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Collegiette Eats: 3 Healthy-Eating Tips From the Founder of Hungry Girl

Sick of eating cereal and ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.

Have you ever been shocked by how small the serving sizes are of some of your favorite foods? Two hundred calories worth of pasta is like three noodles, and a 140-calorie serving of tortilla chips can fit in the palm of your hand—as if you’d just want to stop at 10 chips. Sticking with these sizes can leave you feeling pretty unsatisfied and hungry. And being hungry sucks.

No one knows this better than Lisa Lillien, the creator of Hungry Girl, a healthy-eating brand that includes several New York Times best-selling books, a cooking show called Hungry Girl on Food Network and Cooking Channel, a website and daily emails jam-packed with helpful information such as recipes, shopping lists, new product finds, survival tips for specific restaurants and occasions and news. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Lillien about Hungry Girl and her latest book, The Hungry Girl Diet, and I’m super excited to introduce you all to her amazing outlook on healthy eating!

Lillien created the Hungry Girl concept and brand because she loves food and hates restriction. She values health, but she doesn’t want to sacrifice taste, quantity or satisfaction in the process. So she’s developed an inventory of tips and tricks that allow you to grow your portions of delicious foods while shrinking (or maintaining) your waistline. Her philosophy is all about finding swaps to improve the nutritional value of your meals, learning secrets that allow you to eat more for fewer calories and making healthy lifestyle changes.

Today The Hungry Diet is hitting stores. The book compiles a “decade’s worth of trusted food findings and philosophies” into a 1,300-calorie-a-day, four-week diet plan that’s actually fun and easy to follow because it allows you to enjoy large, satisfying portions of yummy foods—and still lose weight!

“The number one complaint when dieting is being hungry,” Lillien says. “This plan allows you to eat more.”  The plan was approved by registered dietitian and author Dave Grotto and tested by a varied group of dieters who lost an average of 10 pounds after four weeks. 

Lillien explains that she was initially hesitant to come out with a diet book because Hungry Girl is a philosophy and lifestyle, not a quick fix or fad diet. She emphasizes that the plan is something you can do over and over again throughout your life, and go on and off of.

“It’s not a type of diet where you are restricting yourself to only eat certain foods,” she explains. There are tons of balanced options, so you can pick and choose, creating the exact meal plan that works for your preferences and schedule. Lillien’s reasoning for this flexibility is that “when diets are very strict, people tend to yo-yo diet.” Rather than depriving yourself of nothing but cabbage soup for three days only to binge on a box of Double Stuf Oreos on day four, you can reshape the way you eat with Lillien’s plan so that you get sustainable, maintainable results. 

Lillien explains that the Hungry Girl Diet is especially great for collegiettes thanks to the uncomplicated recipes and array of grab-and-go options. “These recipes are appropriate for people who are on budget, don’t have a lot of time and are cooking for one,” she says. Sounds exactly like a collegiette to me! “The recipes rely on ingredients that you probably already have at home or can get easily, and they don’t take a long time to prepare,” she says. So on those days when you’re racing from bio lab to your sorority chapter meeting and then out to dinner with the girls, you’ll still be able to stick with the plan. Guess you can’t use being busy an excuse to eat unhealthily anymore—sorry (but really, it’s for your own good).

The book is more than just the plan, though. “The book has a definitive four-week plan, but also a huge section with survival tips—such as what to get at a baseball game, at girls’ night at the bar—and recipes that would be great whether you are on or off the plan,” Lillien says.

Lillien shared a few of her favorite healthy eating tricks and tips to give a taste of what you’ll find in the Hungry Girl Diet.

1. Maximize volume

Lillien shared one of her favorite Hungry Girl breakfasts: growing oatmeal. “Instead of using one cup of liquid for a half cup serving of old-fashioned oats like the canister suggests, you use two cups and cook it for twice as long,” she says. “It gets really thick and blows up to twice the size of regular oatmeal, so it’s really huge and filling.” As you can imagine based on how often I eat oatmeal in the morning, I was so excited to hear this magical tip. I’ll definitely by trying this for my next bowl. 

2. Find healthy swaps

“A serving size of pasta [one cup of cooked spaghetti is 220 calories] is really sad to me,” she says. So, in Hungry Girl fashion, she has found substitutes that allow her to eat more for much fewer calories. “I’ll use broccoli slaw and cook it in a skillet with marinara sauce,” she says, explaining that it tastes surprisingly like pasta. “Or, I’ll use tofu shiritake,” she says, which is a type of noodle made from tofu that has one-tenth—yes, one-tenth—the calories of regular pastas. Check out her recipe for Fettucinne Hungry Girlfredo, which only has 99 calories per serving. “The serving size is tremendous and is like you’re eating a bowl of fettuccine Alfredo,” she says. I’m already salivating.

3. Plan ahead

“My best advice is to plan,” she says. “My number one advice for college students and people who don’t have a lot of time is to think ahead; know what your day is going to be like. Keep better choice snacks on hand.” She explains that this will help you avoid having to resort to whatever food is around you or in the vending machine, or getting to a point where you’re so hungry that you end up overeating once you finally get food. Some of her favorite go-to snacks are 100-calorie packs of pistachios or almonds, turkey jerky, an apple or a Quest bar.

Hungry for more? Visit the Hungry Girl website for more tips! 

Sammie is a student at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a BBA. A foodie since birth, she enjoys cooking, eating, smelling, looking at, photographing, reading about, and playing with any and all types of food. Her idolization of culinary delights is complemented by her active spirit- she enjoys running, swimming, barre classes, and even spontaneous bursts of interpretative dance if the mood strikes her. She has completed two triathlons and a half-marathon and plans to tackle more races in the future. She also dreams of traveling the globe, saving the world, and marrying James and/or Dave Franco. 
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