In 1975, I created the concept of a weight loss system that features a special cookie to control hunger. During the past 33 years, my system and cookie and other foods have helped more than 500,000 of my own patients and those of about 200 other doctors lose weight. The day that I introduced my system in 1975, the public and countless media outlets branded it "the cookie diet" and me "the cookie doctor".
Of course, whenever you're successful, there will be imitators. It took thirty years for them to start arriving on the scene but today there are at least three companies that offer products or services that use the term "cookie diet" in their names. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If it is then I have an awful lot to be flattered about lately. To be honest, however, I'm not flattered. I'm all for free enterprise and, to be sure, nobody ever said that an idea had to be original be successful. However, in the case of the cookie diets, I'm concerned that there are many people who think they're getting the real Dr. Siegal'sģCOOKIE DIETô when they're actually getting something else.
I'm writing this blog (which is also being inserted at the last minute as a chapter in my next book) in order to help people distinguish between the original cookie-based diet that has received so much publicity over the past three decades and those that have arrived very late to the party.
SIX COOKIES, ONE MEAL-A-DAY, 800 CALORIES, AND HYPOTHYROIDISM
The essence of my system is simple. First, my patient undergoes a typical medical history and examination, including an EKG and various laboratory tests. She (most of my patients are women) then begins an 800 calorie-a-day diet that includes six of my hunger-controlling cookies (more on those in a moment). During her first month on my diet, my patient carefully tracks her weight loss. At the end of the first 28 days, I use the data she has gathered and a formula that I developed to help me assess whether she has a sluggish metabolism caused by a condition called hypothyroidism. I estimate that about one quarter of patients who come to me have this condition but don't know it. It's difficult to lose weight if you have hypothyroidism and yet it is easily corrected with medication. If you suspect that you have an underactive thyroid even though conventional lab tests and your own doctor say otherwise, consider reading my last book, Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat? (2000, Warner Books).
WHY I DEVELOPED THE CONCEPT OF A COOKIE DIET
In the early 1970's, after treating overweight patients exclusively for more than a decade, I came to the conclusion that hunger is the primary cause of diet failures. Through trial and error, I had determined that 800 calories a day produces the fastest rate of true fat loss and is quite safe under the supervision of a trained physician. Of course, without strong hunger suppression, an 800 calorie diet would be difficult to follow due to hunger. I knew that, if I could control their hunger, I could help my patients faithfully follow the low calorie diet that I favored.
At about the same time, I was writing a book on the subject of natural food substances that are hunger suppressing. It was already known that some foods suppress hunger better than others and that some even stimulate hunger. Not surprisingly, foods that offer the greatest hunger control are the ones with lots of calories from fat. I decided to try to create a food that was particularly controlling of hunger while relatively low in calories.
After several years of experimentation in my home kitchen, I developed a blend of particular amino acids (food proteins) that proved to be quite hunger suppressing and I baked it into a cookie. I chose a cookie because it's durable; doesn't need refrigeration; fits in a purse or briefcase; and is enjoyed by nearly everyone. I was careful to make my cookie taste good but not too good.
In my home kitchen, I baked batches of oatmeal raisin cookies containing my secret formula and gave them to a handful of patients. I told them to eat six of my cookies throughout the day to control hunger and no other food whatsoever. For dinner, I instructed them to eat six ounces of lean chicken, fish or turkey and one cup of non-starchy, green vegetables. My cookies provided these patients with about 500 calories and the dinner about 300 calories per day.
The results were dramatic and overwhelmingly positive. My patients loved the convenience of my cookie. Even more, they loved the results. Without significant hunger, my typical patient lost about fifteen pounds per month. Within a few years, my practice exploded. It grew to two dozen clinics in Florida and Latin America. By the late 1980's I was supplying my cookies (and shakes and soup with the same hunger-controlling formula) to 200 other doctors for use in their own practices.
ENTER SMART FOR LIFE WEIGHT MANANGEMENT CENTERS
If you've been following the tale of the cookie diets for awhile, you may already know that before it was called Smart for Life it was called Siegal Smart for Life. I'll explain how that came about.
