I had no idea such a small part of the “food addictions” article would make such a stir! Since the post went up earlier this week I’ve received a lot of comments and questions about cheese and the casomorphins. So, I’d like to take a minute to answer a few of those questions and clarify a bit what is going on. Big thanks to my friend, Julieanna Hever, MSRD for her input too!
The truth of the matter is that there are many foods that have addictive properties to them including meat, sugar and yes, cheese. There is a biochemical reason that many of us feel we need these foods. It is not a sign of weakness. Besides, if you were never informed about this, how would you ever know?
Casomorphins are a byproduct of the body’s breakdown of a protein called casein, found in most animal foods. It is particularly high in cheese, because it is such a concentrated product, with all of the moisture removed. Yes, casein is also found in breast milk, so it can’t be ALL bad, right?! One theory is that these casomorphins (a morphine-like opiate compound) that are produced during the digestion of casein may actually be partially responsible for the mother infant bond that often occurs with nursing. Remember, cheese comes from milk, and milk is made by cows to feed their young. So why wouldn’t it also be in a product produced by cows to nourish their own babies. No wonder we feel so drawn to these foods!
You know, I always wondered if breast milk was like a drug, since my kids always completely mellowed out, and often fell asleep, whenever they nursed, now I know why!
- Breaking the Food Seduction, by Neal Barnard, M.D.