He did fine, and he not only survived the ordeal, he enjoyed himself. One thing in particular he talked about was the cheese course, which he had never experienced before.
About two months ago, I took my boyfriend of three years to a party. It was a pretty upscale dinner party that a friend of a friend was throwing, and we had been invited. Now, I grew up attending these types of parties, but my boyfriend hadn’t. He reluctantly agreed to go, protesting that he felt uncomfortable around rich people and didn’t understand the rules.
He did fine, and he not only survived the ordeal, he enjoyed himself. One thing in particular he talked about was the cheese course, which he had never experienced before. He told me his only experience with cheese was Kraft American singles, but the cheeses we had that night, he said, blew his mind. I was happy he enjoyed himself and didn’t think too much about it.
A few weeks later, I was at his apartment, and I opened the fridge to get a bottle of water, and I noticed he had a lot of cheese in there. When I asked about it, he said he was “really getting into cheese” since the party. He went on about the different flavors and firmness of cheese. It was cute, but again, I didn’t think anything of it.
The weeks went by, and he started calling me less often. When I said let’s go out, he claimed that he didn’t have any money. He stopped driving because he couldn’t afford gas. We had gone from seeing each other every day to maybe once a week. After a month of this, I got fed up and went to his apartment, where I found he had moved out. I called his cell phone, and it was disconnected. I asked his best friend what was going on, and he just dropped his head and said, “It’s gotten bad.” He gave me my boyfriend's new address, and it was in a very shady part of town.
I went to his new place and discovered him living in a filthy studio apartment with makeshift furniture and nothing much else. Except his fridge was full of different cheeses. The floor of his place was covered with empty cans of Easy Cheez; they were just a fix, he told me when he couldn’t afford anything better. He was obviously in a bad state. I told him to pack his things and come live with me, and that’s when it happened.
He took my hand and led me to the area of his place where he had his bed. He threw aside the covers, and there, in the bed, was a truckle of cheese. He said, “I can’t go with you; we’re in love.”
Is this possible? Is this for real? I love him, and I cannot believe I’m losing him to a wheel of cheese. How does this happen, and what do I do?
Not in a Gouda Place
First off, I’m sorry this happened; it can be devastating when we lose love. Time will heal, and all will be well again someday.
The thing you have to realize is that cheese can be addictive. It’s true. You see, cheese contains high concentrations of the protein casein. As this gets digested, it forms peptides called casomorphins. Now this may sound like a joke, “caso” morphins, but it’s true. According to a 2021 report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, casomorphines are food-derived opioids
Now it’s true that a slice of aged Irish cheddar will not give you the same jolt as, say, codeine, but cheese does have some opioid-like properties. When opioids bind with the opioid receptors in our brains, they release the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward to be released. This neurotransmitter is dopamine.
Physicians have claimed that when casomorphins attach to the opioid receptors, they cause a calming effect similar to heroin or morphine. And since cheese is processed to express out all liquid, there is a very high concentration of casomorphins in it, so cheese is basically dairy crack.
It’s not just the casomorphins; cheese also contains an amino acid called phenylethylamine that can cause euphoric effects. What I’m saying is that one can possibly be addicted to cheese. I believe this is what your boyfriend is experiencing.
Here are some things you can do. Understand that your boyfriend is sick and needs help. I suggest you weeen him off cheese. He’s probably eating a lot of hard and aged cheeses right now because they contain higher levels of casomorphins. So, he’s on the hard stuff. What you need to do is move him toward softer cheeses; mozzarella and ricotta are good, soft cheeses.
Whatever you do, keep him away from melted cheese. We love melted cheese because of the texture and flavor changes, but hot, melted cheese not only gets nutrients to our bodies faster, but it also shoots us full of casomorphins. He needs to avoid hot, gooey, melted cheese.
You will see some changes as you move him from hard to soft cheeses. Stay with him, be patient with him and yourself; this is not an easy time.
Be vigilant. Check to see if he’s mainlining Easy Cheez, Squeezy Cheez, or the dreaded Cheez Whiz. As he comes down, he’ll probably gravitate to cheese-flavored foods and snack foods with that screaming orange cheese dust on them. His fingers will be a giveaway; check for orange under the fingernails.
Eventually, he will consume the truckle of Brie, and he’ll start seeking a replacement. This will be an uneasy time for him and for you. I suggest you put a small dab of cheese scent behind your ears; it will keep him connected to you. Also, dress in cheese colors and slip cheese into your conversations. Show him that you like cheese and appreciate cheese, but you can offer him much more than cheese does. This will be difficult for you at this stage as you catch him lingering in the cheese aisle or stopping in front of the cheese shop. How can I compete with all that cheese, you may ask yourself. But, thinking of it as a competition is pointless. You have more to offer and longer to offer it. Even when facing an aged cheese, remind him that once he consumes it, it’s gone. While you will always be by his side.
At this stage, there may be some resentment, and he may accuse you of hating cheese. Carry small packets of cheese with you and let him see you socializing with cheese. Tell him of adventures you’ve had with cheese and help him understand that you don’t hate cheese; you just hate what it’s doing to him and your relationship.
When the time is right, invite cheese to your table at dinner again. Make him a grilled cheese sandwich, and praise him when he leaves a little glob of melted cheese on the plate. Ut, stay vigilant. One slip and he will go from hiding in the cellar stuffing Cheez Nips into his mouth to holding up a cheese shop for a fix.
Even when you feel he is in control, understand this is an addiction, and it never really goes away. Stay on top of things, keep an eye on him at parties, and stay away from cheese, cheese-related events, or cheese-centric foods until he tells you he can handle being in the same room as cheese.
You have a lot of work ahead of you, but if you stay focused and stay true, there’s no reason why you and your boyfriend cannot repair your relationship and slowly allow cheese back into your lives.
I hope that helps.
If you have a question or a problem that you think Paul can help with, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll try to answer. Which may or may not be a good thing.