In late 2001, I was contacted by a Canadian doctor named Sasson Moulavi who requested and received my permission to open weight loss clinics called Siegal Weight Management (later renamed Siegal Smart for Life) that used my six-cookies-a-day weight loss system and hunger controlling foods. Based on his initial success, Moulavi came back to me and obtained the right, as my franchisee, to sell Siegal sub-franchises. Within a few years there were dozens of Siegal Smart for Life centers in such metropolitan areas as Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Tampa and Montreal.
An important part of my agreement with Moulavi was that his centers could not use any hunger-controlling cookies, shakes and soup other than mine. Furthermore, he was forbidden by the agreement to even research how to manufacture competing products, let alone to actually do it.
In August 2006, despite our agreement and the fact that Siegal Smart for Life was growing rapidly, I received a letter from Moulavi announcing the immediate end to our agreement. Almost immediately, Siegal Smart for Life was just Smart for Life and was offering its own brand of cookies, shakes and soup. Thankfully, I never had shared my secret hunger-controlling formula with Moulavi and it is therefore not to be found in his products.
The story doesn't end there. If you 're interested in the fascinating conclusion, I'll direct you to an excellent newspaper article on the subject that was published in the April 17, 2008 issue of the Broward/Palm Beach edition of New Times. The lengthy article provides a remarkably detailed account of my entire relationship with Moulavi from the beginning up until the present time (April 2008). The article is posted on CookieDiet.com but you can get to it directly by clicking this link: www.browardpalmbeach.com/2008-04-17/news/cookie-monsters/
HOLLYWOOD COOKIE DIET
As I recall, it was sometime in June 2006 that a self-proclaimed "diet guru" named Jamie Kabler began selling a box of cookies under the name Hollywood Cookie Diet. You may have heard of Kabler. He's the same fellow who previously brought you the Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet (and later, perhaps for those in a hurry, the 24-Hour version). These earlier products are blends of fruit juices that use "Lose Up to Five Pounds in 24 Hours" as a slogan. Now, I'm just a medical doctor, not an ordained diet guru, but it seems to me that any juice that produces five pounds of weight loss in 48 hours is flushing away a lot of material of which body fat is not a significant component.
As for his so-called Hollywood Cookie Diet, I have to commend Kabler for not making false claims for it. In fact, except for occasional words like "miracle" and "magic" I wasn't able to find any claims at all on his web site. There's no specific information about how the cookies aid in weight loss or even that they do so. The product's marketing slogan is "The First Delicious Way to Lose Weight!"
If you believe that true weight loss can be achieved through magic, miracles and the consumption of delicious foods then I believe your prospect for success is the only thing that will ever be slim.
AND THIS JUST IN FROM JAPAN
Very recently, a product called Soypal Cookie Diet popped up online. I don't know anything about it. However, I will infer from its name that it may be high in soy protein. If that's the case then here's a word of caution. Based on my experience with my own patients, I estimate that low thyroid function is a contributing factor in the excess weight of about one in four overweight people. Why is that relevant? Because recent published studies have linked low thyroid hormone levels to the consumption of soy protein. For that reason, I have intentionally left out soy protein from all Dr. Siegal'sģ COOKIE DIETô products. Furthermore, in my own practice, we discourage patients from consuming soy protein.
COOKIES DON'T MAKE PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT
Losing weight is nobody's idea of fun even under the best of circumstances. It takes discipline and determination to achieve your goal. I've used Dr. Siegal'sģ COOKIE DIET ô to help more than a half million people lose weight. The weight loss that those people experienced was not the result of eating cookies. It was the result of adhering to a reduced-calorie diet which was only possible because of the hunger-controlling properties of a particular cookieómy cookie.
Free enterprise is alive and well in America. I expect more ersatz "cookie diets" to appear. I'll leave it to the consumers and patients to decide whether to trust the knockoffs or the real McCoy.
Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D.
