheese this past couple of weeks. I have heard that the casein in cheese breaks down into opiates in the body and makes it addictive. I tried to do some research on this with no luck. Am I imagining that cheese is addictive or has anyone else experienced this??

    Before becoming primal I was addicted to cheese in the form of nachos and would load them with a ton of cheese! I could not get enough and gained a lot of weight from it.

    Now that I am not eating grains or a high carb diet I am not gaining too much, but feel like I have gained back a few pounds.

    I have been lazy about making meals... kind of in a food funk cheese has been my back-up and I am finding I can't stop eating it and it's all I want to eat.

    What are your thoughts on this? Ever found any research to back this up? Any advice on breaking the addiction?

  • #2
    Any substance or behavior can be addictive. I don't know anything about cheese becoming an opiate, but cheese does increase blood sugar, which leads to a whole series of hormonal effecfs.

    As a low carb eater with food addiction issues, sometimes the sweetness of cheese can really make the restless addiction worm in the brain go a little crazy.
    “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
    Blogging at


    • #3
      Usully salty stuff can trigger more desire. Like macadamia with salt (I have to banish this thought from my mind).

      So you can still eat cheese, just get one that has very little salt and don't add too much salty food to it.


      • #4
        Maybe it's the casein, maybe not, but I know that once I start eating cheese I can't stop. I'll either eat more cheese or some other equally addictive dairy thing like butter or milk/cream.


        • #5
          At least an addiction to cheese is better than an addiction to wheat flour-chocolate cakes or milk chocolates (not dark chocolate). You get calcium, protein and fat with cheese (and no carbs).


          • #6
            Yes. Fatty foods can be, casein can be if you're reacting to it, also dairy contains opiate-like peptides. Not got any references on hand sorry.

            I'm terrible with cheese (and ice cream lol). Definately feel better off dairy. Much easier for me to stay off sugar if I'm off dairy, it's the sugar and dairy combo that really kills me!
            Gluten intolerance and hypermobility syndrome

            Eat food. Mostly real. Enjoy life.

            Health, energy, wellbeing, vitality, joy, LIFE! Health At Every Size

            "Do not ask what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
            Harold Whitman


            • #7
              The wikipedia page on casein (Casein - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) has a few details on its status as a precursor of an opioid molecule, casomorphin - so yes, casein does at least partially convert to a type of opiate in the body. It's a histamine trigger, which means that it can act as an allergen, something that will be very familiar to dairy-intolerant folk - it's not just lactose that people can have sensitivities to.

              After a bit of pootling around on pubmed, I found a couple of studies indicating that casomorphin affects the 5HT system (Effects of systemic administration of beta-casomor... [Eur J Pharmacol. 2006] - PubMed result, [Naloxone-induced suppression of the behavioral ma... [Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2009 Mar-Apr] - PubMed result), which governs serotonin production - meaning that it can have a similar effect on mood, learning and to some extent, possible addiction, to other opioid molecules. But as with so many things, the key is context and dosage - it's hard to say from the abstracts whether the dose of these purified chemicals that they're giving to mice is a reasonable correlate to a person eating a piece of cheese.

              It looks like casomorphin is most abundantly produced by mould-fermented cheeses (such as Brie), and is less present in hard cheeses like Edam or Gouda. I think the take-home message is that the casein can be converted into this opiate-like peptide by your digestive system, and that if you're sensitive to its mood-altering properties (i.e. addictive behaviour) to give it up for a bit, and perhaps experiment a bit with cheeses less likely to provoke a response, like semi-hard Dutch and Swiss ones.

              But the thing to remember about the whole opiate situation is this: foods, particularly ones derived from milk that's intended for growing infants, are rich in opioids for a reason: they're there to encourage you to eat them, and to get pleasure from them. We are *meant* to get that feeling of satisfaction from food. The trouble comes when you start taking in too much of a certain thing, and throwing your own opioid system out of whack (the reason opiates "work" on people is that we have endogenous molecules that they mimic, which are used as neurotransmitters to trigger pleasure and satiety). So if you feel you may be getting addicted, it's best to back off whatever's causing that response; if it's a reasonable, transient but not habit-forming pleasure, that's what it's "supposed" to be doing.
              Last edited by Thespianpythia; 07-13-2011, 03:44 AM. Reason: forgot to add a caveat


              • #8
                Interesting post Thespianpythia.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JPA View Post
                  Interesting post Thespianpythia.
                  Yes, well done. Thanks!
                  “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
                  Blogging at


                  • #10
                    Thanks to you both - looking up answers to interesting questions is great training for being a science teacher . I didn't know until today that casein had opiate-like activity, but you learn something new every day!


                    • #11
                      Nacho cheese isn't real cheese, but an edible cheese-like substance.

                      What kind of cheeses are you eating? The type of cheese makes a big difference in how much I eat. The better quality cheeses (especially goat or sheep cheeses) allow me to be satisfied by eating less of it. A quality bleu cheese is especially good for eating small amounts. Low-fat cheese doesn't do anything for me. It's similar to chocolate in this regard.

                      Also, check and make sure you are getting enough fat from other sources in your diet. If you are eating good cheeses already, perhaps you are craving the fat, if you are not getting enough from the rest of your diet.


                      • #12
                        not for me it isn't. It backs me up and I think cheese clogs up a body and is hard to break down.
                        I don't have it very often and don't miss it.


                        • #13
                          The concentration of that opiate-like casein has made many of us over do cheese. I find goat cheese doesn't stimulate over-consumption in the same way cow's milk cheeses do.

                          I was a sugarbaby; meaning since I was born I was given lots of sugar, and ate lots of processed foods, especially sweets until I was into my thirties. Most people in the west were/are sugarbabies.

                          “How does today’s youngster educate his sense of taste? By submerging it in a sea of sugar from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed.” W. Root and Richard DeRochemont, Eating in America (1976)


                          • #14
                            Sweet, salty and fat, when combined will make any food addictive. They use that recipe in most, if not all processed and restaurant food.
                            Cheese is sugary fat with salt added


                            • #15
                              i think it is, and it spikes the crap outta my BS. I gave it up for lent this year and never added dairy back. nothing but goods have come of it!
                              Get on my Level