Know Your Professor: Lisa Brown

November 18, 2014

Lisa Brown

Professor Brown is Assistant Professor of nutrition and Dietetic Internship Coordinator. Lisa shared fun facts about herself and some nutritional tips for the holiday season!

What is your favorite class to teach?

I really enjoy teaching introductory nutrition, Nutrition 111/112; it's so much fun to try to get students as excited about nutrition as I am. I like that the course includes both nutrition majors and non-majors because a basic knowledge of nutrition is helpful no matter what your major is. Good nutrition and lifestyle habits are vital for maintaining lifelong health. I feel strongly that teaching students how to keep themselves healthy may be one of the most important things they learn here.

What's your favorite book?

I've been reading the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, which I really enjoy. So far I've read the first two books, Fall of Giants and Winter of the World. The third book came out in September and I hope I have time to read it over winter break. I'm a history buff and I love the human spin he puts on global events.

Fill in the blank: When I was in college I...

Was very involved in student activities and clubs. I was a Big Sister, I ran the student community service club and was very active with the student-alumni relations committee, among other things. I also double majored in psychology and American government and minored in early childhood education and history. I still regret that I never made time to study abroad and strongly encourage any students who have an interest in going abroad to do so.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

I've always wanted to go to Ireland; I have heard it's beautiful. Of course with two young kids I would love to go anywhere that isn't Orlando, Florida.

When I'm not teaching I'm...

Usually doing something with/for my kids. I try to volunteer in their classrooms -- I'm the Girl Scout troop leader for my daughter's Brownie troop, and her Destination Imagination team manager. My son is only four, so he doesn't have as much going on, but I suspect I will be doing similar things for him in a few years.
Like many of my colleagues in the health sciences majors, I still practice in my profession. For some certifications it's required, and it also just keeps us current so we can be better at teaching the students who will become professionals in the our field. Year-round, I see private nutrition clients at the YMCA in Framingham a few hours a week. Periodically, I provide vacation coverage for a dietitian at a long term care facility in West Roxbury. I generally work 8 to 10 weeks in the summer covering the facility and then maybe a week or two during the school year.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I don't really consider it a talent, but I grew up working on cars with my dad -- I still do it when I have enough time.

Favorite quote?

"Aim at the sun, and you may not reach it; but your arrow will fly far higher than if aimed at an object level with yourself" Attributed to Joel Hawes.

What song is your personal anthem?

At the end of the day I often think of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing." "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson works equally well.

I love my students because...

They are amazing people. They teach me more than I teach them.

I love Simmons because...

We allow students to find their voice and take an active role in shaping who they want to be.

What are your top 3 tips for staying healthy throughout the holiday season?

  1. Go ahead and try everything, but only eat regular portions of the stuff you really like. Using smaller bowls and plates and even a smaller spoon for dessert can help limit portions.
  2. Plan some active outdoor family activities so that you don't sit around the house all day picking at food that's out for the occasion. For example, my daughter and I try to hike the conservation land behind our house on Thanksgiving. I know some other families that have a family touch football game or soccer game.
  3. If the holiday meal is at your house, distribute the meal leftovers as guests leave, try not to keep excess food in your house.

Are there any Thanksgiving dishes that should be avoided?

There is nothing that really needs to be avoided, but be smart about what you choose to fill your plate with. My family has been known to make sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and then also have bread and stuffing on the table. I generally advise people to choose one carbohydrate-based side dish (or small portions of two), a protein which is usually the main meal dish, and then focus the rest of the meal on vegetables such as salad, or cooked veggies that may be served such as green beans or carrots. Eat all the veggies before you go back for seconds of anything else.

What's the healthiest Thanksgiving dish?

Almost any dish could be healthy or unhealthy depending on how it's prepared. Easy changes can make a world of difference. For example, instead of making green beans or carrots in butter, you can roast them in olive oil. I grew up with sweet potatoes that my mom pan fried in margarine and covered with brown sugar. We now bake them with a little maple syrup and honey and they taste almost the same. Even Turkey can be more or less "processed." My family is fortunate enough to have a Turkey farm down the road where you can order free range Turkey. These birds are very different nutritionally than a factory farmed bird, and most of the family agrees that it tastes better.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

My favorite Thanksgiving dishes are the ones I grew up with. Candied sweet potatoes are one of my favorites, and we have found a healthier way to make them over the years, but they taste almost the same as the margarine-soaked, sugar laden ones from my childhood. I also love my mother's stuffing, which is funny since she makes gluten-free stuffing for my dad who has Celiac disease. I don't have Celiac and I am not gluten free, but because of my dad, many of the "comfort" foods I grew up with are gluten free and I've been eating my mom's homemade gluten free stuffing for most of my life -- I look forward to it every year.