April 23, 2008
I was on national TV over the weekend. E! Entertainment Network ran a two-hour special about diets that included a three-minute profile of me, my South Florida medical practice, and my Dr. Siegalísģ COOKIE DIETô weight loss system and products. I knew that I would be included in the show because several months ago the producer and camera crew spent a day in one of my South Florida clinics interviewing my patients and me and seeing how weíve used my cookie-based diet in my practice during the past 33 years. Although Iíd known for months that the show would be aired in early January, I didnít know the title or even much about the subject. I just knew that Iíd be in it.
It wasnít until a few days before the show first aired on January 5th that I learned that it was called THS Investigates: Diet Fads. That concerned me a bit. How can the word ďfadĒ apply to a weight loss program that has been in existence virtually unchanged for three decades and has helped more than 500,000 people? It canít apply, not accurately anyway, and Iím happy to say that the producers saw it that way, too. I was relieved when, early in my segment, they singled out my diet from the scores of true fad diets that were mentioned by explicitly declaring: ďDr. Siegalís COOKIE DIET is hardly a flash-in-the-pan fad.Ē
Now, as for the show, I have to say that I was very impressed. In fact, despite the fact that it was produced by a network known for entertainment rather than news, the program presented an excellent overview of dozens of weight loss products and systems ranging from the sensible to the amusing to the downright terrifying. The producers included a few legitimate approaches like Atkins, Zone and mine, as well as many bizarre ones. There was a doctor who endeavors to treat obesity by prescribing his patients medications for depression, diabetes and other serious conditions that they donít necessarily have.
Not everyone who weighed in had a medical background. There was a tapeworm advocate and a parade of astrologers, mystics, self-anointed wellness gurus, nutritionists, and entertainment celebrities. Despite the fact that none of these people have ever helped even one sick person get well, they nevertheless enthusiastically offered up an astonishing amount of nutritional nonsense and advice that, fortunately, was far too impractical and ridiculous for most people to actually act upon. I loved the guy who advocates an extreme form of veganism. Iím not exactly sure of the parameters of his eating guidelines; I think he eats only raw foods not derived from animal products, that donít cast a shadow, and whose names do not contain vowels. My favorite, however, was the vegan chef. My wife and I almost fell off the sofa when he admitted in a matter of fact way that following his approach takes a little getting used to given that it takes five hours to prepare a meal.
When it comes to diet scams, itís hard to shock me. Iíve spent many years researching hundreds of years of weight loss miracle cures and Iím an avid collector of advertisements for such products. In fact, the montage of old black & white ads you saw in the beginning of the E! program was filmed in my office.
Iím 79 years old. Iíve been a physician for fifty years and have helped hundreds of thousands of patients lose many millions of pounds. How? By controlling their hunger and enabling them to consume fewer calories than they need to maintain their weight (which, by the way, is the only way to truly burn fat). The key to my programís success is that itís so practical. No leaches, no tarot cards, no psychoanalyzing your carrots before you eat them. Just a hunger-controlling cookie and a sensible, calorie-restricted diet.
If you saw the show, Iíd love to hear your comments about it. In particular, do you feel as I do that the producers did a good job of differentiating the serious diets from the scams? Feel free to email me. Iíll be in Phoenix this weekend attending grand opening events for two new Dr. Siegalísģ COOKIE DIETô retail locations but Iíll be checking my email for your comments when I return next week.
Oprah announces to the world that she has a thyroid problem and automatically, and perhaps inadvertently, she helps perhaps millions of people with a particularly cruel illness. I wish I had that kind of star power. I could single-handedly wipe out a major cause of obesity.
Oprah Winfreyís revelation last week that her weight problem is due to hypothyroidism has raised awareness of an ailment about which I have been preaching for years. She has done a great service to millions of overweight people.
Hypothyroidism is an often undiagnosed disease that causes that causes a host of problems including obesity, fatigue, infertility, dry skin and nails, and depression. Ironically, as devastating as it can be to the afflicted, hypothyroidism is surprisingly easy and inexpensive to manage if only it is diagnosed and treated properly. Thatís a big ďifĒ.
