Interview with Lisa Tillinger Johansen, author of 'Fast Food Vindication'

 Interview with Lisa Tillinger Johansen, author of 'Fast Food Vindication'

Lisa Tillinger Johansen is a registered dietitian and health educator who teaches a variety of classes on diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, weight management, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and healthy eating for adults and teens. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutritional science, Coordinated Dietetics Program, from California State University, Los Angeles.

Her latest book is Fast Food Vindication.

Visit her website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The germ of the idea came while I was in school studying for my master’s degree in nutritional science.  I had left my job as a real estate manager for McDonald’s Corporation to prepare for a career in the healthcare industry.  I know you might be thinking that the McDonald’s food drove me to make such a drastic change, but that’s not the case.  I’ve always been interested in eating for health, and as I neared my mid-forties, I thought it was a now or never situation to follow my dream.  While in school, I often heard my fellow student’s extremely negative opinions of fast food.  At the same time, the media was bombarding us with anti-fast food stories, blaming the industry for many of society’s problems.  Later, when I became a registered dietitian and started seeing patients, I saw the real need to set the record straight.  Fast food is not the enemy, nor the cause of the obesity epidemic.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The topic wasn’t hard at all for me because I am very well-versed in both the fast food industry and nutrition.  I wrote the book the same way that I teach my health education classes, so the lively, yet straightforward style was easy to come by.  But it was daunting to look at the blank screen and write hundreds of pages.  Finding the time to do so, while working at the hospital, was also challenging.

So with what I learned, I guess that I would tell other writers to pick a topic that they’re passionate about and for which they have some knowledge or aptitude.  It’s a long journey, so enjoy the ride.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I originally started working with a literary agent in New York and approaching publishing houses.  Honestly, this was the route I really wanted to go.  But as I got into it, I realized the visions that were being presented to me weren’t compatible with mine.  I still can’t believe I did it, but I decided to leave the agency and strike out on my own.  I made the decision to self-publish my book.  It was a bit of a bumpy road and there were times that I wanted to quit, but my conviction in the topic and my book kept me going.  And I’m so glad that I did.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I don’t think that I was prepared for all the excitement that I would feel through the whole process.  It was great!  From the writing of it, to approving the cover, to doing interviews like this one, it’s been a thrill.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time? 

It’s so amazing to see the finished product.  It’s your baby and you love it.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have two books that I’m working on.  One, Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off!, addresses all of the different diets and diet aids out there and discusses the best way to eat for life.  My other book, Diet and Disease: A Guide for What to Eat, No Matter What Ails You, covers what the title implies.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

We all eat.  Anything that helps us to understand how to put together a healthy meal sure makes the world a better place!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Look at the big picture with regard to your eating habits.  Where, when, why and how are important questions to ask ourselves.  Take responsibility for what you put in your mouth.  I recommend making healthy choices most of the time.  That includes fast food restaurants.  They have better choices and can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.  It was a pleasure.

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