How do I cut out cheese in my diet? Almost every dish is cheese, grains, and meat. How can I get that flavor in a healthier way?

– David N.


I agree that typical American fare is heavy in the cheese department. You’re right that it seems to be everywhere. What goes in your mouth is under your control, though. Peel off that slice! Or better yet, ask for a substitute like avocado, pesto or sundried tomato spread. If the cheese is melted in, you’ll have to find an alternative item altogether (e.g. marinara sauce instead of alfredo sauce, roasted potato instead of potatoes au gratin).

The flavor of cheese is unique because of the enzymes utilized and the particular dairy source (cow, goat, sheep). The creamy mouthfeel is largely attributable to the fat content, which you can get from vegan alternatives. A soy or nut-based cheese substitute works well in combination with prominent flavors like smoked turkey and arugula on toasted rye.

One simple single ounce of sandwich cheese has 100-120 calories and 6-10 grams of fat. Compare that with the 600+ calories and 30+ grams of fat from two slices of large cheese pizza or 2 cups of macaroni and cheese. Turn away from these cheese-based dishes period. When using cheese as a topping or flavor enhancement, opt for the strongest dry cheese for the most flavor punch, as it requires much less volume and saves calories and fat. Avoid cheese flavoring powder though, as it is high in salt and artificial color.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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