What’s Wrong with Stealing Cookies from the Cookie Jar


Because my husband usually rises before me and switches on the tv in the other room, I often wake to the childhood jingle about stealing cookies from the cookie jar, repeated by a woman and a man touting their weight loss success on the Cookie Diet.

It really bugs me, initially just because of the ad.  Then I start thinking about the diet.

The concept of the ad is just not right.

The advertisers are playing off folks’ love of cookies and the extra appeal of being “forbidden.”  But the ploy is just another example of how misguided weight loss mantras continue to be fostered.

It reinforces the idea that cookies are something we have to sneak.   Even if it’s supposedly said in jest, weight-struggling adults buy right into the idea because, well, that’s what diets have told us for years — cookies are off-limits.  But that just sets us up for overeating them.

With children, while it’s important for parents to set limits, fostering the concept of sneaking sweets doesn’t help.  Again, even if it’s in jest.  Kids are pretty literal.  And if the kids face weight challenges, it just sets them up for the adult reaction.

I’m also not convinced the diet offers any real solutions.

It can be argued that some people initially need structure to help them improve their eating patterns, e.g., specific guidelines to help them eat well (see what I mean by that in our FitBriefingIt May Look Like a Diet but It’s How You Think About It.”)

Ideally, however, the structure would be something that would help us develop new habits.  Eating cookies for breakfast and lunch (which is how at least one person I know followed the diet) isn’t exactly setting a great pattern. (Btw, my friend lost a lot of weight on the diet a year ago.  Today, she’s back where she started.)

What’s more, while the cookies on the diet are “allowed,” real cookies aren’t.  Once again reinforcing that idea.

The cookies are made from “extracts of natural ingredients like fruit, vegetables, wheat and dairy.”

Oh, and “doctors” developed them, so they’re alright.  Well, maybe if you want so-so-tasting cookies.  But not sure this qualifies them for weight loss magic.  Yes, they feature fiber and protein, which may help manage hunger.  But unless the hunger management is in conjunction with learning how to eat real food, and perhaps healing physical issues that created the abnormal hunger in the first place, the chances aren’t good the reduced hunger will last.

What do you think?  Should I just laugh along with the “joke,” or do I have a point?

8 responses to “What’s Wrong with Stealing Cookies from the Cookie Jar”

  1. Lori says:

    I couldn’t imagine doing anything like a cookie diet. I think it might make a person crave even more sweet stuff, b/c they’re eating processed food (I guess unless they were homemade with natural ingredients.).
    Growing up, I had a big problem with sweets, and had to “sneak” cookies, b/c we couldn’t have them that often. Not necessarily b/c they were unhealthy, but b/c we just didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and we couldn’t afford to have them a lot. They were for “special occasions.” I think that had some impact on me, but not exactly sure what.

  2. Hanlie says:

    I think you’re absolutely right. A cookie diet – how absurd!

  3. Gina says:

    I’ve NEVER seen such a rediculous diet. When you think about it, I could loose weight in a week if I just ate a large cookie for each meal and one snack, at about 250 calories per cookie, times 4, is about 1000 calories. Ok, I’d loose a lot of weight, AND I’d get to eat 4 large cookies!! The bottom line is that you can eat whatever you want and still loose weight if it’s less calories than you burn. The key to diet success is learning how to eat in a way that you can keep up with your entire life, in other words, I’m against this so called diet! So lame.

  4. Sagan says:

    You definitely have a point. I’m just shaking my head at these fad diets…

  5. susan says:

    I’ve not seen the ad, but eating a cookie shouldn’t be associated with guilt and bad feelings.

  6. You do have several good points here. One that I really liked was the concept that cookies have to be eaten secretly. For me, after losing all my weight, it was really important to be able to live my life in the real world – not the diet world!

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  7. Wizzythestick says:

    You are completely right. This is exactly the message I don’t want my children to learn. You should not feel guilty about having a snack every once in a while. In fact you should plan for it the same way you plan your regular healthy meals. That way you can better exercise will power when it’s not time for a snack by reminding yourself that you will have your snack later on. My once a week 1/2 cup ice-cream is far better than telling myself no ice-cream.

  8. Rahim says:

    No Marsha you’ve got a point. I don’t think enabling in any way is helpful if your’re really trying to lose weight. So while it may be a joke, it’s not a funny one. Atleast, that’s how I feel.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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