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 entrée 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.”
Do you eat at fast food restaurants? It’s okay, a lot of us do. Over 50 percent of Americans, and many people worldwide, eat fast food. We’re not going to stop patronizing these establishments. And that’s fine. Can you eat a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant? Sure you can. Can you go the other direction? Of course. So it’s important to make healthy choices most of the time wherever we eat.
How do you think that fast food restaurants stack up to sit-down restaurants, or eating at home? If you think that fast food is always the less healthy diet choice, you’re wrong. In fact, the golden arches and the like have often gotten a bad rap, while other dining venues have seemed to skate a bit. This may be one of the reasons why so many Americans are overweight or obese and why this trend is spreading across the globe.
It’s important for all of us to take a good hard look at our diets. What did you eat today? Where did you eat it? Was the food nutritious or not so much? What about portion sizes and how the food was prepared? Were you on target there? These are important questions and definitely something to think about.