In a month when we often cut back on the calories, cheese-lover extraordinaire Laura Billington is looking for reasons to keep cheese on the menu

While cheese often takes a central role in December, it’s usually one of the first foods to come off the shopping list in January as many of us try to adopt a healthier approach to our diets. This month I am talking to Bethan Lamont from Eatlean Cheese, based in Cheshire, about how and why cheese still absolutely has a place in our diets this January.

Guilty as charged. Cheese is often one of the foods I, reluctantly, reduce in January, but tell me you’re going to give me reason to change my mind this year Bethan?

I am! Cheese can often be mislabelled as a food to cut out or back on in January, given its typically high fat and calorie content, when in fact it is also a nutrient-rich food high in protein. Cutting out foods, particularly the foods we love, can often be unsustainable, when instead simply making smaller sustainable switches, with a year-round focus, can better support our long-term health.

Great British Life: Low fat cheese is a thing!Low fat cheese is a thing!

Tell me more about the health benefits of cheese

As a whole food, cheese is a fantastic natural source of protein and calcium. It contains vitamins A and B12, along with zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin. The key is to opt for a reduced fat or low-fat cheese instead. Here at Eatlean we’ve created a cheese with all the great health benefits, but with 90% less fat, 40% more protein and 50% fewer calories than full fat cheddar. Eatlean cheese is made from the same two simple ingredients, British cow’s milk and a pinch of salt, it’s just better for you! How we do this is a secret; I could tell you, but... But with 60 years of cheesemaking experience behind us, we started on a very strong foundation.

I’d love to know your three favourite ways to incorporate cheese into a healthy, balanced diet this January

Breakfast: a protein packed omelette is a great way to start your day, try using up any veg that you have in the fridge, paired with a lower fat cheese.

Lunch: it’s a go-to favourite, but pairing a bowl of hearty soup with cheese on toast is a winning combination. By adding a lower fat cheese to your toast, you’re increasing the protein content of your meal, whilst keeping the fat content low - and adding all that melted cheesy goodness. Win win.

Dinner: go for your family favourite, simply switch up the cheese for a lower fat alternative. It’s less about big diet overhauls, and all about those healthy little sustainable swaps.

Happy days – now I can have my January cheese, and eat it!

Laura Billington is a cookbook writer and founder of Graze Cheshire, where you’ll find recipes and grazing board inspiration for every occasion.

I: @grazecheshire