The Kraft Cheese Debacle

Earlier this month, Kraft Singles cheese slices became the first food—ever—to be officially endorsed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). As members of the AND (and proud supporters, we might add), we, like most dietitians, did a double take. A food that is similar to cheese, but not quite cheesy enough to actually be called cheese, is the first food to proudly display the name of Kids Eat Right. Really?

We weren’t the only ones to notice. The news media exploded with articles on what appeared to be an endorsement of processed food. And in response, the AND wrote the following:

Unfortunately, recent news articles misstated a collaboration as a Kids Eat Right “endorsement” of Kraft Singles, and that it represents a “seal of approval” from Kids Eat Right, the Foundation, or the Academy. It is not an endorsement. It is not a seal of approval. We understand this distinction is of little consequence to many Academy members who are concerned with the perception. We are working on a solution.

This week we learned that the AND and Kraft are in discussions to terminate the pilot program.

We at Feed to Succeed are relieved to hear about the end to the label. We advocate a diet of real food: whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein and yes, real cheese.




Kids in the Kitchen Contest

Introducing Kids in the Kitchen–our monthly contest for mini cooks! No doubt one of the best ways to teach kids healthy habits is to seek their help in the kitchen. Each month in this newsletter we will feature on lucky little chef cooking or baking. Send photos and or a recipe on our Facebook page to enter. All chefs will be featured on our blog, and the winner will be featured in our e-newsletter (plus, he or she will receive an Amazon gift card!).

Happy cooking!

Alexandra 1

Alexandra, age 12, baking parker house rolls

Alexandra, age 12, baking parker house rolls

Alyssa, age 2, helps her mom bake a cake.

Alyssa, age 2, helps her mom bake a cake

More cake is on Anthony's hands than in the pan!

More cake is on Anthony’s hands than in the pan!

Gluten free baked oatmeal

Gluten free baked oatmeal

Gia Diakakis, RD

Welcome Gia Diakakis

We are very excited to expand our practice with the addition of Gia Diakakis, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, an outstanding dietitian professional whose wonderful rapport with children is apparent from the start.

Gia joined Feed to Succeed officially in February, after several months of working intermittently with Betsy. Prior to this, Gia worked at Rush-Presbyterian – St. Luke’s Medical Center as a neonatal/pediatric nutrition support team dietitian. There she was responsible for parental nutrition and enteral nutrition along with diet management of weight loss, weight gain, diabetes mellitus, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, GI disease (including inflammatory bowel disease) food allergy and more. She brings this great depth of knowledge and experience to Feed to Succeed clients.

Since visiting a nutritionist in high school, Gia knew it was a field she wanted to explore. “Nutrition has always been a big part of my family life. Both my parents were born in Greece. My Dad owned fresh produce grocery store, so we had very little processed foods,” says Gia.

Now that she’s a practicing nutritionist herself, Gia says that working with kids is especially rewarding. When she is able to help a client with complex issues gain weight or start eating solids for the first time, Gia sees the direct impact of her efforts.

And for clients with less complex issues, the effort is no less rewarding. “People underestimate how powerful and impactful diet can be,” Gia says.

Gia tries to encourage small steps to lead to big improvements in clients’ lives. Two small changes at a time, like drinking more water at school and eating more fruit, can lead to more lifestyle changes. Attainable goals lead to real outcomes.

Ultimately, with any patient, Gia says that cultivating a relationship is essential. “I want them to see me as a friend who cares and not as the nutrition police.”

Gia says she is very fortunate to work with kids at Feed to Succeed. “Pediatric nutrition is when kids’ bodies are growing, creating the habits for rest of their lives.”

We Moved!

We are thrilled to announce our new location on West Lake in Glenview! After six years of sharing a space with another health professional, we now have an office of our own. Together with Dr. Suzanne Nelson of Children’s Gastroenterology Specialists, Feed to Succeed is now located at 3633 West Lake Ave., Suite 103 in Glenview.

Our space is larger, kid friendly and close to Glenbrook Hospital. Clients who need to access a lab can quickly reach one at the nearby hospital.

Our new phone number is 847.724.8015

Grocery shopping on site!

Grocery shopping on site!

Can't wait to see you here soon!

Can’t wait to see you here soon!

Emulsifiers: Another Reason to Avoid Processed Foods

By Gia Diakakis, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC

My favorite piece of nutrition advice comes from author Michael Pollan: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

While the idea doesn’t apply as well to me—coming from a family from a village high in the mountains of Greece (thus eliminating most foods around me)—I nevertheless understand the message loud and clear. Many food items available are packaged, shelf stable and convenient, bearing little resemblance to the food generations of grandparents before us ate.

As a nutritionist, eliminating packaged and processed foods has always been something I recommend, but I sometimes struggle to provide strong enough evidence to convince families to eliminate them from their diet.

I am ecstatic to say, I finally have it! If you’re ever looking for another reason to eat whole and fresh foods, look no further. This past month, a journal article was published titled, “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.”

In the time it took me to read this article, I stopped three times to text various friends urging them to “NEVER eat anything with dietary emulsifiers ever again!”

Before I continue, let me explain what dietary emulsifiers are. Dietary emulsifiers are substances that are added to food items to prevent separation. You can think of them as thickeners or stabilizers. They are substances that help ice cream stay creamy, pasta sauces stay thick, cookies stay soft and salad dressings remain mixed. Picture salad dressing from the store. They are often perfectly uniform in color, with no separation. Now imagine your homemade balsamic vinaigrette. While delicious, it quickly separates into two layers: an oil layer and a vinegar layer. The difference in these two items is emulsifiers.

For purposes of writing this blog post, I attempted to find a comprehensive list of foods that contain dietary emulsifiers. They are present in so many foods that it’s nearly impossible. Different brands contain different items, so while one salad dressing on the grocery store shelf may contain emulsifiers, the one next to it will not. As most dietitians say, you need to read food labels! If there are items in the ingredient list you don’t recognize, avoid it. A few of the most common emulsifiers to avoid are

  • polysorbate 80
  • lecithin
  • carrageenan
  • polyglycerols
  • xanthan gum (and other“gums”)
  • CSL Calcium Stearoyl Di Laciate
  • PolyGlycerol Ester (PGE)
  • Sorbitan Ester (SOE)
  • PG Ester (PGME)
  • Sugar Ester (SE)
  • Monoglyceride (MG)
  • Acetylated Monoglyceride (AMG)
  • Lactylated Monoglyceride (LMG)

In reading this new journal article, many things I was always unable to put into words were suddenly right in front of me. Dietary emulsifiers (specifically CMC (carboxymethylcellulose) and P80 (polysorbate-80) were found to promote colitis and metabolic syndrome. A few additional findings included impaired blood glucose control and increased bacterial adherence in the bowel. These emulsifiers were called “detergent-like molecules”  to the gut which really put it into perspective for me. They impact gastrointestinal health and metabolic health–two separate systems, both equally important to our overall health.

I can go on and on about this but what’s my bottom line? While this research is new and hot, the end message is the same as one I have always said. Eat as much fresh and whole food as you can and try to limit processed foods. If something doesn’t spoil relatively soon after purchase, don’t eat it. Be aware of what you’re putting into your body.