Packing a Low-Sucrose Lunch

Pack These Low-Sugar School Lunches That Your Child Will Enjoy (Really)

Help prevent Sugar Intolerance stomach trouble by sending kids off with a lunch their friends might envy (but no trading!).

Packing a Low-Sucrose Lunch

When you think lunchbox, you think sandwich, right? And, of course, as a loving parent you want to make it as healthy as possible.

But as a parent of a school-age child with Sucrose Intolerance – informally called “Sugar Intolerance” – caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), that otherwise healthy whole-grain bread could trigger painful and embarrassing stomach symptoms, such as diarrhea and gassy farts, while your kid is in the classroom.

Take a breath, and take a look here for top tips and tasty recipes for kids with Sugar Intolerance, a deficiency that means they have trouble digesting sugar.

Sucrase and isomaltase are two digestive chemicals, called enzymes. These enzymes are located in the gut, called the gastrointestinal tract. Without the full function of those enzymes, digesting certain types of sugars is difficult for kids who have CSID. That’s what causes their gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

The Facts on Food Groups

For the best nutrition, you’ll want to pack a variety of foods from different food groups to help ensure that your child gets the vitamins and minerals needed to grow and function properly.

The four primary food groups that should be included in your child’s lunchbox include fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy.

Each of these categories provides different nutrients, from protein to calcium to fiber to antioxidants; minerals (like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron); and vitamins (like folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and others).

Because no one food can possibly provide all these health benefits, you’ll want to include a variety of food sources when making lunches for children with Sucrose Intolerance.

Here’s what you need to know to read food labels and spot any harmful sugar.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables form the foundation of any healthy diet, and children with Sugar Intolerance should enjoy them routinely. Young children generally need about 1 ½ cups of fruit and 2 to 3 ½ cups of vegetables each day to ensure they are getting the nutrients their growing bodies need.1, 2 When you’re creating low-sucrose recipes for children, try to include at least one ½ cup serving of both fruits and vegetables to provide a variety of nutrients.

Meats, Chicken, and Poultry

Protein is important for growing bodies. Fortunately, there are a lot of sources of meaty protein that are just fine for children with CSID, including plain beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and lamb. “Plain” means no breading, sauces, and seasonings, though salt and pepper, butter and oils are okay. “Plain” also means no processed meats, which are typically cured with sucrose.

Dairy Foods

Definitely include dairy for your child who has trouble digesting sugar. Dairy is another good source of protein, as well as other nutrients your child needs. Plain, unsweetened milk and yogurt are good choices, as are most hard cheeses.

Don’t discount whole-fat versions of these foods. The extra calories are good for children with Sucrose Intolerance, because they are often at risk of poor weight gain.

Read food labels to make sure there are no additives or fillers that would make the food unsuitable and could trigger diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.

Lunchbox Essentials

These CSID-friendly school lunches require a bit more effort than the conventional sugar-rich peanut butter and jelly sandwich – definitely a no-no! – but this is for your child’s health and well-being.

Time-Saving Tip: Make large low-sucrose meals for dinner to have leftovers for the lunchbox. Think about foods that taste good cold.

We mean cold, not room temperature. That’s because these foods aren’t filled with all those preservatives that usually accompany sugar, so they can spoil within a couple of hours if left at room temperature.

Ask your school if they have refrigerated storage. If not, you’ll need to include an ice pack to make sure your little one’s food stays fresh and safe.

Consider treating your child to a fun new lunchbox to bring a bit of excitement to toting around a colorful “cooler.”

Creativity Counts

Now let’s look at how to bring these foods together to create a variety of delicious and nutritious lunches to help your child enjoy eating despite having Sucrose Intolerance.

Quick Tip: Let children get in on the lunch-planning action. Their involvement gives them a sense of control over what they eat and boosts their confidence in dealing with their CSID.

Feel free to explore your child’s favorite foods that are CSID-friendly. And while our examples show various foods to include in your child’s lunchbox, you can combine these types of foods any way you wish.

For instance, mix cottage cheese with fruits or veggies to take the flavor up a notch. You can pack it this way or encourage your child to “play” with his or her food at school.

Finally, while it’s not on this list, adding fats, such as nut butters with no sugar, nuts, and seeds, are a great way to accent foods with taste, texture, and nutrition.

Get creative and there is no limit to the number of recipes you can create.

Food Swap Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don't: Crackers
  • Do: Roasted zucchini chips
  • Don't: Packaged lunch meats
  • Do: Fresh, roasted chunks of chicken or turkey
  • Don't: Cookies
  • Do: Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Don't: Juice box
  • Do: Milk
  • Don't: Bread
  • Do: Bibb lettuce leaves for wraps

CSID-Friendly Lunch Ideas to Mix, Match, and Master

Note: Use Bibb lettuce for any of these ideas to make a wrap if your child prefers a “sandwich.”

  • Protein: Mini hamburger patties (no bun)
  • Vegetable: Celery
  • Fruit: Grapes
  • Dairy: Cheddar cheese slices on patties for cheeseburgers
  • Protein: Peanut butter
  • Vegetable: Celery stalks topped with or dipped into peanut butter
  • Fruit: Sliced pears
  • Dairy: Swiss cheese slice or cheese stick
  • Protein: Shredded, roasted chicken
  • Vegetable: Alfalfa sprouts with the chicken in a Bibb lettuce-leaf wrap
  • Fruit: Strawberries
  • Dairy: Cheddar cheese slice or cheese stick
  • Protein: Canned salmon
  • Vegetable: Sliced cucumber
  • Fruit: Raspberries
  • Dairy: Plain cottage cheese
  • Protein: Sliced, grilled chicken
  • Vegetable: Grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: Blueberries
  • Dairy: Mozzarella cheese slice or cheese stick
  • Protein: Boiled eggs
  • Vegetable: Leftover steamed green beans
  • Fruit: Sliced avocado
  • Dairy: Milk
  • Protein: Roasted, sliced turkey breast
  • Vegetable: Cauliflower
  • Fruit: Figs (raw)
  • Dairy: Provolone cheese slice or cheese stick
  • Protein: Roasted, sliced turkey breast
  • Vegetable: Red, yellow, and green peppers
  • Fruit: Mixed berries
  • Dairy: Munster cheese
  • Protein: Homemade turkey meatballs
  • Vegetable: Steamed spaghetti squash
  • Fruit: Cherries
  • Dairy: Mozzarella cheese slice or cheese stick
  • Protein: Cubed beef
  • Vegetable: Roasted zucchini coins
  • Fruit: Grapes
  • Dairy: Plain yogurt
  • Protein: Sliced flank steak
  • Vegetable: Steamed broccoli
  • Fruit: Strawberries
  • Dairy: Parmesan cheese (sprinkled over broccoli)
  • Protein: Sliced flank steak
  • Vegetable: Leftover grilled turnips with olive oil
  • Fruit: Pomegranate seeds
  • Dairy: Milk
  • Protein: Shredded pork shoulder
  • Vegetable: Radishes, cut in half
  • Fruit: Sliced pears
  • Dairy: Plain yogurt dip with cinnamon for flavoring
  • Protein: Cubed pork tenderloin
  • Vegetable: Slices of zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Fruit: Papaya chunks
  • Dairy: Plain yogurt with an herb or spice for veggie dip
  1. USDA. My Plate. Fruits. Accessed January 27, 2022.
  2. USDA. My Plate. Vegetables. Accessed January 27, 2022.

Sucrose Intolerance may be more common than you think.