The other day at the dairy aisle of the supermarket, nostalgia reared its head as I overheard a little girl innocently insult her grandmother. As I reached for my goat kefir — and grandma her cottage cheese carton — we both heard a soft voice from below ask: “So is that why you have cottage cheese thighs, grandma?”
Cellulite (or bulging subcutaneous fat within connective tissue) tends to deposit itself in targeted areas like the buttocks, thighs, abdomen and back of arms creating a lumpy, bumpy, dimpling appearance. This common condition, which affects women to a greater degree than men, gives rise to such offensive labels as “cottage cheese or orange-peel skin,” “hail zone,” and “mattress phenomenon.” Take heart. By following a dedicated exercise regime and optimum diet, you can kick cellulite to the curb before the start of swimsuit season.
• Indulge in tropical beauts like papayas and guavas, as well as dark purple berries that rev up the production of collagen (a structural protein found in connective tissue in skin’s second dermis layer), for greater skin elasticity, and a smoother, firmer texture. The vibrant anthocyanin pigments in berries, such as acai, blueberries, boysenberries and blackberries are also a mighty source of flavonoids with antioxidant powers to target cellulite pockets, and break down pesky fat cells lodged in connective tissue.
• Swap out inflammation-provoking red meat for anti-inflammatory red snapper or other omega-3 fatty acid powerhouses, especially wild-caught, deep sea, cold-water ones like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Grill, bake, poach, grind into burgers, whip into omelets, flake into salads or hearty grains like quinoa or brown rice. These sea treasures lubricate the dermis, and repair and fortify connective tissue, increasing circulation and reducing the accumulation of toxins. Salmon, in particular, has a rich store of astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that has been found to dissolve fat cells found in cellulite.
• Toss raw sunflower seeds in both sweet and savory salads, on top of yoghurt parfaits, blend in smoothies and granolas, muffins and pancakes, or pulverize into a creamy butter (see recipe). These tiny, yet potent, kernels packed with linoleic, folic and oleic acids, Vitamin E, a slew of trace minerals, and B-complex vitamins — especially B6’s — ward off cellulite by metabolizing proteins that ratchet up connective tissue, as well as balancing fluids, which minimize the appearance of dimpling.
• Need I twist your arm with a chunk of chocolate? Bittersweet is best containing 60 percent or higher cocoa content, and a load of healthful flavonoid antioxidants (epicatechins, catechins, and procyanidins). These blissful miracle workers amp up cellular functions, building new skin cells, while breaking down fat cells. Anything you do with chocolate is divine whether fondues with fresh or dried fruits, luscious mousses, airy soufflés, fudgy brownies or shaved on parfaits or gelatos.
• Other cellulite foes include: sassy cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, green and white herbal teas, naturally cleansing apple cider vinegar, bright green herbs like parsley and cilantro, and anti-inflammatory spices, such as turmeric and saffron. Standing advice: Drink plenty of water daily. Follow the 8 by 8 rule, keeping well hydrated with eight 8-ounce glasses of H2O throughout the day to flush out toxins and impurities. For a more palatable swig add a splash of pomegranate or tangerine juice or float some purple berries or cucumber slices on top.
• Remember to steer clear of: refined white sugar and flour, processed meats and cheeses loaded with nitrates and hormones, fried and junk foods of all manners, and alcohol — sources of sodium and empty calories found to exacerbate cellulite formation.
Recipe: Sunflower Seed Butter
• Ingredients: 2 cups of raw, organic sunflower seeds; 2 teaspoons of nut oil (walnut, almond) or avocado or coconut oil; 1 tablespoon of creamy, raw honey; pink salt to taste; a few drops of vanilla or almond extract (optional).
• Method: Add ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend to desired consistency. Chill in an airtight Mason jar until ready to enjoy. Spread on bread of choice with organic fruit preserves, fill the hollows of crisp celery sticks, or use as a dipping paste for cut apples, carrot sticks, dates or other favorites.