Forget fat jabs. The hot ‘new’ diet craze is… cottage cheese! Shame it looks like cellulite and tastes like milk left in the sun for a week, says CLAUDIA CONNELL
How many times have you recently bumped into an acquaintance who looked suspiciously hollow-cheeked, where they used to carry a few extra pounds and thought to yourself: ‘Aha, Ozempic!’
The injectable drug, which acts as an appetite suppressant, has become a weight-loss buzzword, used by everyone from A-listers and politicians to friends and colleagues.
But Ozempic’s crown may soon be usurped by a product that promises to be the next holy grail of weight loss: SiPore.
The drinkable gel (don’t stab yourself with a needle for this one) contains silica, which is said to slow down the digestive process to make you feel fuller longer. Still in the clinical trial phase, it is expected to be available by 2025.
But what if you’re needle-phobic and can’t wait two years for weird-sounding silica?
Despite the success of the new Ozempic weight loss exercise, Gen Z social media users have taken after a much older – and humbler – dieter’s magic bullet: cottage cheese
Well, there’s an unlikely third magic bullet for dieters that social media can’t seem to get enough of right now: cottage cheese.
Juicy yet chewy. Woman but messy. Fresh but rotten. Curd may be one of the dirtiest foods ever invented, and it was the debilitating bane of my teenage years when I ate tubs of the stuff.
But after years in the dietary wilderness, thanks to the newest, trendiest diets, it’s back in fashion.
Supermarkets are reporting a boom in sales – and it’s largely due to Gen Z, who seem strangely obsessed with the things their mothers and grandmothers forced them to downsize when they tried to make ends meet decades ago.
Cottage cheese-related videos on TikTok have reached more than 450 million views, including recipes for cakes, ice cream and savory snacks.
The fad for paleo and ketogenic diets, which are high in protein and low in carbs—popularized by fitness guru Joe Wicks—makes it the perfect choice.
It is considered a ‘complete protein’ as it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. It is also high in calcium and B vitamins.
What a shame then that it looks exactly like cellulite, the thing most people are trying to avoid when they eat it.
When I was a child, every grown woman in my life seemed to be on the Scarsdale Diet, a draconian two-week calorie-restricting plan where dieters could lose up to a stone in weight, with cottage cheese playing a key role.
It’s no wonder that when I was a teenager at my girls’ school in the early 1980s, curd was a staple in our lunchboxes.
Cottage cheese-related videos on TikTok, including recipes for cakes, ice creams and delicacies, have been viewed more than 450 million times
Obsessed with being able to zip up our draining jeans at the weekend, we dieted during the week in preparation.
We thought that eating cottage cheese and Ryvita at lunchtime (with a radish on top, if we were feeling particularly fancy) was the height of sophistication.
The little yogurt-like carton packs were made by a company called Eden Vale. The good news was that they were only 99 calories.
The bad news was that, after three hours in a lunchbox inside a school locker, a faint smell like vomit would fill the room when you opened the pot.
Next you will need to strain off the warm dark liquid whey that has collected on top of the cheese. Yum!
We spooned it into our fresh breads, trying hard not to boil it with each mouthful.
The taste lingered, too, as it had a nasty habit of coating the roof of the mouth and tongue for hours afterwards.
There must have been prisoners eating tastier food than we did at that time. But if it meant losing a few pounds and looking as good in our skinny jeans as Shirlie and Dee C Lee in Wham! video, then it was worth the pain.
By the time I hit my 20s, cottage cheese had fallen out of favor; tomato soup powder was the way to go when I wanted to lose some holiday weight.
With an ingredient list that looked more like a chemistry experiment, the meal replacement packages were clearly not real food. But I still drank liters all the same.
Deeming cottage cheese ‘one of the worst foods ever invented’ for its strange texture and distinctive flavour, Claudia Connell just can’t get behind this particular diet trend.
The tomato was the only flavor that was mildly delicious, as the vegetables in the other dry soups stayed hard, like little pieces of gravel.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I started following popular diet plans. WeightWatchers was a huge success – at first.
