new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Why I Hate Hungry Girl

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why I Hate Hungry Girl

Why I Hate Hungry Girl




Hungry Girl.com is a perky pastel-toned ode to Why You Are Too Fat. Within it, the super hot cartoony avatar of the proprietress tells you what you need to eat to avoid becoming a terrifying lard monster. This apparently means living off, among other things, low calorie chocolate muffins, 100 calorie packages of soy crisps, and easily microwavable recipes. Hungry Girl's founder says, in her mission statement, that "Nothing gives me a thrill like discovering a new low cal snack or assembling a no fat pizza! " Gosh, wherever do I sign?

Hungry Girl seems to get a lot of mileage out of the fact that Americans love to eat snacks, even if they are completely and utterly not-hungry and have burned about 100 calories cumulatively that day by sitting on the couch and breathing. No matter how inactive you are, in America, you are entitled to that cheesy poof, even if you are overweight and self loathing. Hungry Girl seeks to fill that void by suggesting delicious solutions, like low fat donuts, 20 calorie chocolate truffles, and microwaveable soy protein ribs. , which they claim, breathlessly, "taste unbelievable."

Apparently you too can sit on the couch like any other Bubba and hoover down these "delicious" low calorie snacks, and will somehow come out of looking Gisele Bundchen. This is of course untrue. Eating highly processed food that tastes like paper while watching Desperate Housewives will make you fat, no matter how "low calorie" it is. What happened to cutting out snacks entirely and eating better and more filling meals? Or eating something really radical like fresh fruit?

As an example of the websites cheery culinary butchery, let's look at Hungry GIrl's charming analysis of ethnic foods that may not come out of an easily microwaveable container.

Sushi: "Quite often sushi is served by the piece. That makes it easy to over-order. If you want to save calories, carbs and/or points, order "light rice."

It's true, those Japanese people are so immensely fat because of all that dangerous, tempting white rice and raw fish they eat. Oh, wait.

Chinese: "That's exactly why you should use these tricky sticks. Fiddling with them will force you to eat slowly."

Well, if you're an incompetent round-eye who lives on sweet and sour pork.

"Order your dishes steamed, with sauce on the side. Then dip, don't pour!"

Chinese chefs around the world salute you for this brilliant innovation. Mmm, plain chicken and vegetables sprinkled with MSG and dipped in sugary sauce...don't mind if I do! Chinese food IS bad for you if you're into the "deep fried chicken parts in sauce" type cuisine. Which is not actually Chinese. There is no damn point in eating Chinese food (or anything else) if you're going to suck the life out of it by ordering it to all your insecure suburbanite proclivities. Go suck on some cardboard. (Ordering this way also increases the odds of your food being spit in. Which will, of course, add CALORIES.)

Hungry Girl deeply offends me, and I think I know why: it takes the love and the quality and the freshness out of food and converts it into some perverse ritual between insecure women and calorie laden sugary treats. The phrase "guilt-free" exemplifies this: if you eat something that tastes good, you had better be guilty, you big fat cow. Due to this, women in America have a profoundly screwed up attitude about food. The daily and totally necessary act of eating something becomes a moral battle, creating victims on either end of the aisle: anorexics, yo-yo dieters, the super obese. Food, instead of being a friend or a lovely way to end the day, becomes somehow evil, which is impressive for what is (usually) an inanimate object.

So, instead of treating food as important, food is treated as the enemy, with rich ingredients and preparations called "freakish" or "repulsive." Instead of espousing all things in moderation, Hungry Girl seems to be saying that the ONLY WAY to be thin is to survive on Lean Cuisine and soy protein crisps. Which is total bullshit. The reason Americans are so damn fat is because we eat out of shelf stable boxes, drive everywhere in large cars, and consider fresh crunchy vegetables to be unpleasant and "boring," while we freebase artificial sugars and fats then beat ourselves up afterwards for "giving in." This is incredibly odd behavior and not one other cultures share, even cultures with excellent, rich food. (I'm looking at you, France and Italy.)

