Craving Cheese ... a LOT

About 18 months ago, I gave up dairy in a bid to reduce my PMS symptoms, which worsened when I hit my mid-30's (read more here). I haven't missed it much, not ice cream, not yogurt ... other than cheese. Not eating cheese wasn't hard in the beginning, but in the past couple of months, the cravings really kicked in.

Shredded Manchego
Avoiding (Not Eliminating) Dairy
I haven't been 100% clean of dairy. I eat chicken liver pâté once a month when I'm PMSing because I like it, and I figure the iron is beneficial right before my period. It does have a bit of milk powder in it. Or, if I'm at someone's house for dinner and there's unavoidable dairy, then I'll pop a few lactase pills and dig in. Side note: I didn't use to be that lactose intolerant before I gave up dairy, but abstaining has definitely exacerbated the situation.

Isolating the Issue
My husband's mom wanted to help me out, cheese-wise, so she spoke with her cheese guy. He said that cheese has very little lactose since it's mostly removed with the whey, and further dissipates as the cheese ages. He also told her that most people have more of an issue with the A1 beta-casein protein in the breed of cow that is dominant in the U.S. dairy industry, and that form of the protein is not present in sheep or goat milk.

I did some research online, and there are theories that it's the A1 beta-casein protein that worsens PMS symptoms, rather than the hormones. Given how much I was missing cheese, last week I decided to take the plunge and try introducing some sheep's milk cheese back into my diet in the form of Manchego. I shredded it with a box grater after getting it home so that I could easily add it to a breakfast egg wrap or egg on an english muffin.

Final Thoughts
It was so good eating cheese again. It was just as good as I remembered, and such an indulgent pleasure that brings joy to my day. So, we'll see how it goes ... maybe my PMS reverts to an untenable state this month and I'll have to give up cheese again, or (fingers crossed), all goes well and cheese can re-join my food repertoire. In the meantime, I'm excited to try out a sheep's milk Basque cheese and goat milk Brie I've been reading about from Trader Joe's!


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