Why Healthy Fat is Essential for Our Brains By Gia Diakakis, RD

Nutrition is tied to everything in life. Even things that may seem as if they have nothing to do with food and nutrition, like rising rates of ADHD, can be in one way or another linked to diet and eating habits. It’s when I discover these kinds of connections between diet and other areas of health that I will have moments that I think, “This is exactly why I chose to make a career out of nutrition.”

My most recent “aahh” moment was last week. It was a hot summer day in Chicago and my baby Theodore and I were taking a stroll with our friends’ house. My friend Christine is an RN and when the two of us are together, we often discuss health issues. On this particular stroll, we were discussing a book called “Bringing Up Bébé,” which is a book that addressed the differences in French parenting and lower incidences of ADHD. Christine then said, “You know, I just saw an article that was published that shows a link between inadequate fat intake and ADHD in young boys.” That was when the “aahh” moment happened! I immediately asked her to forward me the article so I could dive into the research. read more

Gluten free cookbook

Gluten Free Cookbook Meal Plans, Recipes and More

Whether you or your child just started eating gluten free, or whether you’re already a pro, our new gluten free diet cookbook contains everything you need to know for healthy, balanced gluten free meals.

The interactive tablet and phone-friendly cookbook contains meal plans, recipes, tips for gluten free living and nutrition facts. What sets this book apart from other GF cookbooks on the market is the expert advice and detailed meal plans from our pediatric registered dietitian, Betsy Hjelmgren. read more

Healthy, Easy School Lunch Ideas Back to School Lunches

With this first week of school underway, everyone’s favorite chore of packing school lunches starts anew. As parents, it’s a common struggle to balance healthy choices, easy options and food our kids will actually eat. That’s why we’ve got five tips to make this year’s school lunches easy, healthy and kid-friendly.

1. Start with a bento box: We sang the praises of the bento box last year on this site, and it’s worth restating here. Whatever one you choose–a cheap one from Target or a fancy one on Amazon–bento boxes make it easier to pack real food for lunch and save on unnecessary waste. Plus, it’s a lot more pleasant to eat over a plate than a lunch bag. read more

Move Over Panera Easy, Fast Lunch Sandwich

Best cheap appliance around

Best cheap appliance around

As parents, most of us have moved beyond Ramen and cereal days of college, regardless of how much we cook. Might we suggest, though, reverting back to college eats in one arena? The sandwich maker.

At Target, right next to the husband pillows, futons and plastic dishes you’ll find a whole slew of them for cheap right now.

Buy one. It will change your life.

Or at least your lunch. And the school lunches of your kids.

That is, unless you don’t like hot, cheesy, gooey awesomeness.

2 slices whole wheat bread (even the sprouted bread tastes good in one of these!) or half a pita
Your choice of shredded cheese
Thinly sliced veggies of your choice: cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms
Spinach or kale
butter read more


Sweet Potato Fries National French Fries Day

We think our gluten free sweet potato fries for ‪#‎NationalFrenchFriesDay‬ are pretty awesome, so please share our recipe!https://feedtosucceed.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sweet-Potato-Fries.jpg

3 raw sweet potatoes, 5” long, cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 450*F.
2. Wash and peel potatoes. Cut into wedges.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar and salt.
4. Add the wedges and toss to evenly coat.
5. Spread sweet potatoes on a greased baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
6. Bake for 15 minutes then flip potatoes and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Serve immediately. read more

Treating Underweight Children at Any Age Questions and Answers for Helping Children Gain Weight

Despite the well-known obesity epidemic in our country, approximately 5 percent of children struggle with the opposite issue and are underweight. Because body fat is critical to healthy growth and brain development, we work with underweight children from infants to young adults to achieve the healthy growth they need in order to thrive.

Following are some questions and answers on treatment for underweight children.

  1. How do we determine when a child is underweight?

According to the CDC, children with BMI values below the 5th percentile of the sex-specific BMI-for-age growth charts are categorized as underweight. This means that each child’s weight is compared to his or her height. At Feed to Succeed, we assess a child’s overall growth pattern and also consider the size of a child’s parents. A child who is thin or slight is not necessarily underweight. read more

Patriotic Pops Healthy Treat for July Fourth

Move over Bomb Pops, these red, white & blue Patriotic Pops are just as fun and a whole lot healthier.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.07.57 PM


Red Layer:
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1T honey or maple syrup

White Layer:
1 overripe banana
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk

Blue Layer:
1/3 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1T honey or maple syrup


Mix the three different layers in a blender, one at a time. Store the white and blue mixtures in the fridge. Pour the red layer into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 30 minutes. read more

On the Run Summer Snacks By Betsy Hjelmgren

With a whirlwind of outdoor activities, day trips and late bedtimes in the summer, healthy eating often takes a backseat to convenience. That’s why we’ve come up with some healthy, easy and delicious snacks to stand up to even the hardest temptations.

Below are five on-the-go snack and meal ideas in order of how long they take to prepare. We started with the easiest (1 minute) and worked our way toward the most ambitious (5+ minutes).

