In defense of cheese plates

I get migraines.

I don’t get debilitating migraines, but when I get them, I experience an aura (aka scintillating scotoma, which I can best describe as a colorful, pulsating hole in one’s vision), I generally can’t drive for 27 minutes (yes – 27), and I’m treated to a 36-hour dull headache. My experience is so much milder than most people’s migraines, I hesitate to even mention it. Also, this is a food and brewery blog, so why bring it up at all?

The author of this site is not a doctor.

I am completely unqualified to administer medical advice of any kind.

To answer that, I’ll say this:

I am not a doctor.

I am not a doctor. I’m not a dentist, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a scientist, I’m not an engineer, and I’m not a trillion other things. Do not ever take medical, dental, or engineering advice from me. In fact, you should consult a doctor before reading the balance of this post.

One thing I do know a bit about is cheese plates. I know they get a bad rap from time to time. They’re often viewed as yuppie-riffic, elitist, highfalutin, condescending platters full of overpri¢ed chunks of old milk, tiny, wrinkled fruit, and spicy/pricey tree nuts.

photo of arrogant cheese on plate

Typical pompous, snooty-ass cheese plate at Mateo in Boulder


So… why should this matter to people who like to eat or folks who suffer from migraines? The answer is:


If you’re unfamiliar with electrolytes, here’s a concise Wikipedia explanation of why electrolytes are useful:

“Electrolyte replacement is needed when a patient has prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, and as a response to strenuous athletic activity.” 

Common electrolytes, to my surprise, include words I’m familiar with, such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Also, just another quick reminder that:

I am not a doctor, nor am I a physician.

Also, the above is hopefully my final mention of vomiting or diarrhea on this blog.

My migraines are sports induced, meaning: the only time I experience them is after playing sports. A friend who experiences serious migraines advised me to drink sports drinks to replenish my electrolytes before, during, and after soccer games, racquet sports, etc. I’m a bit leery of the chemical and sugar content associated with popular sports drinks, so I began brainstorming alternative ways to load up on electrolytes before sports.

Which brings us to the much-maligned cheese plate.

On a standard cheese plate, one might find:

  • cheese (duh)
  • fruit (figs, grapes, dates, raisins, apple slices, jam, berries)
  • cured meats
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • pickled vegetables
  • olives
  • bread or crackers
  • dark chocolate

You can probably see where I’m going with this: a cheese plate is a veritable gold mine of electrolytes. Break down the platter, and you get:

  • calcium (cheese)
  • potassium (dried fruits, dark chocolate)
  • sodium (cheese, meats, nuts, bread, crackers, olives)
  • phosphorus (cheese, nuts, meats, seeds)
  • magnesium (nuts, dark chocolate, seeds)

I started eating a combination of almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, raisins, and cheese before my games, and I haven’t had a migraine since. I think of it as a healthy, yuppie trail mix packed with stuff that may help you continue to see straight after bending it (like Beckham).

I hope you never get migraines, but if you do, I empathize. Maybe eating a sensibly sized cheese plate before you tear it up on the field, court, or rink will work for you, but maybe it won’t. Consult your damn physician, and go enjoy a cheese plate with a friend either way.

Blackbelly Boulder cheese plate

Giant pile of electrolytes on a Blackbelly cheese plate in Boulder

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