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Gift of Grub

The Hungry Girl weighs in on our national obsession with eating and dieting.



Style: What makes us so food-saturated as a nation? And is anyone worried about this phenomenon?

Lillien: People need to eat food to live. And food is delicious! It's actually worth obsessing over. I think that's why The Food Network is so popular. The good news is, in addition to this trend of food obsession, we are also way more concerned about health, wellness and longevity now too.

What's your intent in running your Web site?

I launched Hungry Girl as a way to help people. It's so rare to see an approach to dieting from the perspective of a regular person. I'm not a nutritionist; I'm just hungry. Hungry Girl, while informational, is also really fun and even funny, so I also started it as a way to help people who are seeking this type of information, and also entertain them at the same time.

Summarize who you are and why you're doing this.

I love to gossip ... and now I get to gossip about food, which is really fun! I was always the type of person who would see people looking at products at the supermarket and I would feel compelled to tell them, "Don't buy that — it's horrible. Get this one — it tastes ten times better and has half the calories." Now I get to do that on a larger scale.

Is this your job or a hobby?

A job. And a hobby. It's my full-time job — but I love it and would do it in my spare time if it weren't my job!

Who reads your site the most, and what do they comment on most?

Primarily women 18 to 54. Some younger, some older. They mostly send really nice feedback thanking me for bringing them all the info, reviews and great recipes. I think people appreciate the honesty of the site and tell me they feel like I'm a long-lost girlfriend and would never steer them wrong. They also tell me about how they forward the e-mails on to everyone they know. There are 130,000 on the list now. and we grow by about 500 to 700 a day.

When you send a billion potential customers to Mel for his Figamajigs, is there a kickback, a fee or a billion boxes of candy?

No fee, no kickback. You can't pay to be featured in HG editorial. Figamajigs were featured in editorial. You can buy ads if you are approved, but the ads are in the form of dedicated sponsored e-mails, Guilt Free Grocery offers and banners.

And how many vendors are trying to get a mention with you? In other words, are you a little Oprah?

A lot. I do get pitched quite often. I'd say about 20 boxes of food arrive each week.

What else is important to you besides food and dieting and cute pants?

I wouldn't say "dieting" is so important to me. But food is, for sure! Eating carefully, and not depriving yourself is key. I also love hanging out with my husband, working out, animals, traveling, reading, TV, spending time with family, et cetera. All the good stuff. S

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