LoveToKnow recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Sanford Siegal. Dr Siegal is a practicing physician whose South Florida medical practice has treated more than 500,000 overweight patients since it was founded in 1957. Although Dr. Siegal's has received considerable media attention for his books on subjects including high fiber dieting, hunger control without drugs, and hypothyroidism, he is best known as the creator of the internationally-popular Dr. Siegal's COOKIE DIET weight loss system and its proprietary hunger-controlling cookies, shakes and soup which are made in Dr. Siegal's private bakery in Miami.
Dr. Siegal, your Cookie diet has been a success for decades. How did you come up with the concept for the Cookie Diet?
I treat obesity. I've been a physician for over 50 years and it was apparent to me that some foods are truly hunger suppressing. I got the idea, why don't I engineer a food from scratch that's hunger suppressing. I developed a formula, and then the question was: what do I do with it. The cookie emerged as a logical choice; it's portable and doesn't need to be refrigerated. The first test on patients was successful, so I developed a method for using it. Cookies were eaten at hunger times, and at dinner time a real dinner was allowed. The sum total was a low calorie diet.
In your last book, Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat? you talked about how many of your patients suffered from an underactive metabolism caused by hypothyroidism. Can people who suffer from hypothyroidism lose weight on the Cookie Diet?
The answer is yes, but to keep up the rapid loss of weight you have to correct the underactive thyroid. First you have to discover if it is there. In Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat, I take doctors to task for not recognizing the ailment. Once you do that, you see the same kinds results.
Is the diet safe for diabetics, too?
Oh yes. The obese public is full of diabetics. The nice thing about diabetics is that they often are able to get off their diabetic medication once they get the weight off.
How does the Cookie Diet work?
No magic here. The cookie simply helps to control hunger. You have a motivated individual who when you control hunger will stick to the diet. The cookie doesn't increase your metabolism. It controls hunger.
One concern people have is gaining weight back once they've lost it. Does your diet plan help people not only lose the weight, but maintain that weight loss?
The problem is the same no matter how you lose the weight. How to maintain it. That's the hard part. So we do have to have a method of weight maintenance.
- By not eating more calories than you need, and if you do, by burning up the extra calories through physical exercise.
- Some chose to use our cookie diet as a permanent way to maintain. I don't encourage that.
On the Cookie Diet, they eat cookies during the day (500 calories) and they have a 300 calorie dinner. I don't advocate this to the public at large. However if they would continue to do that after they reach their goal weight, they'd waste away to nothing. The only way to continue on the cookie diet is to eat a much larger dinner, depending on what their maintenance level of calories is. That's one of the reason they need a doctor. We have some people who eat as much as 1400 calories for dinner.
That's only one group. The preferable method for me is physical exercise. The best way to maintain weight is to burn enough calories every day to maintain weight loss.
One reason people gain weight is due to emotional eating. Does your diet address this, and do you have any weight loss tips to offer the readers in regards to emotional eating?
That's almost like a pet peeve of mine. "I eat when I'm upset", this reason, that reason, emotional things. I play a game. I say, "Let's review the situation. You eat the food, and after the food you feel better." "No, I don't feel better." I don't believe in emotional eating. I believe people use that phrase or concept to explain why they overeat. It sounds good. But that's nonsense. We overeat because it tastes good. But we love that justification. People who are on a weight loss program have to take personal responsibility.
Do the cookies taste good?
I could have made the cookie taste much better, but I don't want people to overeat them. That would defeat the whole purpose. The formula I use is a secret, known only to me and my wife. The way I'm able to do that, I personally mix every batch of the formula that goes into the cookies. The amino acid combination is done by me in our own bakery when no employees are there. I've done my own mixing and compounding since 1975. I have a new book coming out, an explanation of how I use the cookie diet in my practice. A lot of people buy our product online at CookieDiet.com. Again I want to emphasize this should be used with a doctor's supervision, to make sure you're in good enough health to follow a low calorie diet. With a doctor, I'm convinced the results will be better.