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Easiest & Most Effective Diet I've Ever Done
on December 1, 2009
When I decided to try this diet, it was sort of a "what the heck, might as well give it a try" decision. I wasn't sure if the diet was effective or would work for me, but some aspects really appealed to me.
I'll give you the conclusion to my review up-front so you can decide if you want to read the rest of my review. I've lost 10# in 28 days. I still have about 40# to go and I will continue on the cookie diet, but felt I was at the point where I could declare the diet successful for me and post a review to help others considering it. I had read everything I could find on the diet before deciding to try it and a review like this would have been very helpful in making my decision to try it, so I hope that it will help others.
For reference, I started this diet at 200# with most of the excess weight around my middle and I'm 5'5", female and 41 years old. I have not dieted at all for 3 years since going off the Atkins diet in 2006 after doing that successfully for 3 years. Since then I gained about 50# and was in need of addressing my weight gain. I've dieted many times on many different diets over the years as I've struggled with weight my entire life.
Most important to me about this diet was not being hungry, accomplished by eating the cookies. That has really been a huge issue for me in past diets, as Dr. Siegal correctly identified in his book. Also, the simple layout of the diet with the 6 cookies and a meal really helped as I knew that I wasn't supposed to eat anything but his cookies until dinner. And I wouldn't need to buy weird, pricey frankenfoods (other than the cookies) like I did on Atkins (low-carb breads, chocolates, etc) since I'd be eating regular foods for dinners.
As for the cookies, don't think of them as actual cookies. They're just meal replacements in the form of a round food. They're smaller than I expected, about 2" diameter and about 3/4" tall. My first reaction upon opening the bag and seeing their size was skepticism that I could go all day eating only these 6 cookies and not be hungry. They are definitely better heated in the microwave (15 seconds). Heated, I think they are closest to really small muffins in texture and taste - slightly spongy and slightly sweet. I think they taste fine. Not so good that you want to eat them just for the pleasure of it (a big problem for me), but not bad at all and no negative comments like I read in some reviews. I think it has a lot to do with your expectations; if you're expecting typical cookies, you will be disappointed. My favorite flavor of cookie is chocolate compared to the oatmeal raisin or blueberry.
The cookies do a good job of eliminating hunger, which I was surprised at given how small they are. The first day was the hardest, but after that was fine. I do eat all 6 cookies each weekday and I do not go hungry. On the weekends when I get up later I sometimes only eat 3 cookies a day. I do not have fatigue in the afternoon as some have suggested would be the consequence of this diet. On weekdays, I usually eat my last cookie about 3:30pm and then take my dog out hiking for an hour and do not feel fatigued. I eat dinner about 5:30, which is likely earlier than many can, so that may help me a little as the time between when I wake and when I eat dinner (when I am only eating cookies) is about 11 hours.
I haven't done the meal part of the diet as they advise as I felt that their guidance was too restrictive for me and decreased the chances I would stay on the diet. Also, I was a little concerned about the 1,000 calorie limit. I've read that if your calorie deficit per day is greater than 1,000 that your body starts to go into starvation mode, which is totally counterproductive to losing weight, and eating 1,000 calories per day is right about that point for me based on various calculators I've used. Dr. Siegal does address starvation mode conceptually in his book, but he does not discuss the 1,000 calorie deficit to trigger it, so I don't know where he stands on that point.
So I was shooting more for the 1,200 calorie area, which is presented as an alternative. But I never counted calories for my dinners while on this diet as I knew that would drive me crazy. And I didn't limit myself to lean meat and veggies for dinner as I knew that would also negatively affect my ability to stay on the diet. My thinking was: if I lose a little less per month, but can actually stick with the diet, then that's ok with me.
