Hey there, it's Susan Peirce Thompson and welcome to the Weekly Vlog. I'm excited to cover this topic this week. I knew I was going to cover it. I think I mentioned it a couple weeks ago in my vlog on sexy foods and which foods are the sexiest, and it's all spurred by this question, comment, question, and comment really that was written in by someone named Michael.
Michael writes, "I am shocked that you don't mention dairy, especially cheese when you talk about food addiction. Studies have shown that cheese is the most addictive food there is, as it releases the most dopamine. When I went to a whole food plant-based diet, it wasn't sugar or refined grains that I had a hard time giving up. It was cheese and specifically cheese pizza. I had two friends who would only go so far as becoming vegetarian because of dairy. One couldn't give up cheese, the other full fat ice cream, no sherbet for her. What is even worse is that of the three, sugar, processed grains, and cheese, cheese is the worst. Not only is it mostly saturated fat, but it is high in cholesterol, calories, and salt, and contains casein proteins, which have been linked to cancer. Sugar can be converted into fat after using 70% of its energy in the process. But cheese is mainly fat already. Why isn't cheese the top of the food addiction villain list? Is the dairy industry a sponsor of yours? I'm very serious."
All right, Michael, thank you so much for writing in. I so appreciate your comments. You make a really good point. Research does show that cheese has addictive properties. Let me explain how this works. Cheese and other dairy products have casein in them. That's the predominant form of protein in cow's milk, dairy, and those caseins break down into all manner of forms of casomorphinsÉcasomorphins, which do bind to opiate receptors in the brain. Those are the same receptors that heroin and other opiates bind to, which releases some dopamine. So, cheese is a bit addictive. It's true. It is absolutely true.
Now, Michael, thanks to your question, I scoured the literature, and I could not find any study that showed what you're proposing, which is cheese releases more dopamine than say sugar, or flour, or other addictive foods. If you have such a study, would you please link it in the comments because I couldn't find it. I doubt it. I would be shocked if someone ate a hundred grams of sugar, a hundred grams of white bread and a hundred grams of cheese, I would be shocked if cheese released more dopamine than sugar or white bread. I'd just be shocked. I'm not saying it's not possible, but it's not what I would predict at all, and I didn't find any research to corroborate what you claimed there, and I looked, so, there's that.
Yes, it is true that cheese is not healthy. I will answer your question directly. Is the dairy industry a sponsor of me or of Bright Line Eating®? No, no, no. I have never in my life taken a dime from any food industry, definitely not the dairy industry, and they would be quickly kicking me off their sponsorship list if they were a sponsor because I'm out there in the world telling people probably don't eat cheese. It's not very healthy. And oh, by the way, here's how you make your own soy yogurt at home so that you don't have to eat dairy yogurt. I don't think they'd be very happy with me if they were a sponsor. No, the dairy industry is not a sponsor, and I've been very candid that I've been on and off plant-based throughout my life. I tend to air toward plant-based eating and dairy's not very healthy. It doesn't really agree with my body very well, and I definitely agree that it's not the healthiest food to eat.
Now, whether it should be allowed or not allowed on the Bright Line Eating Plan is something else that I think you're getting at, right? Why is Cheese allowed on the Bright Line Eating plan? And I want to say a few things about that. First, your assertions about saturated fat and cholesterol and so forth, I'm not a nutrition expert. You can go to your favorite nutrition person given your plant-based predilections. I'm assuming you like to learn from Joel Furman and Michael Gregor and all those people. By all means, go to other people than me to learn about nutrition.
