Low-Sucrose Snacks for Kids
Snacking isn’t just about satisfying hunger pangs — it’s also an important opportunity to fuel children’s bodies with good nutrition, particularly if they have a Sucrose Intolerance – also informally called “Sugar Intolerance” – caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) and haven’t been gaining weight or growing properly.
You just need to pick the right kinds of snacks, to keep their symptoms at bay.
In the early phases of a diagnosis of this rare condition, doctors usually recommend eliminating most sucrose (sugar) and starch from their diet.
After the initial period, you’ll slowly reintroduce foods one-by-one, to determine which ones produce symptoms and which ones are okay.
CSID Food Facts to Know First
Before you head to the store to stock up on low-sugar snacks, make sure you keep in mind how those snacks fit into your child’s full day of eating. Here’s the rundown.
Fruit and veggies: Young children generally need about 1½ cups of fruit and 2 to 3½ cups of vegetables each day to ensure they get the nutrients their growing bodies need.1, 2 Low-sucrose fruits include blueberries, grapes, prunes, strawberries, cherries, and avocados (technically they’re a fruit).
Vegetables in the low-sucrose category include broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, green beans, and peppers. For younger children, you may want to steam tough, chewy veggies like broccoli and cauliflower to soften them up.
Meat and poultry: Plain, unprocessed beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and eggs typically go down well with children who have CSID.
As with snacks, it’s okay to have salt and pepper for flavor, as well as butter and oils.
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, and cheese supply kids with protein and calcium; government guidelines suggest that young children consume 2 to 2 ½ cups of dairy foods each day.3
Since kids with Sucrose Intolerance can have a hard time gaining weight, go for whole-milk versions to add calories. Just stick with plain, unsweetened yogurt, and check food labels for the ingredients in processed cheeses or cheese products, because they may contain sucrose or starch fillers that your child needs to avoid.
Although milk and yogurt taste great on their own, they also can be blended with sugar-safe fruits and veggies to make nourishing smoothies and drinks; whipped into dips and served with fruit or veggie dunkers; or turned into spreads and marinades for plain, unprocessed meats, chicken, and poultry.
Nuts and nut butters: Assuming your child isn’t allergic to nuts, nuts and nut butters can be an important source of calories and nutrition for kids with CSID. Kids love peanuts, which are (happily) just fine. But because some nuts are higher in sucrose and starch, it’s best to stay away from them at first. Introduce them over time to make sure they agree with your child’s stomach.
Since bread isn’t always an option, dipping sliced pears into peanut butter or smoothing some on celery stalks is a great way to enjoy this protein-packed snack food.
Note that nuts may present a choking hazard for younger ones, specifically kids under the age of 4 years, so nut butters are the way to go.
Whole grains: Whole grains are known as complex carbohydrates, or carbs. They are made of long chains of sugar molecules.
They are a good source of energy and important nutrients. But your child may or may not tolerate whole-grain breads and cereals and other grains. It’s important to work closely with your child’s dietitian and healthcare team to see which of these foods may be an option and, if not or if too little, how to ensure your child is still getting the nutrients needed. Sometimes it’s hard for young ones to tolerate starches, but as they get older and their digestive system grows, it can get easier for them to enjoy foods with complex carbs.
Once you know which starches your kid handles best, pair them with fats and oils (such as butter or olive oil) and protein (such as meat or cheese) to slow digestion and minimize symptoms.
A small portion of a complex carb with a piece of unprocessed meat or cheese is a good snack for children with Sucrose Intolerance.
Tips for CSID Snacks On-the-Go
Your kids aren’t always going to be snacking by your side. So keep these tips in mind:
Pack snacks. Since it can be tricky to find low-sucrose snacks when you’re out and about, plan ahead. Take along a small bag or can of nuts if they appeal to your child.
If you want to take something perishable and you’ll be out for more than a couple of hours, keep it fresh with an ice pack or freezable bag.
Help your helpers. If your baby or young child is in daycare or with a babysitter or another childcare provider, it’s important to let them know which snack foods your child can eat. Best bet is to give them plenty of low-sucrose snacks.
For a daycare facility, mark your child’s snacks with a sticker or star, so they don’t get mixed up with another child’s. This works well at home, too, if you have other kids who don’t have CSID.
Add a dose of fun. Put snacks in colorful containers, and cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes to improve the chances that your younger child will enjoy eating them.
Also, let your child have a say in the choice of food containers as well as the snacks themselves. This can be very helpful for kids with a disease that imposes many restrictions, because it gives them a sense of control over their condition and can boost their self-esteem. It also provides more opportunities for them to learn what the smart food choices are.
Your CSID-Smart Snack List
Here are some snacks that are usually well tolerated by children with Sucrose Intolerance. Let them inspire ideas of your own.
TIP: When making dinners, always consider what foods you might include that can then become great snacks from leftovers.
- Mixed nuts with fresh mixed berries for a “trail mix”
- Turkey and spinach wrap (using lettuce leaves)
- Grapes with a stick of cheddar cheese or strips of chicken
- Deviled eggs made with plain Greek yogurt and fresh or dried chives
- Canned salmon with avocado slices (or a slice of turkey or provolone cheese instead of salmon)
- Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries or blackberries and fresh, chopped ginger for flavor
- Plain cottage cheese tossed with chopped red pepper or chopped pear and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- Canned salmon salad made with mashed avocado and olive oil along with some roasted zucchini chips
- Boiled egg with cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes or with a fruit such as grapes
- Leftover homemade meatballs served with sliced peppers
- Olives and fresh turkey roll-ups
- Celery stalks spread with peanut butter or almond butter
- Guacamole or mashed avocado sprinkled with lime and served with sliced cucumber and/or red and yellow peppers for dipping
- Sliced pear dipped in nut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon
- Sliced (raw) figs with a cheddar cheese slice or cheese stick
Note: It is important to check the food labels and monitor for symptoms as not all foods mentioned may be appropriate for every child.