Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Hungry Girl Diet by Lisa Lillien

I'm behind.. I owe reviews on Rowling's The Casual Vacancy , Villalobos' Quesadillas , Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday , AND Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road ... but, first... The Hungry Girl Diet, which I just finished last night...

The diet portion of this book is closer to 5 stars, but the book is a bit... cheesy and
cliched for my preferences, so overall it lands at a solid 4 stars.

Lillien's book persona is over-the-top cheerleader "DO IT!" "Try It!" "I'm obsessed!" "Amazing!" about a lot of things.  Also, she likes fake sugar a lot... more than I'm personally comfortable with (i.e., a lot of her recipes include 1 to 2 packets of no-calorie sweetener, like Stevia or Splenda), BUT a lot of her recipes are sans-fake sugar and/or can just be made w/o the added sugar (e.g., the oatmeal may taste sweeter w/ the packet, but it's just fine w/o it!)..

Overall, I was impressed with:
- Her thorough guide to eating better in the real world.
- Her variety of options. She includes a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables (as expected), with enough of the "other stuff" to make you feel like you don't hate yourself for dieting. She does have some processed options in there (e.g., Fiber One brownie bars), but you could totally do the diet w/o ever using those options.
- The size of portions, as promised. You do get a lot of food. Real food. My breakfast actually fills up a full normal size (i.e., not appetizer sized) plate. The oatmeal is a big serving that is actually filling. You get to eat fruits in nice big quantities.
- My success so far! (it's only been 3 days of being ON the plan, but I have already lost 2 pounds :))
- Ohmygosh the App. The App is brilliant. Not because it's a great app (see below), but because of what it DOES do. So there are 3 sections -- 2 of which you'll use. My Meal Calendar, you can add your meals a  day at a time... you pick from a list of the options WITH pictures and create your day. When you're done you can go to the Shopping List and the app will CREATE the shopping list that you need for the meals you picked on the days you've selected. BRILLIANT. Additionally, your shopping list will have extra notes and comments where relevant (e.g., if you need to put 1 cup of strawberries, she tells you that 8 large strawberries is usually 1 cup; or, if you need to buy 2 cups of big-fiber vegetables, she lists your options! but this is all in "notes" so that it doesn't muddy the list itself). AND the list is organized by section of the grocery. But..... (see 3rd "complaint" below)

Overall, I was not as impressed with:
- as mentioned above, she's a bit over-the-top with some things, though I imagine this sort of cheerleader attitude does over very WELL with many people :)
- I'd have appreciated a "if you don't eat fake sugar, try ____" options. Like, in her oatmeal, could I add a packet of real sugar? would the 20 extra calories really be problematic? or would the fact that I'm eating "sugar" be problematic? As I said above, it's fine w/o the sugar at all, but a little sweeter might also be nice ;)  I *am* going to try a packet of stevia this weekend and I'll see how I like that...
- The only thing I'd change w/ the App is adding the recipes for the options... THAT would be perfect. Then I wouldn't have to lug around my phone AND the book whenever I want to make something (including at work). I understand that perhaps she needs to make money, so maybe the FREE app would include what it currently has, and you'd PAY for the app w/ the recipes, except for people who have bought the book, who should get a code to buy the pay-app, so they can have it for free

Overall, I was neutral about:
Her organization. On one hand, I liked the color-coordinated pages (helps you find your section quickly!) and that the recipes were all in one section, etc. But it was weird having more discussion at the end of the book, the color pictures should have come all before or all after the recipes, and some of the interspersed discussion I feel could have been better placed. In particular, if you read the book AS you were doing the plan (as most people would), you might not realize there are some really good tips and discussion points interspersed throughout weeks 2-4, when you are only in week 1.  So. I guess maybe that's a publisher issue, but it was noticeable to me.

So, overall 4 very solid stars.
And I'm excited about this whole plan.

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