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The Promise

Eat cookies -- instead of meals -- and watch the pounds melt away. That's the premise of the various cookie diets on the market, such as Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet, The Hollywood Cookie Diet, and the Smart for Life Cookie Diet.

Of course, you don't get to eat just any cookies. These are specially made for each of the plans. You eat them instead of breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

You're on your own for dinner, though some plans advise you to limit your evening meal to a certain number of calories. Others simply suggest a "sensible" dinner.

Does It Work?

In the short term, yes. If you slash calories, you're almost certain to lose some weight. But you're likely to regain it once you go off the diet.

What You Can Eat

Cookies, cookies, and more cookies. Some companies, such as Smart for Life, also offer muffins, shakes, and soups. The plans claim that their cookies aid in weight loss. Their ingredients vary, but their high protein or fiber content is meant to keep hunger at bay.

Level of Effort: Medium

If you don't like the taste of the cookies -- or the idea of eating diet cookies for most meals -- this diet could be tough to follow.

Limitations:Some people won't feel satisfied on such low-calorie diets. Eating the same foods over and over may also get boring. Either rule can make the diets hard to sustain.

Cooking and shopping:Buying breakfast, lunch, or snacks is easy -- just order the cookies with a click of your mouse. You can pretty much cook whatever you'd like for dinner, though some plans give sample dinners or calorie limits.

Packaged food or meals:Required. Except for dinner, you'll eat only packaged foods.

In-person meetings:Not required on most of the cookie diets.

Exercise:Most of the plans encourage it but are vague on specifics. Some advise a certain amount of exercise.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

The cookies on these diets come in various flavors and tend to be vegetarian-friendly. But you should check the label to find out what's in the cookies you're buying. They may not be gluten-free.

What Else You Should Know

Cost:These cookies don't come cheap, though they may cost less than the foods they're replacing. The Hollywood Cookie Diet runs about $100 for a 21-day supply. Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet offers a 4-week pack for $250, and Smart for Life's 5-week supply runs about $209.

Support: The Hollywood Cookie Diet has a free diet advice hotline. Smart for Life provides weekly in-person weigh-ins in California, Florida, and New Jersey.

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