In my last book, Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat? (Warner Books, 2000) , I exposed a problem that Iíve been seeing in countless patients over the years. So many of my patients suffer from an underactive metabolism caused by hypothyroidism and yet that fact was not discovered by their own doctors in spite of all the money spent on conventional laboratory tests.
In my book, I included my own 28-day self-test that I believe is more accurate than conventional lab tests in identifying an underactive thyroid.
Here are the numbers. In my South Florida medical practice, Siegal Medical Group, three out of four patients who follow our COOKIE DIETô to the letter lose weight at a very impressive rate of about 15 lbs. per month. One out of four of them, however, initially loses at a slower-than-expected rate and those cases trigger my suspicion of hypothyroidism. The patient may say to me, ďMy family doctor once did a blood test and said my thyroid is normal.Ē That no longer impresses me. After treating a half million or so overweight patients over the last 50 years and analyzing tens of thousands of thyroid function lab tests, I know that we doctors canít always rely on the lab. To prove my point, Iíve ordered the same thyroid function tests on the same patient several days in a row and gotten very different results each time.
Thereís a second problem associated with the diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism: the drug of choice for treating the condition. The most commonly prescribed drug is levothyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroid hormone. Based on my experience with hundreds of thousands of patients, Iím convinced that the natural form known as Armour thyroid or Thyroid USP is more effective. Natural thyroid is the only thyroid medication I prescribe for my own patients.
If youíre one of the one out of four overweight people who insist that your weight is not warranted by the quantity you eat, itís time to become a bit more assertive with the doctor who believes youíre a glutton. You might even ask him or her to read my book, Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat? I put a chapter in the book just for doctors which offers suggestions on how to spot your hypothyroidism when the lab tests fail.
Wishing you good health,
Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D.
I want to share with you a simple, do-it-yourself test to measure your cardiovascular risk. This potentially lifesaving self-exam is gaining popularity because it's quick, free, and can be performed at home. I promise that no gigantic and horrendous electronic tunnels are necessary, no needles, no fiendish instruments, and no health insurance-all you need is a tape measure and you're ready to go. This test is not all that new. It first appeared on the scene in the early '90's. Like every new development, it has had its detractors, but the consensus seems to be that it can help to predict if you're a candidate for a heart attack. A lot of doctors know about it, but probably too few take advantage of it. Are you ready? Here's what you do. First let's turn our attention to that tape measure. Make sure it's a good one, not some cheap thing that will stretch and give you the wrong measurements. Next, take off your clothes. (This is probably best performed in the privacy of your own home.) By the way, I highly recommend a "metric" tape measure. That's one that measures in centimeters rather than inches. It will make the later calculation so much easier. You won't have to remember that high school math class that talked about dividing fractions. Where can you get a metric tape measure? Almost anywhere. Try the fabric stores or the sewing shops, or the fabric sections of Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, and their ilk. You're going to take only two measurements, your waist and your hips, but let's get it right. Try very hard to apply the same amount of tension for each of the two measurements. No cheating. The idea isn't to get the smallest measurement. You're trying to get a comparison between your waist and your hips. Remember, the same pull on the tape measure for both parts. In both cases you want the biggest measurement for that area. Find the place on you waist where you get the biggest measurement and then do the same for your hips. Mark down the results. Quite simply, you are going to divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. You're going to hope that the result is less than 1, something like 0.7 or 0.8. If it's over 1, that's not good. It's then time to go to your doctor and tell him that you waist-hip ratio is 1 or more than 1. Let's practice with an example. Let's assume that you're the voluptuous female that you are. Your waist measures 70 centimeters at its widest part and you hips measure 88 centimeters at their widest part. Divide the 70 by 88. Your calculator reads 0.795. That's just fine. That's exactly what you want. Authorities seem to agree that ideally females should have a waist-hip ratio of between 0.7 and 0.8. Above 1.0 is bad. For males, the best number seems to be 0.9. (Have you noticed? Their hips are smaller.) Now what if you can't find a metric tape measure or you're just not receptive to change. You'll probably want to avoid dividing something like 30-1/8 inches by 36-5/8". The solution: round the numbers off to the nearest Ĺ' and express it as 0.5 inches. In the example just given, you would divide 30.0 by 36.5 inches and you would get 0.82. You could then jump up and down with joy. But if you are only 5'-2" tall and you weigh 142 pounds, you still have a problem. Get that weight off.