I'm not a nutritionist, I'm a brain scientist, right? I'm going to teach you about psychology. I'm going to teach you about food addiction, and I'm going to teach you about brain science. I'm going to teach you about weight loss, and I'm going to teach you about weight loss in the context of being highly susceptible to food addiction. And as such, I think your question is absolutely apropos, right? Hey, if cheese is addictive, what gives professor? Like, why are you having it included on your food plan, right? That doesn't seem right, but the Bright Line Eating Food Plan is not a health-based food plan, right? It's a starter food plan for people to be able to eat the widest variety of foods that will work to quelch their food addiction, to heal their brain, and to allow them to have agency and authorship restored in terms of their eating choices and preferences. And at that point, a lot of people do go down a path of trying to optimize their diet for health, which is not something that we teach them how to do in Bright Line Eating. We're not the health nutrition experts around here, but a lot of people do take their improved ability to plan their meals, to avoid ultra-processed foods, entirely, to not eat sugar and flour and go on their merry way, and then do things like give up dairy or give up meat. But in Bright Line Eating, we don't insist on that. As a matter of fact, it's very important to us that we allow the widest variety of foods possible because frankly, we would be excluding a lot of people from accessing the transformation that we deliver here. If we partnered up with this approach to nutritional perfection, or this approach to nutritional perfection, or this dietary philosophy, or this dietary philosophy, we try to stay agnostic about that around here while allowing people to absolutely have their needs, preferences, and opinions about that, and to have those honored here. If you want to be plant-based or vegan here in Bright Line Eating that works, come on in and do it. It works great. Nobody's making you eat cheese around here. Absolutely not. But we don't tell people that they can't eat cheese. And here's why. I'm curious if I've addressed the nutritional aspect adequately.
We allow people to eat sausage, hot dogs, prime rib. Things that are just not healthy. They're not the healthiest. Cheese. They're not the healthiest. When you're weighing and measuring a serving of it and not eating it with any of the other things, any of the other addictive things, the bread, there's no pizza around here, right? Because we're not eating the dough. We're not eating that sauce that has sugar in it. We're not eating that, and we're not melting our cheese around here either. There's a very different thing eating cheese or dairy the way you're talking about it in ice cream, in pizza, versus eating a two-ounce hunk of cheese, or if you're on the protein-enhanced plan, a three-ounce hunk of cheese sitting there, separate on a plate, not melted, not sprinkled, just sitting there, and eating that with your baby carrots, your apple. It's just not as rewarding or triggering. And so, we allow people to make their choices around it. It's sort of a wide door. We want the entryway to Bright Line Eating to be as wide as possible so that people who are coming from the most ultra-processed Americanized diet imaginable, who now suddenly must wrap their head around eating 20 ounces of vegetables a day and never eating sugar, never eating flour, weighing, and measuring every bite and only eating three meals a day, they're not further constrained beyond what's necessary. So, you want to have a steak for dinner, have a steak for dinner, you want to have a hunk of cheese for your protein at lunch, have a hunk of cheese, a protein for your protein at lunch. It's just what some people are going to need to make the plan work for them.
But why doesn't the cheese trigger their addiction, right? Why is that working? Well, here, I'm going to give you really the most true but perhaps unsatisfying answer. And the answer is, it's working because it's working. It works because it works. How do we know it works? Because when Bright Line Eating was founded, there already were, let me see if I can do the math right, 54 years of experience since January of 1960 of 12-step programs with an aggregate of probably several million people mixing and melding in various programs, starting with Overeaters Anonymous, which was founded in January of 1960, and then onto Food Addicts Anonymous, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, Gray Sheeters Anonymous, CEA, HOW, and all the rest of them, there's seven or eight 12-step food programs with significant membership. I was a member of more than one of them and tried lots of them and watched people do what they did and what the data, and I don't mean published data, I mean actual people living the program, what the data showed over thousands, maybe millions of people, was that the people who tried to keep artificial sweeteners in their plan were chronic relapsers. The people who tried to keep whole wheat flour in their plan were chronic relapsers. The people who tried to keep honey in their plan were chronic relapsers. The people who sprinkled that non-dairy creamer in their coffee in meetings, chronic relapsers, the people who ate weighed and measured cheese as a protein serving for their meal, not melted, just sitting there on the plate did fine. By the time Bright Line Eating was founded, that evidence was in. There was no reason to exclude cheese from the food plan because it just wasn't triggering people by and large.
