The last thing I want to do is bash the efforts of a woman in the food industry that worked hard to establish her brand--but I will. But to be honest, I don't think her motives are diabolical (unlike some food corporations) but rather uninformed and based on the same cultural conditioning that many women (and men) suffer from in regards to food. The Hungry Girl teaches us that food should be manipulated, altered and changed from it's natural state to a lighter, fluffier version of it. And if we don't do that we should feel guilty. This is a diet mentality, or a diet approach to eating.
After much reading of the Hungry Girl brand, I learned that if you are a Hungry Girl you should:
Feel guilty about eating real food
You must remove all naturally occurring fat or sugar out of foods and make lighter versions so we can eat more of it.
Skimming calories off of every meal will be the difference between swimming in our velour track suits or filling them out--we should never fill them out.
Here is why this philosophy of eating is not only unhealthy but also making us hungrier and worse--making us crazy! This approach is ruining our relationship with food. It's just another fad-type diet that is creating the problem of hunger rather than solving it.
Hunger is quelled not only by fullness from the volume of food but also by the fat in food. it actually signals brain that it is satiated. When you eat fat, your body stimulates the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that aids in the digestion of fat and protein and helps promote satiety. Removing all fat from food particularly the food's naturally occurring fat--like removing an egg yolk will only keep you hungry and craving more food. Secondly, fat takes longer to digest, so not removing it from food will keep you fuller longer and in turn doesn't keep you nibbling. Satiety is also being satisfied by really tasty food. Thirdly, fat functions as a vehicle for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and therefore it is ridiculous to eat fat -free dairy! We need the fat in milk, yogurt, etc to absorb Vitamin D (if the D is absorbed so will the calcium) and Vitamin A. The most ridiculous thing the food industry does is make dairy fat-free, then adds sugar to flavor it!
I rummage through the many stripped down recipes on the Hungry Girl site and it reminded me of the old allegory of the monks who were allowed to only eat white rice, but as much as they wanted of it . And they ate and ate and they were never satisfied! Bland, no flavor and no fat.
A good example of the her food tricks is demonstrated in HG's That's So Quiche Lorraine. Her yolk-less, egg beater, light processed cheese concoction is only 150kcal while the terrifying full fat that she compares it to is 454kcal! 454kcal--why is that too much?! Is that an inappropriate lunch with a lovely side salad to accompany it? No, says this dietitian and it will taste much better! You will feel fuller longer and have all vitamins and minerals that the yolks provide. What is wrong with that?
And as a former media executive, I am sure Ms. Lillien understands that marketing tools such as eliciting fear and guilt in her audience works. She is also in cahoots with Weight Watchers--the cult-like weight loss group that instructs women to lose weight via points. Desperate woman who want to lose weight will drink their Kool-Aid--in their case the Sugar Free-Kool Aid! All their food is processed, altered and worse--lots of rules, rules, rules!
Some of my toughest patients have been former Weight Watchers clients. As a Registered Dietitian, I have been told over and over to come up with a "diet" to sell. The diet should promise a quick fix and have a gimmick. The truth is I could, but I won't. If diets work, then why are there so many diet books? Diets don't work! Deprivation doesn't work, balance does! Go Get in Touch with your Food!