I don't usually joke about obesity. It's a serious subject. There's a new product out there, however, that's being promoted extensively, and I just couldn't keep my mouth shut. This wonderful pill doesn't come from some fly-by-night entrepreneur who makes it in his bathtub, but rather from a major pharmaceutical company.
This pill purports to stop the absorption of the fat that you eat. You can eat fat and oil, and supposedly it passes right through you without being absorbed. In other words, you don't get the calories. Sounds great, huh? Well, maybe not. Did I forget to mention fecal urgency?
You see, when fat passes through you unabsorbed, it can make its exit unexpectedly, uncontrollably, and spontaneously in its original form. Mineral oil does the same thing. This could be quite inconvenient and, in its literature, the drug company admits that this could be an annoyance. Personally, I think it could ruin your day or, at the very least, your dress.
Now, I wouldn't make too much out of this potentially inconvenient side effect. I mean, what's the big deal? Besides, the company does offer a perfectly reasonable suggestion to minimize any negative consequences that could result from the sudden explosive voiding of your bowels: consider wearing dark clothing while taking the drug.
Excuse me for even mentioning such revolting stuff but I was driving to work this morning when I had a sudden urge to leak this information.
Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ has been around for more than thirty years and has helped more than 500,000 people. I can assure you that, while using our products, you may wear any color clothing your heart desires.
Since launching our www.CookieDietOnline.com web site in May, I've received many emails from people asking about the history of the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™. The number of inquiries makes it impractical to answer everyone individually so I've decided to tell the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ story here.
BEFORE THE Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™
I began practicing medicine as a general practitioner in 1957. Almost immediately I noticed that a significant number of my patients were overweight and that, for many of them, their extra pounds appeared to be contributing to their health problems. I quickly realized that I needed to help them lose their excess weight if I was going to successfully treat the medical conditions it caused. By 1960 I was having such success treating obesity that I decided to devote my practice exclusively to the treatment of overweight patients.
For the next fifteen years or so, I used a variety of methods of treatment that included a reduced-calorie diet, exercise, and appetite-suppressant medications. In the early 1970s I became interested in the effects of high fiber diets in the treatment of obesity. After extensive research, I wrote one of the first books on the subject, Dr. Siegal's Natural Fiber Permanent Weight-Loss Diet (Dial Press, 1975).
Although my approach to weight loss produced good results, I was never satisfied with my patients' success rate. Many lost weight but others were unable to stick to the diet that I prescribed. The reason for their failure wasn't a lack of willpower, it was hunger. I knew that if I could control their hunger I could help many more patients stick to their diets and reach a healthy weight.
More than a year before my first book was published in 1975, I began research for a second book, Hunger Control Without Drugs (Macmillan, 1985), on a subject that has fascinated me throughout my career: the effect of various foods and food components (carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals) on hunger. Based on my personal experience, I suspected that certain foods were more effective than others at controlling hunger and that others actually stimulate hunger.
After two years of research in which I used my friends, family and myself as guinea pigs, I was certain that my hunch was correct. I had identified certain food components and cooking processes that produced surprisingly hunger-controlling foods. In my home kitchen I developed a particular formula containing certain food proteins called amino acids. I used my formula to create the first Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET food: an oatmeal raisin cookie. I chose a cookie as my first food because it didn't need heating or refrigeration and was portable (I wanted something that a woman could carry in her purse). Later I developed shakes and soup with the same hunger-controlling properties.
