The Cookie Diet... Really?

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In the last few years, I've noticed that more people are beginning to embrace the idea that weight loss involves making healthy food choices and lifestyle changes. This comes as welcome news to myself and all of the other dietitians out there who have been trying to promote that very idea for years. But then, another fad diet emerges which starts to cast doubt, and those who have been trying to escape the dieting mentality once and for all begin to wonder if this new plan may just be the one that finally works…..enter the Cookie Diet!

The Cookie Diet is not a new diet or new concept for that matter, but lately it's been getting some attention. It was originally created in 1975 by Dr. Sanford Siegel, a Miami physician who made this diet available to his patients for many years.

The diet premise is fairly straightforward and simple: Eat one low calorie meal a day and 6 pre-packaged cookies purchased at the doctors office for a cost of approximately $56 per week. The cookies have added protein and fiber. People on the Cookie Diet are also supposed to take supplemental vitamins and minerals to prevent any nutritional inadequacies.

Several years ago the website, was launched. The website was a huge success and then the "cookies" started to become available in stores like GNC or Walgreens. Other "cookie diets" with similar products have now emerged. Throw in a few celebrity endorsements and you have another fad diet on the rise.

The popularity of this or any quick fix diet is not surprising. With the promise of minimal effort and great results, who wouldn't want lose weight by eating cookies? After all, cookies are generally a forbidden food in most weight loss diet plans.

But now for the reality check. The low calorie meal prescribed (fish or skinless chicken with a vegetable) plus the 6 cookies are going to provide 1000 calories or less per day. Can the average person lose weight that way? Of course! Can the average person be healthfully sustained on a diet of 1000 calories or less a day? No. Quick weight loss on very low calorie diets can be unsafe and cause other health problems such as electrolyte imbalances or gallstones.

Weight loss plans that center around a specific food or supplement are hard to stay on for any length of time. Even if the cookies taste really good, most people will quickly tire of eating the same food day after day. When the diet has been abandoned (like its predecessors), what has the dieter learned about making meaningful behavioral change to help them maintain a healthy weight? Probably not very much.

Unfortunately, fad diets do little more than misinform the public and keep the dieting mentality alive. Here are a few pointers to help you spot and avoid the fad diets that are long on promises but short on results:

* Eating plans that suggest elimination of entire groups of foods or elimination of many foods
* Eating plans that are too regimented or have too many "rules"
* Diet plans that emphasize supplements or products that take the place of food
* Eating plans that restrict calories below basal metabolic needs (usually less that 1200 calories per day)

There are no quick fixes for people who are trying to lose weight. It takes time, it takes diligence, and it requires change in behaviors that eventually emerge into positive eating and lifestyle habits. Eat well, be well and enjoy a variety of healthy foods!

© 2011, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author, consultant and health coach. Gretchen has worked one on one with hundreds of clients in her own private nutrition practice since 2002. If you would like to work with Gretchen as an online coach please visit or call 845-831-7258 to schedule your half hour complimentary wellness coaching session.

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