I admit: I'm skinny, I've never had a weight problem, and I am probably not the target market for this advice. But I still think I know enough about maintaining a healthy body weight that I can say Hungry Girl is total crap. If you want to lose weight and keep your soul intact, try hitting the farmers market and walking more, not taking Hungry Girl's asinine "tips" or eating repulsive low-calorie and chemical laden foods.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMEN. I absolutely LOATHE hungry girl. And I agree 100% on your analysis.

Melinda said...

Hey,

My names Melinda. I am 26years old and DEFF. trying to learn to eat and live healthier. I saw an add for HUNGRY GIRL in a mag today when I was getting my nails done and decided to come home and check it out. At first I thought "WOW, theres so much yummy stuff on here, how could I have been so blind?" Here's the thing though, I HAVE been blind! I have been eating whatever I want WHENEVER i want and my weight started to BALLLOOOOON!!!I am now training my body to eat fish, veggies, nuts, and fruit, and let me tell you, I feel AMAZING! I have more energy, I am looking better, feeling better, etc.... I did'nt really understand why HUNGRY GIRL set so badly with me while I was looking over the site until I stumbled on to you. YOU are very well spoken, and very intelligent. Thank you for your blog. It hit the nail RIGHT on the head. ENCOURAGING women like myself, who are just trying to figure out how to eat "right" to eat processed crap IS REALLY WRONG! Peace and love 2u and yours!~Melinda

Anonymous said...

I am completely behind you on this one. In my opinion, hungry-girl shows a lot of the symptoms of an eating disorder. I currently am and have been struggling with an ED for the past 6 years. There are no good or bad foods, despite what HG would have us believe. And her so called "guilt free" solutions are just poor excuses for the real thing. Fat is not evil. Carbs are good for you. Lower calories doesn't mean healthy.
HG website frustrates me to no end!

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Anonymous said...

I think you are not understanding what hungry girl is trying to do. Her method is to not just snack on unhealthy foods all the time, her philosophy is to allow women who want to watch their calories be able to enjoy the same types of foods they were able to at some time before. Hungry girl eats healthy with real ingredients if you read her books. Her methods of quick and easy recipes are for women who don't have a lot of time to cook for 2 hours and make a healthy meal. She understands that women who are working or don't know how to cook can use her recipes & tips instead of constantly eating fast food or snacking on unhealthy things. Her solution is to not make you feel fat, but to know there are better alternatives out there than what you are aware of. I am only 18 years of age, i've never struggled with weight problems but i value you hungry girl's ideas. While she is not for everyone, she does have value to a certain group of women.

Terrierboy said...

Great post about all the problems with the overbearing, ignorant twit called Hungry Girl. What she knows about nutrition could fit on the head of a pin, with tons of room left. The whole fat is enemy argument was exploded years ago. Our bodies need healthy fats, but not according to HG, who pushes sugary or chemical-laden "substitutes" to the equally ignorant public. And please, don't even try to excuse her reliance on all that unhealthy packaged crap. Anyone can cook a healthy meal in about a 30 minute period, but you must purchase fresh food. Who can't toss some chicken breasts and veggies into the oven to roast, with a bit of olive or grapeseed oil and some seasonings? That's healthy cooking. HG is just another corporate shill peddling processed junk food. Americans need to retrain their palates to avoid all that sugar and those horrible artificial sweeteners, period. We need to teach people to buy and eat locally produced proteins and veggies, rather than rely upon all these ridiculous faux snacks. Today, someone left the TV tuned to HG. I heard that grating voice pushing powdered PB to people, and I wanted to scream. This so-called healthy alternative nearly as much sugar and sodium as peanuts! Sugar should never be allowed near peanuts. Sod off, HG!

Brandy said...

Wonderful, thank you for typing it out! My husband and I just tried to make a dish from her site and wasted the $20 it took to buy it all. So low in calories the flavor went with it.