Judgment of the Jamboree

This year, for the very first time, The Boy Scouts of the America has decided to bar obese scouts from their annual Jamboree. It’s the organization’s biggest even of the year, so the announcement prompted a lot of discussion in the media. Agree or disagree, the decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. Obesity rates in the United States have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2010, 18% of children were considered to be obese. Adolescents also hit the 18% obesity mark. In this same year, it was found that one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese. What does this mean? What are the consequences? Obesity among young people carries with it potential health issues. They are more apt to have risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure. They can become prediabetic or diabetic. They can also develop bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and other physical disease states and conditions. These used to be adult problems. Not anymore. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. The risks of disease states and conditions will continue into adulthood. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, sleep apnea, and more, could be in their futures, some sooner than later. It’s a very real problem. Also at issue is the emotional toll felt by many children and adolescents who carry too much weight on their frames. Impaired social relationships, distressed psychological states and poor self esteem can result. Negative outcomes can run the gamut and can be severe. Like the physical issues, this too... read more

Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Bananas, Oh My!

Researchers in Sweden followed 71,706 adult individuals between the age of 45 and 83 over a 13-year period in an effort to determine the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables every day. They found that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day contributes to a longer life. And it seems that five servings is the right number. Those who ate more didn’t show any greater health benefit. But those who ate less showed less. The researchers found that those with limited fruit and vegetable consumption had “shorter survival and higher mortality rates.” This isn’t surprising. Fruits and vegetables are health. They can help ward off some chronic diseases and aid us in our weight management efforts. I tell my patients that fruits and veggies are like multi-vitamins and the more different-colored ones we eat, the better. But how many of us are actually partaking in these oh-so-giving edibles? Well, in the United States at least, not enough. The National Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently reported that the average adult in the U.S. eats 1.1 servings of fruit and 1.6 serving of vegetables per day. Let’s do the math – 1.1 plus 1.6 doesn’t add up to 5. How do the different states compare? The ones with the lowest median fruit and vegetable consumption were North and South Dakota, Louisiana, Iowa and Mississippi. The states with the highest consumption were Oregon, California and New Hampshire. All the others were somewhere in between. None of them get a gold star. I’ve love fruits and veggies and enjoy at least five servings just about every day. And... read more


STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF! By Lisa Tillinger Johansen, MS, RD I’m in the process of writing my second book STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF! It takes a look at the fad diets out there and reviews their pros and cons. Ultimately, I discuss a healthy way to eat for life. It will be available at booksellers in February 2014. For more information about the book, please go to the book’s web site at www.stopthediet.com. I want to share the first chapter of the book with you. It’s hot off my computer, not a press, and hasn’t been proofed by my editors. So once my fantastic editing team does their magic and the book is published, this chapter will look a bit differently. I hope you enjoy it!   ONE Dieting…Who Hasn’t? “I feel like banging my head against the wall when I am asked what I think about the HCG Diet, Grapefruit Diet, or the Atkins Diet. Have we become so naïve as to believe that taking some homeopathic HCG drops will fix 20 years of poor eating? The sales say we have.” – Josh Hodnik, Staff writer for VPX sports and Muscle Evolution Holy cow, I’m fat! I’ve turned into a complete out-of-shape blob. I’m standing here looking in the mirror and some stranger is staring back at me. Surely that’s not me. Maybe if I put my glasses on… No, it’s still the same tub of lard. Bummer! I don’t know how this has happened, or maybe I do a little bit. But it just doesn’t seem possible. I feel... read more

Birthday Bash

Friday was my birthday. And while I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them as the years have swept swiftly by, I, as always, enjoyed my special day. I’m a firm believer in that we should celebrate ourselves. And we’re never too old for birthdays. Why is it that so many of us stop making a big deal out of ourselves, our accomplishments and our milestones? I know we can all tick of the reasons. It’s all about the lives we live. There are often so many complications, commitments and concerns that can consume us. We have people and pets to take care of. Many of us have jobs to do and homes to maintain. Financial problems, medical conditions and other issues can also distract us. But to me, these are all the reasons that we need to pamper ourselves from time to time. It’s just what the doctor (or in my case the dietitian) ordered. This year I didn’t go all out for my birthday, although I sometimes do. Party buses, weekend getaways and themed extravaganzas aren’t strangers to me. But because it wasn’t one of the classic important birthday years, I opted for something much less extravagant. My husband and I treated ourselves to several meals at favorite restaurants and a couple of movies to boot. It was fabulous. Mostly it was just spending time with someone I love, relaxing and doing things that I enjoy. And part of it was eating out and enjoying some of my favorite foods. I always tell the patients that I see that it’s important to eat nutritious meals most of the... read more

Dare To Dream

From early childhood I’ve always been a creative person. Among many things I enjoyed, and still do, is singing and acting in plays. But one of my most favorite things was, and is, writing. I wrote my first play when I was in 4th grade. It was a holiday play and not only was I the author, I was the star. Why not? I performed it for my class and I have this wonderful memory of my father building a chimney for me that I could climb through as part of my set. I went on to write several more plays, culminating in my crowning stage achievement with my 7th grade play, “Rocky and the Boys.” It was a bank robbery caper. And once again, I gave myself the starring role. I played Rocky. And as he always did, my father built the set which included a bank teller station. My mother provided the props and sat in the cafeteria and applauded while we put the play on in front of the entire 7th grade class. It was awesome! While this was my last play that I wrote, I acted and sang in others. And I never stopped writing. So many years later, in 2012, I wrote my first book FAST FOOD VINDICATION. It was hard work but very rewarding. This nutrition-based book is something that I’m quite proud of. And I believe that my parents would have been as well. Unfortunately, neither lived to read it. Last week I found out that FAST FOOD VINDICATION won two different awards for best nutrition book of the year. I’m absolutely... read more

