I have been seriously considering cutting cheese out of my diet completely, or at least setting some kind of limits or ground rules on it. I've made so much progress removing the trigger foods from my intake that the few that remain *really* stand out to me. There are so few things now that flip the switch to overeat. Cheese is the big one.
Oh, I can eat a low fat string cheese here and there for a snack and be fine. I can make my cauliflower pizza and be satisfied. Caprese salad never sends me running for more cheese. Trying to put a finger on it has taken a little thought. What is it, exactly, that triggers me?
Cheddar. Cheddar and heaven help me, my favorite cheese of all, Havarti. Havarti is rarely a problem, though, because I buy it so infrequently and when I do, I go to the deli and buy a slice, two slices. That's not an issue, although if I had a block of Havarti in my fridge all bets would be off. So yeah, it's cheddar, basically. A little grated on a salad? No problem. But if I start eating it in slices or melted, something seriously trips in my head.
Let me give you a little background. When I was a kid, my mom didn't know how to cook. I mean she really didn't, and so all my weekend and summer lunches were full of easy foods: hot dogs, mostly. Fried bologna sandwiches with ketchup. And a whole lot of Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese. But I'd guess at least half of those lunches were cheese. Sliced cheese and crackers, or grated cheese melted on Wonder bread. Sometimes she would go all out and I'd get an actual grilled cheese sandwich. But if you want to know what one food represents my childhood, it would be grated cheese melted on bread in the broiler. I ate that all the time. Oh, and bagels smeared with tons of cream cheese... that too. And yes, cream cheese is another trigger.
I "failed" Atkins and South Beach mainly because I was eating bricks of cheddar and 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese for snacks. There is never enough cheese for me to want to stop eating it. I *still* have to really watch myself or I will be in there grabbing spoonfuls of cream cheese to eat, or slicing up cheddar because it is low carb. Easy to justify, as the cheeses I get are gluten free, sugar free, low carb, grain free. Feels like a freebie, but it's not. It's caloric, and aside from that, I don't like the feeling that a food might trip me into a state of mind I don't want to be in. I got rid of the sugar and grains and sodas and fast food because they made me want to binge on them, and they are bad for me. And for a long time, the cheese thing has been nagging at me, too.
Funny, earlier today I recounted how impossible and awful it seemed to me some weeks ago to contemplate a life without cake. I feel the same about cheese. I cannot comprehend "no cheese, ever again." So I am not going there, at least not now. But I need to set some rules, here. When I am not counting calories I am very tempted to keep on eating cheese... 2, 3 servings worth. When I *am* counting calories, I don't want them all sucked up by caloric cheese. Nutritious veggies would be a better choice for those calories.
So, I am putting a limit on the cheese. If I want to cook with it, or have a cheese-based meal like Caprese salad or cauliflower pizza, I'll limit that to once a week. But you know, I think I just want to try and not eat any Cheddar at all for awhile. I think it is fine to have fancy cheeses on special occasions, or when you're at a party and want to pick something low carb from the platters. But there's no reason for me to keep eating it at home.
Sure, it would be easier to just not have cheese in the house. But the kids all like cheese and eat it without a problem, and two of my kids especially need calorie-dense, fat-rich food like cheese, so I will just learn to let it be, just like I have learned to leave their cereal and wheat bread and crackers alone.
So that's what I'm going to do to improve my intake, and I feel very positive about it.
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