Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lisa Lillien was a hungry girl and struggled with weight issues for most of her life. When she decided to change her way of eating, she learned so much about food and wanted to share. She began Hungry Girl, a free daily email subscription service. They’re all posted on the Hungry Girl website.

Lisa’s goal was to share everything she learned about food and eating with others.

Today I’m featuring Lisa Lillien on my Embracing SUCCESS series. She turned her desire to control her eating and help others do the same into a career. Hungry Girl sends emails to hundreds of thousands of people a day. I first saw her on Entertainment Tonight, and she’s done a lot of TV appearances since then. Now she has a great new book, Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World (St. Martin’s Griffin). It has healthy recipes, and lots of other helpful food info for taking control of your eating. The book is selling like crazy!

The information in Lisa’s daily emails is for anyone who is interested in food, watching calories, fat, etc. The content is formatted by day of the week. Mondays they send news, Tuesday is “Chew the Right Thing” day, where they compare the best and worst of one particular item, Wednesday is “Ask Hungry Girl” advice, Thursday and Friday — The Weekly Weigh In and Girls Bite Out– are revolving doors of content like Survival Guides, Rockin’ Recipes, Chew & Tell reviews and more.

Why did you start Hungry Girl? I started it with the intention of helping people. I was always the person at the market who would see someone looking at a particular food and I’d walk over and tell them why it was good or bad – or point out one that was better. Now I get to do that on a much larger scale.

What was your relationship with food before you to started Hungry Girl? I love food. I had about a 20 – 25 lb. weight problem for most of my life – and I lost 25 lbs about 6 years ago by changing my eating habits.

Why do you think so many people have so much trouble achieving and maintaining a healthy weight? Because our society is so food-centric. Portion sizes are tremendous, and we are constantly being bombarded with TV commercials featuring gooey pizzas with cheese-stuffed crust, huge cream pies, ice cream sundaes, etc. It’s all about huge portions and decadent, bad-for-you foods. That stuff is hard to resist!

How can knowledge about food be power? If you know exactly what you’re getting into when you go out to eat, you can make smart decisions. And a little knowledge goes a long way. I always tell people to Google their restaurants before going out to eat– familiarize yourself with the menu and plan ahead. Also – knowing little things – like how fattening salad dressing is, and how to order smart at restaurants, etc. can save you thousands of calories a week – and that’s with very little effort.

What are some valuable lessons you learned from your explorations into food? Not to trust labels. Unfortunately the FDA isn’t doing a great job of holding companies accountable for putting false nutritional info on labels. So many of the smaller “mom and pop” companies have foods with inaccurate calorie counts on the labels. If a foods nutritional info seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance that it is too good to be true. So be careful…

What products that you discovered have really made a difference and why do you love them? House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles. They’re brilliant. They have literally changed my life. I love them because I had basically written off pasta – decided that it wasn’t for me because of how caloric it is. And discovering these noodles has changed all that. I can make an AWESOME 80 calorie bowl of fettuccini alfredo (called Fettuccini Hungry Girlredo) now. There’s so much you can do with these noodles. I LOVE them! The bottom line is they have 1/20th the calories of regular pasta and they taste almost as good – and they’re HEALTHY, too! [Daylle’s note: I tried these and wow! They do taste fine when cooked with tasty things.]

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to take control of how they eat? Don’t deprive yourself. Just find satisfying swaps for the foods you love — guilt-free versions — so you can indulge without feeling bad, or packing on pounds. A few simple tweaks to your eating habits can make all the difference.

I’ve been subscribing to the Hungry Girl newsletter for over 3 years and find it to be an easy and fun read. There have been some interesting food facts that helped me change my eating habits and Lisa’s reviews of products have introduced me to some that I love. Lisa also creates recipes for healthier versions of yummy dishes. And, the newsletter is FREE! Subscribe (even guys!) today and check out her book, book, Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World (St. Martin’s Griffin).

Check out past interviews from my Embracing SUCCESS series:

Patrice Tanaka, co-chair of CRT/tanaka and their “whatcanbe” ambassador
Daniel Glass, founder, Glassnote Entertainment
Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora
Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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