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 celery a waste of a vegetable?

So many people diss celery! I don’t know why. Celery is loaded with nutrients. Among other things it has vitamins A,C and K, folate and fiber. It’s low in calorie and sodium. So bring on the celery stalks! read more

Blood pressure numbers?

What do the two different blood pressure numbers mean? The gold standard for blood pressure is for it to be less than 120/80. The top (or first) number, in this case 120, is the systolic pressure. It’s the measurement of how hard the heart is contracting when it beats. The lower (or second) number, in this case 80, is the diastolic pressure. It’s the measurement of the heart relaxing after it... read more

Good chicken recipe?

Plain chicken is boring to me. Do you have a good chicken recipe? I do. An old friend of mine gave me a very simple but tasty recipe. All you need are skinless chicken breasts, Dijon mustard, plain breadcrumbs, dried parsley and PAM. To prepare the recipe, preheat the oven to 350°. Spray PAM on a cookie sheet. Then mix 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs with 2 tbsp of dried parsley. Pour this mixture onto a plate. Then take one skinless chicken breasts and spread about ½ tbsp of the mustard on one side. Dredge this side in the breadcrumb and dried parsley mixture. Then spread another ½ tbsp on the other side of the chicken while it sits on the plate, turn the breast over and dredge that side. Continue this until all of the chicken breasts are coated on each side and placed on the cookie sheet. Cook the chicken for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°. Enjoy the chicken with salad or a vegetable medley, ½ cup of brown rice and some fruit.... read more

Opinion on juicing?

What’s your opinion on juicing? Juicing can be fine, or not. It depends on your recipe. Focus on mostly using non-starchy veggies like spinach, kale, beets and carrots. If you use fruit, only put in one serving such as a small apple or orange, half a banana or ¾ cup of blueberries. Too much fruit will make the juice too high in calorie and sugar. I recommend that your juicer not remove the fiber from the fruit and veggies. We want the fiber in the drink. You might also consider making a smoothie by adding in a cup of plain nonfat yogurt or nonfat... read more

Why is chicken skin bad?

Why is eating the chicken skin bad? Poultry skin contains saturated fat which isn’t heart healthy. It can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. So remove the skin on chicken and turkey, preferably before cooking. Your heart will thank you for... read more

Butter or margarine?

Butter or Margarine? If it’s trans fat free margarine, then it’s either that or butter. If the margarine isn’t trans fat free, then use butter. But remember these are fats, so both choices should be portion controlled and... read more

Nut serving size?

What’s a serving size of nuts? I tell people that a serving size of nuts is one comfortably closed handful. This equates to 6 almonds or cashews, or four walnut halves or 16 pistachios. read more

Favorite exercise?

What’s your favorite exercise? My routine includes walking on the treadmill, yoga, weight lifting and balance and toning exercises. And I enjoy them all. But my most favorite exercise is swimming, which I do about four times a week. read more

Craziest diet ever?

What’s the craziest diet you’ve ever heard of? There are quite a few. I talk about them in my book STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF! The latest crazy diet I’ve come across is the cotton ball diet. People soak the cotton balls in juice or another liquid and swallow 4 to 5 of them. Why? They want to get full so they eat less. I can’t imagine why anyone would do this and I don’t recommend... read more

Is avocado good for you?

Is avocado good for you? Yes, it is. Avocado is a monounsaturated fat which is heart healthy. But avocado is a fat, which means it’s high in calorie. A serving size is one-fifth of a medium avocado or two level tablespoons. If you’re eating half the avocado, the whole thing, or a giant bowl of guacamole, you’re getting too many... read more

Coumadin vs. Vitamin K?

I’m on Coumadin. Do I have to avoid foods with vitamin K? Coumadin, or Warfarin, is a blood thinner. Vitamin K helps the blood clot, which is the opposite of what you want. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid vitamin K rich foods. People taking Coumadin can typically have small and consistent amounts each day or several times a week. Don’t overdo it and, again, be consistent. Vitamin K rich foods include green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, cabbage, collard greens, romaine and green leaf lettuce, endive, turnip greens and green tea. Garlic, and other herbs and herb supplements, when taken with Coumadin can increase the chance of bleeding and bruising. Please tell your doctor about all over-the-counter vitamins, minerals and herbs you’re taking, as some should be avoided. I also suggest you work with your health care provider regarding regular blood checks, foods to limit and any changes needed to medication... read more

How many steps should I walk?

I got a pedometer at a health fair. How many steps should I walk? The goal is 10,000 steps a day which equals five miles. If you find you’re walking less than that, no problem. Just increase your steps each day or week until you get there. Besides going on walks or exercising on the treadmill, you can also take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in parking lots (if safe) and just take the long way around on foot as often as you can. You can even march in place while you’re sitting down watching... read more

Daily calories for weight loss?

I’m 5’3” and weigh 150 pounds. How many calories can I have in a day to lose weight? Aim for 1,200 calories a day. Don’t consume less calories than that and don’t skip meals. Enjoy balanced healthy meals and include daily... read more

Should I go gluten-free?

What’s gluten? And should I go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight? Gluten is a protein that’s in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. People with celiac disease must avoid it because even small amounts of gluten can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. There are also some that have gluten sensitivity and may suffer symptoms after eating gluten products. But this accounts for about 1% of the population. So if that’s not you, I don’t recommend a gluten-free diet. Not only can it be expensive, it’s a tough diet to follow as a lot of items contain gluten. And eliminating whole wheat and other high fiber foods can make it difficult to get all the fiber we should have in a day. I do recommend that you monitor portion sizes, like a half cup serving size of rice, pasta and oatmeal. Aim for balanced meals in which one-half of the plate is non-starchy veggies, one-quarter is protein and the other quarter is starch. Fruit and low fat or nonfat dairy are outside the plate. Prepare food in a healthy manner such as baking, grilling, roasting, steaming and baking. Don’t drink your calories and don’t skip meals. And if your doctor approves, engage in 60 minutes of physical activity a minimum of 5 days a... read more