Shop ’til You Drop

I was recently quoted in an article on the health benefits of shopping. The article, in Medical Daily, is timely as it discusses this topic with regard to Memorial Day sales. So, here’s the article with the quote from yours truly: http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/15832/20130523/memorial-day-sales-health-benefits-of-shopping-mental-health-physical-health.htm Visit Lisa Tillinger Johansen, MS, RD at her web sites at www.consultthedietitian.com and www.fastfoodvindication.com and on Facebook at Lisa Tillinger Johansen and on Twitter... read more

If You Get Milk, Get it Right

Do you drink milk? If you do, raise your hand high and proud. Unless you have a disease state or condition that prohibits you from doing so, milk is good for us. I highly recommend it. But let me ask you another question. Which strength is your choice? Are you a whole milk drinker? How about 2%, 1%, or the non-fat skim milk version? It’s nice that we have choices, but are they all good for us? Unfortunately not. In every class that I teach, I ask my patients which type of milk that they drink. Responses run the gamut, as I’m sure it does for those who are reading this blog. And boy do many of us have strong feelings about our favorite choice of this white beverage. Here’s what I tell people about milk. If you’re over the age of 2, whole milk should be off the table and out of our glasses. It’s too high in calories and fat (146 calories and 8 grams of fat in a one-cup serving). But if you’re under the age of 2, go for it! Those who are 2% drinkers aren’t off the hook here either. It’s the same refrain as whole milk. It contains too much fat and calories (122 calories and 5 grams of fat in a one-cup serving). But never fear. There are two choices left and they’re good ones. If you like 1% milk, enjoy it. It’s not a bad choice with 102 calories and 2 grams of fat. And you can’t beat non-fat (skim) milk with its 90 calories and 0 grams of fat. It’s... read more

Meals by Mom

Yesterday was the second Mother’s Day without my mother. It’s been a sixteen months since she passed away, yet it often seems as if I just saw her a moment ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. So on the day that we showcase our love and appreciation of our moms, memories of my own mother took a front seat. There are an endless amount of experiences that I shared with my mother. But as I sat with my husband at lunch, with a variety of dishes in front of us, I realized how much of these revolved around food. My mother was a fantastic cook. While growing up, she would whip up amazing culinary concoctions for our family. And looking back on them with my now dietitian eyes, I see that a good number of those meals were healthy, balanced and nutritious. Today’s healthy plate that I speak about to my patients mirrors how my mother often laid out our plates so many years ago. All the food groups were typically represented on our plates, Fruits, veggies, dairy, protein and grains were always there. And we were exposed to all different types of dishes. The world’s culinary delights were our own. And while the meals were delicious, they were only one part of the experience. It was a given that my mother, father, sister, brother and I all sat down for dinner together every night. We ate and caught up with each other about the days that we had. My siblings and I also sat down for breakfast together during the school week and... read more


I went to one of my favorite restaurants yesterday for lunch. It’s a salad bar, soup and other goodies, all-you-can-eat affair and I adore it! Where else can you get so many fantastic vegetables, fruit and other nutritious offerings that you can combine how you like? For me, it’s like walking into a garden chock full of healthy food. I fill my plate with appropriate portion sizes and rarely choose less nutritious items. But many take a different culinary path. It’s one that can pack unwanted pounds on. And I saw a lot of that going on in this particular restaurant. I’ve written about how many of us can consume far too many calories in one meal, often through dishes that we think are healthy. I’ve discoursed on the importance of looking at how we eat, everywhere we eat and the importance of choosing more nutritious foods most of the time, and even with these, monitoring how much food we put on our plates and then in our mouths. I’ve blogged, posted and tweeted about it. And, as some of you know, I wrote a book about it. It’s called FAST FOOD VINDICATION. FAST FOOD VINDICATION debunks the myth that fast food is the sole cause of the obesity epidemic, as well as many of the world’s problems. It explores less-known issues about the fast food industry and explores the surprising differences between like meals at fast foodrestaurants and sit-down restaurants. It also takes a look at how we eat at home and provides tips and direction for how to eat well for life. The book came out in... read more

Add the Pounds to Your Suitcase, Not Your Person

Summer is right around the corner and many of us are dusting off our suitcases with visions of vacations dancing in our heads. We’ll travel by trains, planes and automobiles, as well as by boat, bus, cycle and foot. Our vacations will run the gamut from visiting family and friends, exploring our own states and countries to immersing ourselves in cultures foreign to our own. All are wonderful pursuits. And while we will all utilize our time off in different ways, there’s certainly one thing that we’ll all do. We’ll eat. And we may eat too much. The consequence of this is that many of us will end up gaining a pound or two…or more. Now don’t get me wrong. Vacations are for letting go a bit and having fun. And when we find ourselves in different environments with different cuisines, we should definitely sample the local fare. But, it’s important that we not abandon our health entirely or pack on a lot of unwanted pounds. After all, a vacation is a short-term retreat. Our bodies are with us for life. So how do we navigate the sometimes dangerous waters of travel with regard to weight gain? By employing a few strategies, it’s not so difficult. Here are some tips: Stay active. If possible, keep up with your exercise regime. Also, while exploring the sites, do it on foot or by bike as much as you can. Wear a pedometer and make sure that you walk at least 10,000 steps per day. Don’t drink your calories. Enjoy water and other calorie-free/low calorie beverages. Aim to not completely abandon healthy... read more