05/08/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Hello, Hungry Girl

I'm one of those women who craves the kind of advice Hungry Girl serves up each day. It's friendly and practical guidance on eating well and still being able to zip your pants. When a friend introduced me to HG's daily emails last year, I was hooked.

But as Lisa Lillien, a.k.a., Hungry Girl, tells her fans, she's not a nutritionist. She's just a chick who's hungry. Her stay slim tricks have steadily attracted an audience of more than 400,000 people over the last five years who gobble up HG's daily emails about guilt-free eating.

The 42-year-old former Nickelodeon producer was not always so wise to the ways of weight maintenance. She grew up in New York, the daughter to a mom she describes as a yo-yo dieter who tried everything from Optifast to Nutrisystems.

"From a very young age, I was very conscious of dieting and food," she told The Well Mom in a recent interview.

Despite all of the focus on fighting flab, Lillien struggled to lose the same 15 pounds through early adulthood.

"I used to pretend that pretzels were a good food and then eat 11 servings while sitting at the computer," she recalls.

Until one day eight years ago, when she decided to go extreme. Lillien cut out all of the starches in her diet.

"Bread, pastas, rice, potatoes...I decided these were my trigger foods and I stopped eating them," she says.

In her mind, this was the final attempt to jump start her weight loss once and for all.

It worked. She ended up losing 30 pounds and turned to Weight Watchers to learn how to maintain her new figure. The program taught her about portion control. It was a revelation that would later fuel HG's success. Today, she's even developed recipes for the weight loss giant. Check out her awesome onion ring makeover.

"On Weight Watchers, you can't lie (to yourself). It holds you accountable for what you eat. And it teaches you that everything you eat has a point or caloric value," Lillien explains.

She decided a lot of people might benefit from what she learned. And frankly, she admits, she's never been shy about dishing out advice to anyone who will listen.

"I'm the woman at the grocery story telling you which fat-free ice cream tastes the best," she laughs. And so what began as a daily email sharing her own dieting tricks to about 200 family members and friends has now evolved into a major brand. With the release this week of her very first cookbook, Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World, Lillien is looking ahead to more books and her own line of food.

"There is a lot that is missing out there. It is stuff that I want that I can't find," she told me.

I asked HG, who has a lot of friends with kids, what advice she has for busy moms who are trying to either shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

Here's what she tells her own friends:

HG's Tips for The Well Mom:

- Try to not buy foods for your toddlers that you secretly want to eat.

- Make sure you are not overly hungry when you feed your kids. Or feed kids foods that are not "bad" (high fat, processed, or artificial stuff). She likes Amy's and Dr. Praeger's for kid-friendly frozen entrees.

- Stock an "emergency snack kit" in your office or car.
Her own stash includes:
Snack bars. She likes Dr. Melina's brand, almond raspberry flavor.
VitaTops 100 calorie muffin tops
100 calorie packages of almonds or other portion controlled snacks

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