There is no tooth fairy. There’s no Easter bunny. There’s not even a Santa Claus. There are no geese that lay golden eggs. There’s no golden fleece. And there are no simple ways to lose weight. But what about the so-called cookie diet that everyone is excited about? Basically, lots of hype, lots of hope and lots of failures. The cookie diet was the brainchild of Dr. Sanford Siegal who back in 1957 had so many overweight patients in his practice that he decided to do something about it. He knew the secret to weight loss, which of course is no secret. You have to severely restrict calorie intake. Put people on an 800 calorie a day diet and they will lose weight. It doesn’t matter if it’s 800 calories worth of chocolate, broccoli or butterfly wings. The problem is to find a low calorie diet that is healthy and that people can stick to. That would be the Holy Grail of weight loss. Siegal claimed that he found a regimen that worked. He concocted a diet that allowed people to eat six special cookies containing a total of 500 calories every day followed by a 300 calorie dinner. The cookies are formulated from common grains, mainly oats, rice and wheat, and contain a secret blend of amino acids that Siegal claims reduce the craving for food. Soon he was putting his patients on the “cookie diet” although he hated that name. His favoured description was “a diet that uses a cookie as an adjunct to losing weight. Siegal opened a string of medical centers in Florida where he examined overweight patients and put them on his diet.
Dr. Sasson Moulavi, a physician who also specialized in weight loss liked Siegal’s game and thought it could zoom to new heights with proper promotion. And he was just the man to do it. He made Siegal an offer whereby he would set up a series of weight control centers based on the cookies that Siegal would supply. They would split the profits. By 2006 the relationship has soured with Moulavi accusing Siegal of supplying sub-standard cookies. They split, with Moulavi starting up his own business, The Smart for Life Cookie Diet. He developed his own secret recipe because Siegal had never revealed his; to this day it sits in a bank vault, to be opened by Siegal’s son on his death. In 2008 Moulavi’s company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the company somehow still carries on, as does Siegal with his original cookies. The cookie wars are in full swing. Are the cookies really worth fighting over? Maybe. At ten dollars a day, they do bring in the dough. But what about results? There is short term weight loss, no doubt about that. As much as 10-15 pounds a month. But how long can someone live on a cookie diet, and what happens after? Well, what happens after is that they usually regain the weight, just like with all the other gimmicky diets. Siegal and Moulavi claim that long term weight loss can be achieved. If that is the case, why haven’t they published their data? That would be Nobel Prize material. Furthermore, this diet is a nutritional pauper when it comes to fruits and vegetables and while vitamin supplements are recommended, we know that there are many other phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables probably more important than vitamins. There is no real harm in a desperate soul seeking some immediate weight loss trying the cookie diet, but unless there is a commensurate life style change, failure is inevitable. That's the way the cookie crumbles. And I predict the same effect for the cookie diet empire.