It’s such an American, and nutrition-based, solution to a problem. Change the food, not the habits.

Here’s the situation:

  1. Americans are under pressure to reduce consumption of sodium and saturated fats.
  2. But, Americans like to eat cheese.
  3. And, cheese is loaded with sodium and saturated fat.  In fact, cheese is the single largest source of saturated fat in the American diet. (Read more about sat fat from the  Harvard School of Public Health.)

So, instead of changing our habits, we’re trying to change the cheese.

According to The New York Times, cheese manufacturers are busy looking for ways to make palatable low salt, low fat cheese. 

I guess palatable is the problem.

“When you take a lot of the fat out, essentially cheese will turn into an eraser.”— Gregory D. Miller, president of the Dairy Research Institute.

“If you really want to make bad cheese, make a low-fat, low-sodium one.” — Lloyd Metzger, professor of dairy science at South Dakota State University.

Read The New York Times article.

How are cheese manufacturers “fixing” their food?

One technique relies upon centrifuges to spin off the fat, turning cheddar cheese into cheddar cheese product.

Yes, this is what America needs: MORE PROCESSED FOOD.

I can understand cheese manufacturers wanting to preserve their product’s place in the American diet.

The American cheese industry produces more than 10 billion pounds of cheese each year.

That’s a lot of cheese.

And I understand people wanting a “healthier” cheese. We LOVE cheese.

So it’s understandable that we want to have our cheese and eat it too. (Sorry, I know that joke is cheesy. That joke is too!)

Replacing cheese with an inferior tasting, more highly processed product, just so we can eat as much cheese as we want, is simply the wrong solution.

The idea that we should be able to eat as much as we want of any food is part of our national problem.

And it’s fostered by the nutrition mentality: If it’s nutritious we feel free to go wild.  Where are the limits? (Limits seem only to apply to “bad” food. Turn “bad” food into “good” food though…)

This isn’t just a portion size problem. It’s an entitlement problem.

Indeed, we are so committed to the idea that we should be able to eat as much as we want that we are willing to remake food into something it’s not. Cheese is only the latest example.

Our national dialogue focuses so much on what we eat that people have almost forgotten that we have to think about when, why and how much we eat as well.

That’s the beauty of the habits approach. It provide a clear and concise way for people to pack everything they want into their diet, and it does so in a way that works. (Just ask yourself: Is this a habit you want your kids to foster?)

There’s nothing wrong with eating cheese, but I highly recommend that you and your kids eat the real deal—Brie, Camembert, actual Cheddar—in the right amounts and in the right frequency. (Don’t give your kids cheese every day. Read What’s the Problem with Cheese?)

Maybe some people dream of a day when we’ll live in a world where all the “bad” foods will be altered to be nutritionally superior, and then we will be able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever quantities we want.

I dream of a day, though, when we start thinking more about habits.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~