As you might guess, imitators have popped up, but none have our formula. I've personally received emails from people who've tried these knockoff products and found that they don't do much to control hunger. It's always gratifying to hear from people who've had success with our cookies and I welcome your comments, too. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
THE Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™
I began using the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ with a small number of patients in 1975. I instructed them to eat six cookies per day and one reasonable dinner consisting of low-fat protein and some vegetables. They were to eat the cookies not at fixed times but as needed to control hunger. It was that simple.
The effectiveness of the cookie was immediately apparent. Patients reported that their hunger was significantly reduced and that following the reduced-calorie diet was much easier. Soon many more patients were reaching their goals. Within eighteen months the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ was the only weight loss system I used.
The Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ had a profound impact on my medical practice, Siegal Medical Group. Although I didn't advertise my practice (and still don't), word of mouth spread. Within a couple of years we'd grown to 14 clinics in Florida and 10 in South America and Mexico. Patients began flying in from other states and even other countries, a phenomenon that continues to this day. The media soon learned of our patients' success; we've been profiled by countless media including Good Morning America, CNN, Woman's World, the New York Post, and Health magazine. Recently Fox News aired a report about us in prime time in 38 cities.
THE Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ ONLINE
As far back as the mid-1970's, I'd been receiving phone calls, letters and, more recently, emails, from people around the country and beyond asking to buy the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ cookies, shakes and soup. While I had provided them to about 200 other doctors to use in their practices, it wasn't until May of this year that we launched the www.CookieDietOnline.com web site and began offering the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ products for sale online. In just eight weeks, thousands of people have ordered cookies and vitamins from the site. I've also received hundreds of email messages from our web site customers expressing joy that our products are now available for home delivery. The following message, which I received yesterday, is an example of the kinds of messages I've received:
Just wanted to let you know that I think this is the best program ever! My mom, husband and several friends are now doing it - all because I told them the history of the diet and how it's working for me! Thank you for making it available for the masses!
During the next few months, we'll begin offering our Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ shakes and soup online. We'll be announcing the locations of more retail stores and doctors who offer our products. We'll be featured in more media profiles. Finally, I hope to find some time to finish my next book, Dr. Siegal's COOKIE DIET™: How One Doctor and His Cookie Helped 500,000 People Lose Weight.
They say that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Well, I'm feeling very flattered these days. Over the last 35 years, imitators of Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ have come and gone, almost without notice. But all of a sudden there's a whole new crop of imitators. Stories of our patients' success has obviously gotten around, and opportunistic copy cats have come out of the woodwork.
I've had my share of publicity over the years. When ABC's Good Morning America invited me to come on the show to discuss the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™, I brought along a few of our successful patients. In the weeks that followed, I received thousands of letters and email messages asking every conceivable question about our cookie and our program. The recent flurry of news about our plans to expand the availability of the Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ to new areas, and about the legal action we've taken to protect our trademarks and other intellectual property, are having a similar effect. Every day, more and more people around the world are hearing about Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™. The result: "knock-offs" of our Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ are popping up. It doesn't matter that none of them have the first notion of what goes into our secret formula. You can't believe how aggressive some of these schemers have been. One company displayed “before and after” pictures of Siegal Medical Group patients on its website as if they were of their own patients. But that's nothing compared to the one that displayed a picture of a man with a caption that read, “Dr. Sanford Siegal.” Guess what? The guy in the picture isn't me, and I'll bet his name isn't Sanford Siegal.
There are not only bogus Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ wannabes. There are spin-offs. Don't be surprised if one day you're hit with “The Hot Fudge Sundae Diet" or "The Spare Ribs Diet." Let's set the record straight. As of now, February of 2007, Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ is only available at medical offices in Dade, Broward, and Collier Counties in Florida. Anyone else who claims to have Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ cookies, shakes, or soup, is an impostor. Remember that and you won't be taken in by phony representations. Soon we will be expanding the availability of Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ to other areas of Florida and other states. It will be available from select drug stores and health professionals outside of the above counties. This will not affect the continuing availability of Dr. Siegal's® COOKIE DIET™ at Siegal Medical Group's offices in Miami Lakes, Kendall and Davie.