Following a low FODMAP diet each day can be a challenging task for anyone with digestive issues. However, this task becomes even more difficult when you are trying to help your child avoid symptoms triggers. Many children who deal with digestive symptoms may not be fully aware of the foods they should avoid or how to read an ingredient label. Therefore, it is up to the adult in charge of preparing the child’s meals to do the investigative work. Not only that, but a child’s palate may not be as diverse as that of an adult, so this can make meal prep even harder. Read below for tips on how to make delicious lunches for children that will keep them satisfied and safe from symptom triggers.
Low FODMAP lunch items
When you think of a lunch box, you may picture a sandwich, fruit, and a drink. These things are still possible when it comes to packing a child’s lunch box, but some low FODMAP guidelines will have to be kept in mind. These include avoiding:
- High fructose corn syrup
- High FODMAP fruits like apples, mangoes, pears, peaches, cherries, and plums
- Wheat-based breads, crackers, or tortillas
- Processed foods that contain wheat or milk
- Dairy products that are not lactose-free
- Deli meats or other foods that contain garlic or onion
Some lunch items that are safe for low FODMAP lunch boxes include:
- Fruits such as an unripe medium banana, clementines, grapes, mandarin oranges, navel oranges, and strawberries.
- Vegetables like bell pepper, about a cup of raw broccoli, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato
- Gluten-free bread, crackers, or tortillas.
- Plant-based milks like almond milk or coconut milk, or lactose-free milk.
- Yogurts made from low FODMAP milk products.
- Cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, or Colby jack (no more than 2 ounces).
- Nuts and seeds like peanuts (32 pieces), macadamia nuts (20 pieces), pecans (10 halves), sunflower seeds (2 teaspoons, hulled), almonds (10 pieces), or walnuts (10 halves).
- Fresh meats and eggs
- Nut butters like almond butter (1 tablespoon) and peanut butter (2 tablespoons).
- Marmalade or jam (not made with high fructose corn syrup) (2 tablespoons).
Low FODMAP lunchbox ideas
Taking these foods into consideration, here are some ways you can combine these foods to create tasty lunch ideas for children.
- 2 slices gluten-free bread topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter as well as 1 tablespoon strawberry jam with no high fructose corn syrup or sugar alcohols.
- 2 slices gluten free bread topped with a few ounces of sliced fresh skinless chicken breast, a slice of cheddar cheese, and a teaspoon of mustard or mayonnaise (no molasses or high fructose corn syrup added).
- 2 slices gluten-free bread topped with tuna fish that was mixed with a bit of mayonnaise with no sugar added as well as some lettuce and/or tomato.
- 2 slices gluten-free bread, 1-2 slices cheddar cheese or vegan cheese, a bit of mustard, and some lettuce and/or sliced tomato.
- Baby carrots, sliced cucumber, or sliced bell peppers with homemade dairy-free dressing (plain almond milk yogurt mixed with low FODMAP seasonings like those from Casa de Sante)
- Mozzarella or cheddar cheese sticks
- Low FODMAP fruits like some grapes or sliced strawberries; for a more portable choice, you can choose clementines that are easy to peel for kids at lunch time
- Snack bars like low FODMAP cacao chip bars
- Plain corn tortilla chips with low FODMAP salsa
- A prepared thermos of low FODMAP soup like ZenGut tomato soup
Combine a sandwich option and few snacks for a delicious and fulfilling lunch that won’t trigger digestive symptoms. And for a drink, opt for juice boxes that do not contain any honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, or juice from any high FODMAP fruits like apples, peaches, or pears.
Take home message
Even though eating low FODMAP can be hard to help a child do, it’s not impossible. There are plenty of tasty low FODMAP foods that can be paired together to create a lunch kids will enjoy.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD