Can we eat raclette or cheese fondue—typical food from Switzerland—and be healthy?

I used to live in Geneva, Switzerland, the paradise of chocolate and cheese. I can stop myself from eating chocolate, but cheese... I am an addict. I’m not astonished that a recent study came out saying that cheese is crack; it is as addictive as drugs.

In winter, our favorite dishes are fondue and raclette. I am sure you are familiar with fondue, but believe me the fondue you eat in the US has nothing to do with the real one from the Alps. Our specialty fondue is "moitie/moitie” (half/half). The main ingredients are Gruyère and Vacherin from Fribourg. These cheeses are melted in a fondue pot rubbed with garlic and white wine. This fondue can be enjoyed with bread cut into large pieces. Raclette is a different story. It is a semi-hard cheese from Valais region. Usually, you heat the cheese in the machine and scrap the melted part. The raclette is enjoyed with boiled baby potatoes. I prefer to eat the raclette than the fondue, and I eat it without the potatoes...

The cheese fondue

The cheese fondue

The raclette

The raclette

I hope your mouth is watering because mine is. Needless to say, these are very heavy dishes. After you eat them you’ll spend the day or night trying to digest them. Once in a while it is worth it, and if you are a cheese addict like me you will enjoy every bite of it.

Now you must be thinking, “how come a health coach and someone who preaches about eating healthy talks about these dishes?” The answer is simple: healthy doesn't only mean eating the right thing; healthy also means being happy. I don't eat these dishes every day, but when I go back home in the winter, I need to have my raclette with no guilt.

Although I am Lebanese and Turkish I lived most of my life in Switzerland. You know that our comfort food, is the food that we grow up with. So besides my mother's yummy dishes, the cheese dishes—especially la raclette—are my comfort foods. Maybe that's why I am addicted to it. It makes me happy.

What is your comfort food? Did you ever sit and think about it? I encourage you to do the exercise and share it with me.

Nathalie Botros