Lena Dunham Talks Food in Her New Book, Out Today

Julia Bainbridge
·Food Editor
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Girls" creator/actor/producer Lena Dunham has written a book that’s finally available for purchase today. We got our Hannah-loving hands on a copy of "Not That Kind of Girl" this morning, and as we predicted, Dunham dishes on her favorite foods—and her struggles with them. 

In a chapter called “‘Diet’ Is a Four-Letter Word,” she chronicles her love for nachos, what it feels like to be “shaped like a gummy bear,” and her 10-year stint as a vegan, a regime inspired by “a cow who winked at me on a family vacation to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Yes, Dunham has a gift for humor, but also for (sometimes) brutal honesty; this chapter is actually about her discomfort with her weight and a momentary but significant flirtation with bulimia. To correct these issues, a teenage Dunham worked with her mother’s nutritionist, writing down everything she ate for some time. Dunham calls those lists, which she shared in the book, “the most secret and humiliating document on my computer.”

But back to the humor. Here are some of the more chuckle-worthy moments in this chapter:

On her childhood regimen: “My diet, up to that point, consisted entirely of organic hamburger patties, spinach-and-cheese ravioli (which I called “grass ravioli”), and pancakes my dad made in the shape of mice or guns. I was told that eating, really eating, was the only way to become big and strong and smart.”

On her childhood favorites: “Doritos. Steak. Sara Lee pound cake (preferably still half frozen). Stouffer’s French bread pepperoni pizzas, my Irish nanny’s shepherd’s pie, and huge hunks of goose liver pâté, eaten with my bare hands as a snack. My mother denies having let me eat raw hamburger meat and drink a cup of vinegar, but I know that both happened. I wanted to taste it all.”

On her lithe, pre-pubescent body: “I still envy my own eight-year-old self, standing confidently on a Mexico beach in a French bikini, then breaking for nachos and Coke.”

On “becoming a woman”: Her father, who was there when it happened “called my mother, who risked home from her errands with a box of tampons and a meatball sub.”

On college: “College was an orgy ofsoy ice cream, overstuffed burritos, and bad midwestern pizza inhaled at 3:00 AM.”

On identifying with “Cathy" comics: “I am thinking particularly of a shower I took where the lower half of my body was under the running water and the upper half was laid out on the bath mat, eating a loaf of bread.”

Perhaps Dunham had it all figured out way before she thought she did. In her diet diary entry on August 21, 2010, she wrote: “[W]orking with my psychology/food guiltthe need to be perfect is what obsesses and derails me, when the real goal is to enjoy food and listen to my body.”

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The inside cover of Dunham’s book, with art by Payton Cosell Turner of Flat Vernacular