Now, were there some people going crazy over cheese? There may have been, just like there are some people who go crazy over nuts, and certainly people go crazy over nut butters. They're very borderline foods, absolutely. There are some people who go crazy over yogurt. There's some people who go crazy over sausage. There's some people who go crazy over fruit. There's some people who go crazy over all grains. That is true. But the percentages are minuscule. All these things fall into the category of individual binge foods, meaning you are responsible to track what lights you up, and if it doesn't work for you, don't eat it. But the masses in general are not being triggered.
It's a really, really interesting phenomenon that when you take a food item that was formerly profoundly triggering, like, I'm going to give two examples here. Cheese and white rice in the wrong context, both profoundly triggering. You take white rice and you slather it in butter and you mix it in some kind of, it can just be very, very triggering. I remember a woman, this was decades ago now, I remember a woman whose number one binge food was a pot of rice with a stick of butter melted into it. That's what she would eat. That's what she would binge on. When she started transitioning to maintenance, this was in a 12-step program, her sponsor said, now you need to add four ounces of grain at lunch, and your main options here are like potatoes or rice. And the woman started to freak out. She said, I cannot eat rice. And the sponsor said, yes you can. And she said, I can't, can't eat rice. And the sponsor said, here's the thing. You used to eat pots of it and you used to melt a stick of butter all over it. You're not going to be doing that anymore. You're going to be eating four ounces of it, and you're not going to put anything on it. It's going to be plain.
The first day that woman weighed her four ounces of rice and called her sponsor at lunchtime and she cried on the phone with her sponsor, with her hand shaking and ate her four ounces of rice and was fine. The next day did it again. To this day, I think she's got like 45 years of unbroken abstinence, which in that plan is no sugar, no flour, weighing and measuring her food for 45 years, never a break. She eats rice all the time. A serving at lunch, a serving at dinner. In the context of without all the sexy sauces, weighing and measuring the quantity, no possibility of going back for more, not eating a pot of it, just eating your four ounces. It's fine. Same thing with the cheese outside of the context of pizza, outside of the context of melting it on something, just a hunk of cheese for protein for most people weighed and measured no possibility of more. It's fine. If it's not for you, then don't eat it. If you're vegan, don't eat it. If it offends your sensibilities that it's even available to other people to eat, I kind of understand that because it's got those casomorphins in it, and it really does seem like it should be problematic. For some tiny sliver of the population, it is problematic just like nuts, right? Just like nuts and nut butters and the Bright Line Eating. Coaches and I are coaching lots and lots of people, and we just don't see it being problematic overall.
I think I've addressed every aspect of your question. I think it's a great question. I'm glad you wrote it in. I want to reiterate that I'm in agreement with you that dairy is not by and large, super healthy, and I don't recommend that people who are looking to optimize nutritional wellness eat a bunch of it. And I really do stand by having it included in the Bright Line Eating food plan. I am going to always think very, very carefully before narrowing the Bright Line Eating food plan more. I'm very proud of the fact that currently every single protein, meat, dairy, grain, seed, nut, legume, vegetable, and fruit, every real food can be eaten on the Bright Line Eating food plan. Everyone, there's nothing we don't eat around here if it's a whole, real food. I like being able to say that I am absolutely in agreement that cheese is one of the most borderline foods that's allowed. I talk about it often right there along with nuts and nut butters as being the ones that are most likely to be triggering. I say all the time, don't melt that stuff on your food. Don't do it. Don't do it. Melted cheese is worse than just a hunk of cheese. I donÕt know why that is. I don't know of any studies that show that. I just know it to be true. We saw it over those decades of watching people break and Rezoomª in 12-step programs. That was absolutely a thing. Melting cheese on your food will sexify it beyond the beyond, don't do it.
Anyway, yeah, I'm with you, Michael. No, I'm not taking money from the dairy industry. They'd be so mad at me. I would be the worst spokesperson ever. Thank you for your honest question. I appreciate your outrage. I sympathize with where you're coming from and I've given you my candid thoughts. Always a pleasure. That's the weekly vlog. I'll see you next week.