Lisa Lillien, known on the Internet as Hungry Girl, describes herself as a “noncook” in an article in the New York Times. Nonetheless, her two most recent cookbooks, Hungry Girl 1-2-3 and Hungry Girl 200 Under 200, both hit the market at the top spot on the New York Times best-seller list for aside and how-to books. More cookbooks are on the way – St. Martin’s Press has agreed to pay an advance of more than $10 million for the next eight Hungary Girl books. Her goal is to provide women with information about how to eat the the most of the tastiest foods while consuming the fewest calories.
However, the lifestyle Hungry Girl endorses has been met with criticism. It’s heavily dependent on packaged and processed foods, which are convenient but lacking in the nutritional benefits of fresh fruits and veggies. “Hungry Girl is like the Forever 21 of food,” said Lillien. You’re getting more for your caloric buck, but you may not necessarily know where it comes from. “I live in the real world, and my people don’t need me to tell them they should be eating steamed halibut.”
The Hungry Girl cookbooks and newsletter promote a can-do attitude, trying to address the difficulties of dieting with humor. Always willing to try the latest diet food—be it yogurt, buffalo wings or blueberry-cranberry-flavored beef jerky—Lillien explained how she used to volunteer advice to indecisive strangers in the supermarket. “I feel like I was made to do this.”