Having It All

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a write up of a very interesting woman in the New York Times. Lisa Lillien, also known as 'Hungry Girl', authors a free daily e-mail newsletter which offers advice on how to consume as few calories as possible while still filling up on American junk food favorites such as Buffalo wings and Fritos. You can read the NYT article by clicking here (although you may have to register to get free access).

I applaud Hungry Girl's business acumen. She has a ready audience of (mostly?) women who are being told they need to be thin to be happy, and yet are probably still hungry for something – perhaps food? – after years of trying to diet. And what's better than a plate of nachos with a low-sin quotient? I think this might be the time to mention that one of her recipes is called "Nacho-rific Stuffed Chicken," made with General Mill's Fiber One cereal.

But I think Lillien misses the point. I understand the urge to seek out pleasure. And food, in our modern society, is a quick, cheap path to it. In this case, Lillien is answering our prayers to have it all. The rush we get from sugar and fat, but also, magically, "healthy" food, due to the extra fiber content, or at least lower in calories than you might think.

I was reading an Agatha Christie book last week for my book club (A Murder is Announced) and there's a scene where one of the servants crafts an amazingly rich and decadent cake called Delicious Death. This cake plays a role in the murder plot, of course, but I was amused as all the characters suffered great indigestion and hangover after eating such overly rich cake. There were headaches and early bedtimes for all the guests at the party in 1930s England.

I'm not saying we shouldn't eat decadent chocolate cake. We should – and we should enjoy it (and take an aspirin for the post-cake headache if necessary). But when we try to eat our cake and have it too, I think it's time to examine what it is that we are actually hungry for.

When we try to have it all, sometimes we end up with less. I admit I can be particularly guilty of the more-is-more philosophy. But I'm trying to learn that I don't have to keep seeking more and more to be happy and that it's often the more simple things that can give us the most pleasure.

One thing I love about England is the quality of the berries in the summertime – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. I love to eat them just on their own, they are so sweet and delicious. It's OK to eat junk food. But why settle for low-cal tasteless versions of the real thing? Hungry Girl's philosophy of constantly trying to have it all – which is, of course, impossible – could mean that we just might miss out on the simple pleasure of fresh fruit.

No comments

Back to Top