Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review: Fast Food Vindication by Lisa Tillinger Johansen

Title: Fast Food Vindication
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Genre: Nonfiction; Self-Improvement
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: J Murray Press (October 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN: 0578110431

The fast-food industry has long been the whipping boy for all sorts  of health ills. Obesity in children and adults? Blame it on fast food.  Heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol? Fast food is the culprit.
Not so, says Lisa Tillinger Johansen in her new book, FAST FOOD  VINDICATION. Johansen, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian, takes  the bold position that “fast food is not the enemy, and it can be  incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, Johansen says, the  media’s current wave of anti-fast-food sentiment may actually be  detrimental to society’s health and well-being. “By focusing solely on  the fast-food industry, the onus is all too often removed from more  important factors:  personal responsibility and smart choices.”

In FAST FOOD VINDICATION, Johansen takes a lively, informative, and  realistic look at our eating habits, and, using her expertise and  experience as a registered dietitian, seeks to educate readers on making  smart dietary choices no matter where they eat.

“The book refutes the notion that fast food is an evil force in  society,” Johansen says. “The laser focus on fast food being the cause  of the obesity epidemic is not true, nor is it the complete picture.  There’s so much press about how fast food is detrimental to us. In  reality, that’s not the case. It’s about how we eat. We can eat poorly  at home and at sit-down and fast-food restaurants, but we can also make  healthier choices at all of these places. The majority of us don’t make  great choices. We need to look at everywhere we eat and how we eat.  Personal responsibility plays a big role.”

“Fast-food restaurants make big and easy targets,” Johansen  maintains. “So many of us eat at them, and, unfortunately, so many of us  are overweight or obese. But research has shown that we eat the  majority of our meals at home, so restaurants of all types are just a  part of the puzzle.”

“There are a lot of ways to make good choices at fast-food  restaurants,” according to Johansen. “For example, a grilled chicken  sandwich without mayo, coupled with a side salad with low-fat dressing  on the side and apple dippers without the dip, is one good meal that you  could put together. Most fast-food restaurants carry entrĂ©e salads,  yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, and other, more nutritious foods.”
On the other side of the issue, Johansen notes that an unhealthy  fast-food meal could include “fried foods of any type, regular sodas or  anything that is double, triple, quadruple or more.”

With the publication of FAST FOOD VINDICATION, Johansen hopes to  “present the side of an issue that hasn’t really been discussed much in  the media. By doing so, it should ultimately help people to learn to  look at the big picture and make appropriate changes to their diets as  needed.”

Who would have believed it’s okay to eat at fast food restaurants?  Of course, it’s not everything you can eat there just as it’s not good to eat certain foods at regular restaurants but Lisa Tillinger-Johansen, author of Fast Food Vindication,  really opened my eyes to the food you can eat and actually are quite healthy for you.

Johansen is currently a registered dietitian working the health education department at a major hospital in Southern California.  She also teaches nutrition to at-risk senior adults as part of a grant program.  Before that, she spent seven years as a real estate executive at McDonald’s Corporation.  Her move to leave McDonalds wasn’t spurred by the fast food industry’s reputation but just that she was ready for something else.

In Fast Food  Vindication, Johansen teaches us how to eat for life, where to focus our eating habits and to understand how fast food affects our lives because, face it, fast food is here to stay.

From a health perspective, Johansen knows firsthand that the menus of fast food restaurants are loaded with high-fat, high-calorie items and names certain items on these menus you should avoid altogether.  She agrees that the sodium content of many of these items are off the charts.  With Fast Food Vindication, Johensen shows you how to open your eyes to this and what items are perfectly healthy to eat such as garden burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches (my personal favorite), salads, apple slices, carrot sticks (I didn’t even realize fast food restaurants carried these), baked potatoes (yum yum) and fruit and yogurt parfaits.

Johansen believes it is important to be aware, to be knowledgeable and to accept responsibility for what you eat.  If you choose fries and a double whopper burger, that’s on you.

One point Johanson brought up was interesting.  Fast food restaurants introduce light fare but because sales are lackluster, they discontinue them.  If we want to keep healthier choices on these menus, we have to get it in our heads to buy them even when a dripping burger is tempting us.  We need to be in control.  The fast food companies are doing their part and are concerned with nutrition but if they put their plan into action and introduce these more nutritional foods and no one buys them, are we going to continue berating fast food restaurants by calling their food “junk food” or are we going to get smart, agree to eat smart, and keep these companies from discontinuing food that would be good for us?  Are we to blame for these companies offering calorie-laden burgers?  Yes.  Because that’s what we buy.

Another point that was interesting was the fact that when we go to sit down restaurants to eat, we are consuming more calories than if we went out to eat at most take outs.  Some of these sit downs, you are served baskets of rolls or tortilla chips or whatever and because you in hungry, you tend to eat more of these before your main meal is served.  Then when it is served, you are taking in lots of calories.  This was a point I never thought about and I’m sure you haven’t too.

Johansen’s book is definitely worth checking out.  Not only does it open your eyes to a healthier eating lifestyle, you don’t have to give up your favorite fast food restaurants.  A must read for families who likes the convenience of take out and saving money and yet wants to feed their families healthy choices.  Have you ever taken a family of four out to a sit down restaurant?  It breaks the bank nowadays.  The main thing about this book is that it teaches you how to eat healthier and whether you want to admit it or not, it’s the better way to go.