Every February I challenge myself to give something up that I love. It all initially began when I missed the memo on “dry January”, so I figured I’d give up alcohol in February instead. I felt like a genius because February is the shortest month of the year. So no, this is not religiously affiliated, this is me literally trying to test my willpower and internal strength. It’s sick, I know.
Last year I gave up my one true love, french fries (you can read all about it). With that being incredibly challenging, I knew for 2020 I needed to take things to the next level.
My final three options were:
- Eating Out
I had to rule out eating out pretty quickly because I was going to be traveling for work and I literally wouldn’t be able to avoid it (unless I wanted to be very prepared and we all know I can’t do that). And since I’m unable to make a decision on my own, I took it to a vote with my friends and they all said, “try to give up cheese, I couldn’t do it, but I bet you might be able to.” The confidence in me was insane.
I really wasn’t sure how difficult giving up cheese would be. I started to panic the week before because I had no clue what I would eat for the month. My regular diet is pizza, grilled cheese, cheese based soups, salads that include cheese, you get it. Once I started to evaluate what my daily intake was with food, I realized how integral cheese was to my diet. It was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
Then the month began. I felt like I was going to be okay. I started thinking about new foods I could try. I thought about how this would ultimately make me feel better. How I would have a clear face by the end of the month since my dairy intake would be significantly less. But I forgot that I would actually be giving up my all time favorite food…pizza.
But it was okay, I was heading to Denver, all would be well, and my strength would overcome any cheese craving. Wow did no cheese put me into a state of denial. My first meal in Denver I ordered a chicken caesar wrap “and just please leave off the cheese“. The wonderful waitress took it down, then quickly came back to ask if the cheese in the dressing was okay. I was already feeling defeated, so I just said okay. Eleven days into the month of no cheese and I had already mildly failed. I mean, WHO KNEW THERE WAS CHEESE IN THE DRESSING? I didn’t.
Throughout the rest of my time in Denver, I successfully picked around the cheese in our taco bar, avoided the pizza, cheese dip, nachos, salads with cheese, and every other bowling alley food with cheese known to man. I even went to a sandwich shop and asked for no cheese and the server looked at me and goes “wait…seriously? I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone ask that before…” to which I sadly stated, “yeah, I don’t doubt it. I’m crazy and gave up cheese for the month…” he chuckled, I didn’t.
By the time I was at the airport to fly home, I was hungry and quickly realized it’s difficult to eat fast food without cheese, (or maybe I really only like fast food with cheese). You tell me, because again, my denial is still making me think I was never in the wrong. I started to mentally make a list of places I could easily avoid cheese, but still keep it quick. Chipotle, Noodles & Company, Arby’s, and Chick Fil A. Thankfully, it made me want to eat out less, because I couldn’t eat what I was actually craving.
Just days before March 1, I was realizing how glad I was to have challenged myself. I missed pizza like crazy, was craving a mcdonalds cheeseburger, and was annoyed my face wasn’t clear of all blemishes, but I was so happy to not be craving every cheese, all the time.
And just because life likes to keep me humble, I want to remind everyone that this year was a leap year. Usually I am pumped for an extra day and living life up! But this one hit a little differently…
Even though I had to delay my cheese intake with an extra day, I had to admit…my body was feeling better, I lost a little bit of weight, and I was reaching for healthier options majority of the time.
But, as soon as March hit, I was ready for pizza.
My takeaways from a month of no cheese:
- My face didn’t clear up like I hoped
- I crave cheese a lot less now
- I’m excited to hit up some of my favorite food places
- I need queso very soon
- I want to continue eating less cheese
Thank you to those who listened to me while I constantly complained about missing cheese, or having to listen to my reminders of giving up cheese. Everyone was so encouraging, but want to know the most common line I heard?
“I couldn’t ever give cheese up.”
If you did this experiment, what would be the thing you loved most that you’d have to give up?
Thanks for reading!