Back-to-school season calls for IBS-friendly lunches!

Millions of students around the country have either returned to school or are on their way back soon. ‘Tis the season of lunchboxes, snacks and frantically rushing around to make something in the morning. If you or your child have IBS, the lunch provided at school may not be the right fit. Not to worry: here is a guide to help create an IBS-friendly lunch.

The low-FODMAP diet consists of eating less fermentable short-chain carbohydrates. Science tells us that the small intestines don’t absorb FODMAPs well and can increase the fluid and gas in the colon, resulting in painful IBS symptoms. Therefore, a lower intake of carbohydrates should decrease those indicators.

Don’t know what to pack for an IBS-friendly lunch? Try these two recipes!

Tuna sandwich with fruit cups and snack bars

Here at IBS Life, we’re bringing back tuna sandwiches – with a twist! This recipe is built with easily accessible low-FODMAP ingredients and is quick to make. No preparation or oven time is required. This recipe was created by Em Schwartz, a registered dietitian with IBS.

  • 1 can tuna packed in olive oil

  • 1-2 tablespoons Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

  • ¼ cup diced cucumber

  • 1 tablespoon green onion tops (green parts only!)

  • Two slices of sourdough bread

  • Optional: Kalamata olives, lettuce and tomatoes

  1. Mix the tuna, mayo, Djion, cucumber, olives, green onions in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Serve tuna mixture onto bread and add in tomato and lettuce if desired. Leftover tuna can be refrigerated in a sealed container for three days.

Pack in some fruits for a palate cleanser, such as kiwi or strawberries, and a sweet Fody Foods (lactose/gluten free and gut-friendly) snack bar for dessert.

Plant-based chicken nuggets with apple slices and sweet potato fries

Protein alternatives have been known to aid individuals who struggle to eat meats because of digestive effects. Beyond® and Impossible™ are two of the most popular brands of plant-based proteins, but there are many more brands out there with kid-friendly – and school lunch-friendly – alternatives to meat. These have grown in popularity and now can be found in most grocery stores. This lunch idea requires little effort besides warming up the oven and chopping an apple! Browse these recommendations below:

  • Daring. These “chicken” bites come in four different flavors and available for shipping. Choose from original, breaded, Cajun, lemon & herb.

  • Gardein. The brand has a comprehensive selection to choose from, including meals or soups, and staple items such as meatballs, fish filets, sliders, strips and more. This brand is more commonly found in major retailers.

Apple slices and sweet potato fries are both low on the fodmap scale. However, it’s recommended not to have no more than ½ cup (75 grams) of sweet potato fries because they still have short-chain carbohydrates that could trigger IBS symptoms. Grab your favorite frozen brand from the grocery store. Make sure to top it off with some Fody’s low FODMAP, no onion, no garlic and gluten-free ketchup.

Warm up an insulated container bottle by activating it with hot water, so those nuggets and fries are fresh! Sprinkle some lemon juice on the apple slices, so they don’t turn brown, and get ready to become the favorite parent. Chicken nuggets during school lunch gets all the kids (and even adults) excited!

Transitioning back to school can be tough, so settling into the routine of making lunches requires time. To help cut down on stress, try to schedule what lunches to make in advance. This can also help determine what groceries to get, how much to spend and the amount of food needed. For further inspiration, look to the FODMAPS, and be surprised how simple it can be to swipe out ingredients for IBS-friendly ones. Good luck with the start of school, and make sure to eat nutritious food for a productive year!