I enjoyed the company of attending classes and hit the target in just three months. Although the 50-year-old now laughs heartily at the fact that I was only a 10 and a size 12 when I joined – a ‘fat’ weight and size I’d give anything to be today.
Twenty years later, I still remember them giving me 13 points a day; a can of tomatoes on toast was only three points, so it became a daily staple.
Jelly in its undigested state had no point at all, meaning I spent many weeks eating almost nothing but tomatoes and jelly.
I celebrated reaching 8 pounds 8 by going out. . . a lot. This, of course, meant eating and drinking, and by the time I hit 40, I was pushing 12.
This time, I jumped on the low carb. I bought the Atkins diet book and ate more meat than the average cougar.
Bacon and sausage for breakfast, chicken for lunch and more meat for dinner. No potatoes.
You were allowed cheese, but if you couldn’t have bread or crackers, then what was the point? You were allowed cream, but if you can’t eat cake, how are you going to eat it?
I didn’t become one of those women who threw canned goods directly into their mouths. . . but i thought about it.
As a teenager eager to lose weight, Claudia ate boxes of yogurt-like curds, which contained just 99 calories (stock image)
Atkins did not work for me. While friends were losing weight, I didn’t lose a pound and felt relieved most of the time.
Then came the Dukan diet, which began with a two-week ‘attack plan’ of no dairy, sugar or carbohydrates.
Forced to eat little more than chicken, shrimp, and low-fat cottage cheese, I lost about two pounds and suffered the worst migraine of my life.
I had some success with the one meal a day (aka OMAD) plan. Initially, I lost a stone by eating a satisfying and balanced lunchtime meal.
But then my single meal started to get more and more epic, containing more calories than I usually ate over three meals. Surprise, surprise, the weight came back.
The thing is, yo-yo dieters like me all know, deep down, that there is no wonder drug or magic pill, no thin elixir that works long term, other than eating sensibly.
Bravely, however, we always pursue the next great solution. Another trend that other (thinner) people seem to swear by.
This is why I tried the Saxenda weight loss jab last year. Contains the diabetes drug liraglutide, it works in the same way as semaglutide, which goes by the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy.
Injected daily, instead of weekly, it is said to stop cravings to the extent that the user sometimes forgets to eat. Now, that would be a miracle indeed.
I took the first dose and woke up the next day with the thought of breakfast, or any kind of food, turning my stomach.
As schoolgirls, Claudia and her friends thought that eating cottage cheese and Ryvita for lunch was the height of sophistication, despite the ‘weak puke breath’ their pots gave off.
By the second day, I could barely force down a slice of toast and an apple, but I had terrible stomach pains and cramps.
On the third day, I set out to meet a friend and – out of nowhere – spontaneously vomited on the street in front of horrified onlookers.
I climbed into my bed and decided that this was the end of Saxenda for me. I’ll do a lot of things to be skinny, but beating myself up in front of the neighbors isn’t one of them.
Reading the details about SiPore, I have to say that’s not very appealing either – there have to be better ways to feel full than ingesting microscopic doses of silica.
Which, of course, brings us back to the dreaded curd. To do it, enzymes or live cultures of bacteria are added to milk, separating the curds (milk solids, fats and proteins) from the whey (liquid).
However, despite its shortcomings, cottage cheese is a ‘complete protein’ as it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. It is also high in calcium and B vitamins
Being a fairly simple process, many people are now doing it themselves at home – you can do it using white vinegar, or buy rennet, a mixture of enzymes, online – trying to jazz things up with flavoring different and posting the results on social media.
Good for them. I’ll pass though. To me, it will always look like bleached frog and taste like milk that has been left in the blazing sun for a week.
Besides, my dreams of fitting into size 10 drainpipes have been replaced with those of zipping up a size 14 blazer.
So yes, a small portion of the lumpy stuff might only be 99 calories — but so is a banana, and guess which one I’ll go for?
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