That's right...with February ratings sweeps upon us, the news media has jumped on the latest diet craze, and television news shows can't produce stories fast enough touting Dr. Sanford Siegal's "Cookie Diet."
Florida diet doctor Sanford Siegal is author of the 2001 book "Is Your Thyroid Making Your Fat?" -- which suggested going on an 800-calorie a day diet to test and see if you had a thyroid problem. After 21 days on a ultra low 800 calories a day, a low level of weight loss or failure to lose are both considered evidence of a likely thyroid slowdown, according to Siegal. You've read about Siegal in the past here at the About.com Thyroid site. Siegal, who has treated many thyroid patients at his weight loss clinic, shared his thoughts in 2001 on the Synthroid contoversy.
And back in 2002, Dr. Sanford Siegal and I were together featured in a Woman's World magazine article, titled "The Thyroid Cure." That magazine included a recipe for "thyroid-boosting diet cookies." The Woman's World recipe was loaded with sugar, eggs, oats, Chex cereal, and other high-fat, high starch, high-sugar ingredients, and according to Dr. Siegal, had nothing to do with his actual cookie recipe. (Read what Dr. Siegel has to say about the Woman's World "thyroid-boosting diet cookie" recipe and whether these cookies would actually help you lose weight.)
Now, Siegal is back in the news again, this time with a repackaging of the famous "cookies" and a major marketing push to promote what is now being called the "Cookie Diet," on which Siegal claims patients lose 15 pounds per month.
How Does the Cookie Diet Work?
Siegal's plan is actually a very low-calorie diet, in which six of the special Siegal cookies are eaten when hungry during the day, along with eight glasses of liquid, and only one meal is eaten, dinner, consisting of 6 ounces of lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish or seafood only), plus one cup of vegetables.
The total calorie count of the diet comes out to approximately 800 calories per day, and total carbohydrate intake is about 70 grams per day, making Siegal's program an extremely low-calorie, low carbohydrate diet.
What is not as frequently mentioned is that reportedly, as many as 60 percent of patients on the Cookie Diet are also prescribed appetite suppressant drugs, and another 25 percent are prescribed thyroid hormones.
The cookies, which Siegal claims have amino acids with appetite suppressant properties, are available in chocolate, raisin or coconut flavors, but even Siegal admits that they don't taste very good. Don't look for them on your local store shelves anytime soon, however. Siegal's cookies are available only to patients at his weight loss clinics (five are in Florida, and one is in Montreal), as part of his estimated $400 a month weight loss treatment program.
Is the Diet Effective?
Some weight loss experts say that any diet that provides only 800 calories a day is bound to work, but at what price? Critics say that the diet provides far too few calories to maintain health and energy, and is seriously lacking in fruits and vegetables. (1 cup a day of vegetables doesn't make a dent in the recommendation that we eat 5-9 servings a day of vegetables and fruit). Others have alleged that the Cookie Diet doesn't provide sufficient vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Even Siegal admits that the Cookie Diet is not meant to be used for long periods of time. Many diet experts say that once people resume normal eating habits, they will regain the weight lost on drastic diets like this one.
What Can You Safely Do to Lose Weight?
In the meantime, put down that box of Oreos, and start thinking about what you CAN you do to safely lose weight!
First...get your thyroid tested. Experts now estimate that as many as 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem, with the vast majority undiagnosed. Since thyroid problems can cause weight gain -- or make it impossible to lose weight -- even with proper diet and exercise, this should be an important first step. Are you wondering if your thyroid might be contributing to your weight problem? Here are three steps to take to find out.
- Take a Quiz -- Could You Have a Thyroid Problem?
- Take a Second Quiz: Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?
- Fill Out The Hypothyroidism Risks/Symptoms Checklist