3 minutes with Dr Joanna McMillan

3 Minutes with Dr Joanna McMillan is part of a series of interviews “3 minutes with…” showcasing some of the outstanding presenters you will enjoy at Lifestyle Medicine 2017. These interviews are designed to delve deeper into what inspires our speakers about Lifestyle Medicine, their work and life in general.

We recently announced Dr Joanna McMillan as one of our three MCs at Lifestyle Medicine 2017.  The Honorary Aussie has been a regular on TV, radio, and in print media as a result of her high profile career in the health and fitness industries and we could not be more thrilled to have her on board.

But something you may not know is that Joanna is a past Vice President of ASLM and a strong advocate for Lifestyle Medicine.

Here’s what the nutrition scientist, dietitian and founder of Get Lean, had to say:

How did you become interested in health promotion?

I’ve been interested in health since I was a teenager. I first studied psychology, then trained as a fitness leader before adding nutrition science to the mix. Through my studies and my career, it became increasingly obvious that preventative health is not given enough attention as the focus has always been on the medical model – cure people once sick. I have seen firsthand what a difference a healthy diet and lifestyle makes to the health and happiness of people today, as well as having the well researched benefits to long term health. If only we could get a stronger voice out there to make a real difference… so that’s what I strive to do!

With ‘clean eating’ and ‘fitspiration’ all the rage, people feel like they are being bombarded with healthy lifestyle messages. Why do you think this trend is not reflected in society’s health?

In part I think people are either confused because of all the conflicting messages out there, or they feel its all too hard as many of the messengers promote extreme approaches or lifestyles that

are just too far removed from their own. I’m all for freedom of speech but unfortunately it has meant that anyone can publish a book, write a blog or sell a diet, regardless of what qualifications they have to speak on the topic. It’s amazing to be able to find so much information on the internet, but is it really wise to take your nutrition advice from a celebrity? Seems crazy, but that’s what is happening.


If you could address only one of the barriers facing a shift towards preventative health, what would it be?

The perception of time. Lots of people tell me they don’t have time to prepare and eat home cooked meals and so convenience wins… and that usually means less nutritious and more energy dense food. It also means less priority given to mealtimes and less joy found in food and sharing a meal. In reality I think many people could find the time if they had the right skills (to budget, plan and cook quick meals) and knowledge, as well as believing in the benefits so that they want to give it priority. At the end of the day, if you have the right ingredients at hand a family meal can be on the table in 20 minutes… less time than it takes to pick up takeaway.

Do you think health professionals should be vocal on environmental issues?

Yes, absolutely. How we live and eat today has a huge impact on the health of our planet so the two are intertwined. It worries me that many of the popular diet trends pay no heed to environmental concerns and promote diets that simply cannot feed our growing world population. We have to be thinking more holistically.

You have 3 hours of completely uninterrupted time; how do you spend it?

I’d either head out for a super long walk with my dog and a girlfriend to chat with… or I’d do the reverse and curl up on the sofa with a good novel!

What is your favourite meal to cook for family and friends?

I make a pretty mean Spanish seafood stew that I find the most successful way to get my family eating seafood. I serve it with a gorgeous big green salad and crusty wholegrain sourdough to mop up the juices. Delicious!

ind out more about Lifestyle Medicine 2017 here.

And watch Joanna speaking about Lifestyle Medicine in Australasia here.