  1. Grab and Go. Of all the ready-made snacks, some are certainly better than others (and nearly all of them are better than ice cream every day at the pool snack bar!). To keep kids full longer, consider adding these few pre-packaged but minimally (or not at all) processed snacks. Individually portioned hummus, guacamole or nut butters as dips can serve as a mini meal. Bars, like Larabars, and fruit are easy and great options.
  2. Trail Mix. Good, old-fashioned trail mix is easy to make at home. Throw in any cereal, pretzel, dried fruit, chocolate chips, seeds and nuts in a big zip lock. Turn it into an activity and put out some choices the night before and let your kids make their own custom snack mix to hit the road with. This has a bit more sugar, but when you stack it against other snacks, it still packs on the fruit, protein and whole grain servings.
  3. Whole-Wheat Pita Pizza. Pita pizza wraps take all of four steps: open fridge, take out toppings and pita (or wraps), assemble, press in a hot sandwich maker or toss it in a microwave. REPEAT!
  4. Fruit and Yogurt. Freeze your yogurt in advance to give yourself a couple hours of defrosting time before eating it on the road. Pack fruit in containers, or you can even layer them on skewer sticks and wrap in aluminum.
  5. Whole Wheat Pancakes with Nut or Seed Butter. Spread nut butter or maple syrup between two pancakes for fun sandwiches on the road. Try our banana pancakes or make your own. Kodiak Flapjacks, available at Target and other groceries is an even easier version that’s whole wheat, with minimal ingredients.


Healthy eating, much like your summer, is a journey and adventure. Try your best, have patience and mostly importantly have fun! read more

7 Reasons the New Nutrition Labels Are Better Gia M.Diakakis MS, RD, LDN, CNSC

After more than 20 years (1993!), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally made changes and updated the nutrition facts label that we rely on so often when choosing our foods. When I initially heard the news, I was worried the label would become more difficult to read and use, but I have been delightfully proven wrong. It seems the changes the FDA has made help to highlight some of the most important items on the label.

New food lable

  1. Servings: The new label brings attention to the serving size and number of servings per container. The serving size, when evaluating a food item, is paramount to understanding the item itself. A consumer can pick up a box of cereal, read “calories 90,” and easily assume it is a low cal. If the consumer fails to look at the “serving size 1/3 cup” and eats 1.5 cups of the cereal, their “low calorie” cereal catapults from 90 calories to 405 calories (a 450% misinterpretation of the calories!). In addition to bringing attention to the serving size and number of servings per container, they have also adjusted the serving size (only in items they felt were relevant) to reflect the serving size consumers are now consuming. For example, that cereal box we just discussed, would have “1.5 cup” listed as a serving and not “1/3 cup.” Time will tell if consumers will see the serving size as a suggested serving or if this modification will lead to healthier choices.Serving size
  2. Calories: The font of the calories per serving will be increase to help draw consumers’ attention to the area.
  3. Daily Values: The “% Daily Values” have been updated to reflect “newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and other reports such as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report”1. This just means the amount recommended for daily consumption has changes for some of the items, and the label has been adjust to reflect this.
  4. Added Sugars: This may be the change I am most excited for. We have always instructed our patients to look at the “total carbohydrates” line of the nutrition facts label, and this will not change. The new “added sugars” line will help consumers steer away (hopefully!) from food items that have a large amount of added sugars (versus naturally occurring sugars). Including the word “added” may draw attention to how far the product has deviated from its natural state (ex: dried fruit) or how unnatural and processed the item itself is (ex: Oreo cookies).
  5. Vitamin D & Potassium: Goodbye vitamin A & vitamin C and hello vitamin D & Potassium. Since vitamin A and C are no longer inadequate in the American diet, they have been removed and replaced with two nutrients our diets have been shown insufficient in our diets (Vitamin D & Potassium). Manufacturers have the option to continue to include Vitamin A and Vitamin C on the label, but it is no longer mandatory.
  6. Micronutrients: In addition to adding Vitamin D & Potassium, the label will also include the actually amount of the four mandatory micronutrients on the label (Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Potassium). This is super helpful, especially since a child has a different requirement for calcium than adults.
  7. Footnote: Daily values at the bottom of the label has been updated. The old label stated, “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.” The new label reads, “The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a Graham & Roberto study evaluating the impact of the FDA label changes. They assessed visual tracking on the old nutrition facts label versus the new nutrition facts label. Their main findings were the following: read more

5 Ways to Reduce Childhood Obesity By Carmyn Zoller, RD

As a dietitian who spends considerable time thinking about children’s’ health, there is no doubt in my mind that key to a lifetime of healthy living is combating childhood obesity. Depressing results from a recent study on contestants in the popular television show, The Biggest Loser, reinforce that knowledge.

The study, featured in The New York Times, looked at contestants of the show’s season 8, following them for six years after the program. Findings that showed nearly all the showing contestants gained considerable weight led to surprising new discoveries about the physiology of obesity, explaining why so many people struggle unsuccessfully to maintain weight loss. read more