So I just had a normal dinner for me - the foods I liked and in normal quantities. Though I did find pretty quickly that I felt full at dinner with less food than before the diet, so it seems my stomach has shrunk from my cookie-eating daytimes. I also sometimes had a glass of white wine with my dinners and usually had half a piece of fruit for dessert (orange, banana, apple, some pineapple). Also affecting my decision to not do more restrictive dinners is that I am married, and my husband and I eat dinner together, so doing it this way eliminated any impact on him as he wasn't forced to eat diet dinners or live off of frozen meals. Some nights I did eat frozen dinners as suggested in the book if my husband was not home or not hungry. I also continued having lunch out on Saturdays as my one daily meal.
So it was a combination approach and I'm sure my calorie intake varied from day to day. But as long as I lost weight and wasn't hungry, this worked much better for me as it will help me stick with the diet. I write this detail because I was almost discouraged from trying the diet when I learned the specifics of the dinner guidelines. So I wanted to share my experience that it is possible to deviate from the stricter dinner guidelines and still lose weight, though possibly not as fast. As I've lost 10# in 28 days, I'm still right on the average of 10# per month, even with my deviations. I'd seen several reviews that indicated things like "don't cheat at all", which I think is misleading in that you may not have to stick to every aspect 100% as they suggest.
Another thing that appealed to me about this diet is that if you have a day when you stray and eat more calories, you won't lose weight (or as much) or could possibly gain weight, but as soon as you go back on the diet you are losing weight again immediately since it all depends on calories. (This is my interpretation of the diet and what I've found to be true thus far.) One of the big drawbacks with the Atkins diet in my experience was that if you had a day where you went off the diet and ate carbs, it would take about a week of being back on the diet before you started losing weight again.
One of the criticisms of the cookie diet that Dr. Siegal references in his book is that it doesn't change eating behavior, so presumably after one is done with the diet he/she will go back to their overeating ways and gain it all back. I haven't gone off the diet yet, so I can't say yet whether I will gain it back, but the diet really quickly brought to my attention my eating behaviors and how they contributed to my being overweight. I very quickly learned that I felt an impulse to go get something to eat for all sorts of reasons besides being hungry: being stressed out, being bored, and just wanting something tasty. I work from home and my kitchen is only several steps away from the desk where I spend my workday, so in the past getting something to nibble on was very easy. This was one of the hardest things to deal with on this diet. It was not that I was hungry when I took a moment to evaluate these impulses, but that I had a serious pattern of wandering to the kitchen for something to eat for one of the three reasons above. Learning this was not a complete surprise, but the extent to which I did it really surprised me. So this awareness will be something I will carry with me after I go off the diet and I hope will lead to a permanent change in my eating behavior in that either I've overcome these impulses during the diet since I couldn't fulfill them or that I'm at least aware of the issue and can stop and evaluate if I'm actually hungry or motivated by one of the three reasons above rather than being on auto-pilot.
I also wanted to mention the cost of the cookies. When I initially saw the price of the cookies, I was almost discouraged from trying the diet. But I eventually decided I could gamble the cost of 28 days of cookies to try to address my weight problems. As it turns out, I think I may end up saving money on this diet. Even though the cookies aren't cheap, the cost of all the food I was buying to eat aside from dinner apparently really adds up. My grocery costs decreased since I started this diet as now I only buy dinner foods and food for my husband. So assuming you use the cookies you buy, they may pay for themselves, give or take, in grocery cost savings.
I also wanted to mention that I have always had a huge sweet-tooth, which has always been a big challenge while dieting. The cookie diet has really reduced my cravings for sweets. Aside from fruit after dinner, the only sweets I've had have been a small piece of chocolate sometimes after dinner, but still have lost the 10# in 28 days.
In case it might be relevant, I supplement with Vitamin D and Turmeric in addition to the multi-vitamin included in the boxes of cookies. I don't know to what extent they may be relevant to the success I've had with the diet, but wanted to mention them as they might be. Also, I did call Dr. Siegal's website folks before starting on this diet and confirmed that neither the cookies nor the multivitamins had any stimulants or appetite suppressants.
While I posted my review on Amazon, I didn't buy from the seller that sells through Amazon and instead bought directly from the Cookie Diet website.