Consult the Dietitian

My name is Lisa Tillinger Johansen and I’m a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian. I’m also author of the award-winning book FAST FOOD VINDICATION and STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF!. I counsel my patients and clients on how to eat for a healthy life.  With a background that includes teaching posts at Southern California’s largest hospital network, federal grant programs, and community outreach endeavors, I apply my years of clinical and health education experience toward helping others achieve their nutrition goals. And now, I’d like to spread my reach even further!
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Is it okay to have dessert like cake or pie sometimes?

Absolutely. Just think of it as an every now and then treat. And don’t eat the whole cake or pie! Practice portion control. Also remember that diseases like diabetes which are affected by sweets don’t take a holiday. So it’s important to adhere to an appropriate diet the vast majority of the... read more

Are canned vegetables bad for you?

A lot of canned veggies are loaded with sodium. So I recommend getting “no salt added” canned veggies if possible. These typically are as low in sodium as the fresh version. You can use herbs and spices to flavor them. read more

What vegetables do you recommend?

I call veggies (and fruit) health. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and they’re low in calories to boot! I recommend eating a variety of vegetables of all different colors. Non-starchy veggies (everything but the starchy veggies: peas, beans, corn, potatoes, winter squash, parsnips and pumpkin) should take up half your plate. Starchy veggies go on one-quarter of your plate. Make sure you prepare your veggies in a healthy... read more

You’ve said that a serving size of avocado is 1/8th of it, or two tablespoons. I can eat a whole avocado at one sitting. Two level tablespoons is impossible.

I know it can be hard to cut back on some of our favorite food items. I get it. And two level tablespoons of avocado can seem quite small compared to the whole avocado. But while avocado is a healthy monounsaturated fat, it’s high in calorie. So size does matter. But this is what I tell people. Any change is better than no change. Perhaps in the case of avocado, why not start with only eating half? Then continue to work your way down to the recommended serving... read more

What’s the difference between white bread and wheat bread?

Fiber. Unless it’s been fortified, most white breads, pastas, rice and other grains have been stripped of it. And that’s not a good thing for most of us. Unless you’ve been told to limit fiber intake, we should get between 21 to 38 grams of fiber each day. Fiber helps keep us regular, can lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar and keep us full. That’s fantastic. Besides whole grains, brown rice, pasta, breads, etc., fruits and veggies also have fiber. So enjoy these healthy foods. But if you’re not getting a lot of fiber in your diet currently, don’t double your fiber intake overnight. Your colon will be happy, but you most likely won’t be. So add fiber slowly and drink sufficient amounts of... read more

Do you write every day?

I don’t write every day. I teach health and nutrition classes, counsel clients and speak at a variety of venues, so some days it’s too busy to carve out writing time. read more

What made you write a book about fad, bad and good diets?

I speak with so many people who’ve been on many fad diets with no long-term weight-loss result. Unfortunately, there are so many diets out there that are appealing to people because of the “quick fix” possibility. But a lot of these weight-loss plans aren’t healthy for us. As a dietitian, this bothers me. Maintaining a healthy weight can help us live longer lives. It’s my professional mission to help people do just that. So I wrote Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off! to explain what many of the most popular diets out there involve and if they can be harmful to our health. I then provide my reader with a healthy eating plan for life and answer the questions so many of us have on how to stay on the good nutrition... read more

How did you do research for your book?

As a practicing dietitian doing clinical and health education work, I drew a lot from my own knowledge and personal and professional experiences for my bestselling book, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off! I researched all of the diets I discuss in my book. And I’m one of those people who like to look at the physical book, so I had quite the stack of research! In addition to the various diet and medical books I referenced, I reviewed numerous scientific studies in journals and kept tabs on all of the different newspapers and medical websites for pertinent information. It was a very thorough and exhaustive research... read more

Are carrots a starchy vegetable?

Carrots are a maligned veggie. They are nonstarchy, which means they’re much lower in carbohydrates than starchy veggies like corn, peas, beans, potatoes, parsnips, pumpkin and winter squash. Nonstarchy veggies can take up half our plate. Starchy veggies and other starchy foods should only take up... read more

Do high fiber foods have added fiber?

To be labeled a “high fiber” food, a product must have at least 5 grams or more of fiber. This may involve adding in more fiber into the item such as extra bran or another fiber source. For example, some high fiber cereals or breads may have added fiber. But either way, I’m fine with that. Whole grains are good for you. They have B vitamins, protein, some minerals and, of course, fiber. Fiber can help keep us regular, lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar and keep us full. Aim for 21 to 38 grams of fiber a day. Consult with your healthcare provider about your individual... read more

Where does cholesterol in food come from?

If it has a head, a tail, a wing, hoof or gill, a mommy and daddy, or is produced by something that has any of these things, then it has cholesterol. In other words, cholesterol is found in proteins like meat, poultry and fish and products derived from them such as milk and cheese. If a food item is from the ground, it doesn’t have cholesterol. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee has officially recommended that we not worry so much about limiting cholesterol from food, as studies have shown that cholesterol obtained from food doesn’t affect our blood cholesterol as much as originally thought. But I still say moderation is good, particularly with regard to red meat, poultry skin and whole milk dairy products as these also contain saturated fat. I recommend speaking with your healthcare provider regarding your individual... read more

Why do we need carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, found in grains, cereals, breads, starchy veggies, fruit, dairy products and more are our body’s favorite energy source. We tend to over consume them, so portion control is key. I typically recommend about fifty percent of our total daily calories to come from carbohydrate. But I suggest you speak with your healthcare provider about your individual... read more

Have you ever had a weight problem?

I find as I get older that my body is changing and it’s harder to keep the weight from creeping on. I understand that in our forties, fifties and beyond we won’t have the same bodies we did when we were in our twenties. I’m okay with that. But I still eat balanced, nutritious meals and exercise and I’m at a healthy weight. I look to maintain a healthy weight. And as long as I’m healthy and happy, I’m... read more