Cookies are getting some serious hype in Los Angeles these days. One of my modeling agents mentioned to me that another model recently dared to walk into the agency's office with a cookie in her hand. So of course, as any conscientious agent would do, she proceeded to grill said model. Was she out of her mind to be eating a cookie in her state (apparently this slender, young thing "needed" to be on a diet)? Well, as if all was natural and good in the world, that model informed my agent that it was A-okay because this wasn't just any cookie--this was the cookie diet.
The model munched on the cookie and proclaimed that she could eat these all day, have a strict dinner, and the pounds would melt off. "Had I heard anything about this?" asked my bewildered agent. I could not believe the irony of a situation in which my modeling agent was actually asking for my thoughts on a fad diet. I pinched myself, then I called Claire to vent and do some research.
It wasn't hard to find information about the cookie diet. There are many versions, but the original was developed by Dr. Sanford Siegal in the 1970s. The kind doctor pretty much admits that his cookies taste like ass ("They taste good but we wouldn't call them delicious. Delicious cookies make people fat," he says on his website), but we had to dig a little deeper to find the real secret of how these cookies make people lose weight. Turns out that if you eat the prescribed number of cookies instead of, oh, actual meals, followed by a low-calorie dinner, you'll be consuming about 800 calories a day. That's what I (and any responsible doctor) would call starvation.
The next day I go to check out some houses with my realtor, and what does he ask me? Do I know anything about this amazing diet he just checked out online? It sounds really good. It's called...the cookie diet. At this point, I was half expecting Ashton Kutcher to jump out of the bushes. What is it with these ridiculous fad diets? Most of the time they're old diets repackaged to sound new and exciting. And if any of them actually worked, we would surely know by now.
Why would any person with even a shred of intelligence take this diet (or any other fad diet) seriously? I think the answer lies not just in our desperation to lose weight, but in the belief that we can trust in products that have a doctor's stamp of approval. On some level, we still believe that doctors are here to help people, and whenever a doctor or a person with all the right credentials comes up with a new diet, miracle pill, or exercise plan, too many of us trust that they wouldn't recommend something dangerous or harmful. After all, isn't that their vocation? Isn't there that "First, do no harm" oath they have to take?
Well, I said goodbye to the era of the supermodel a while ago, and I think we're in a new era of medicine, too. It's not one I'm too happy about. There are still plenty of good guys (and gals) out there, but I feel like more doctors are out to make a buck than ever before. We have the insurance companies and our out-of-whack health care system to thank for that. Which is why, when I was waiting in my OBGYN's office last week, I looked around the room and saw pamphlets about Botox, vein removal, hair removal, and all sorts of things that have nothing to do with gynecology. And it scared me.