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Recipes & Meal Ideas

The Cystic Fibrosis Diet: 10 High-Fat Snacks for Your Child

A Cystic Fibrosis (CF) diet needs to do one very important job: provide more calories than the average child might need. “Patients with CF require more calories than other patients. This is usually because of increased energy demands due to coughing, increased work of breathing related to the chest problems and repeated infections (as the body needs more calories to breathe and fight infections),” explain digestive experts with GIKids.org, established by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

In fact, toddlers with CF need 30 to 50 percent more calories than their non-CF peers; 1,300 to 1,900 total calories daily, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Children with cystic fibrosis also have a hard time digesting food and absorbing nutrients because they don’t produce the enzymes necessary to absorb fats, proteins and starch. To avoid malnutrition, children with CF often rely on pancreatic enzymes, which help their bodies absorb nutrients. Once absorbing nutrients, their diet needs to provide them with all the calories they need to grow and thrive.

The first step in doing so is making sure they’re eating frequently enough. The medical experts at Fairview Health Services suggest aiming for 3 meals a day plus 2 to 3 snacks. The second step is finding snacks that are packed with the nutrients they need, fat being the most important. Not only is fat higher in calories than the two other macronutrients—carbohydrates and protein—but it’s often packed with long-lasting protein as well.

They key is avoiding products or snacks wth with trans fat, which can increase airway inflammation, according to Fairview Health Services. That’s why, in many cases, it’s best to make your own. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our delicious snack ideas below.

Powerful Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is the perfect meal for long-lasting energy, and the recipe from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is ideal for kids with cystic fibrosis. The secret ingredient: heavy whipping cream. The best part is, there’s no added work; just prepare the oatmeal in a sauce pan or the microwave with the whipping cream and water, just like you normally would.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana Smoothie

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This smoothie is packed with healthy fats, thanks to three important ingredients: Milk (choose full fat), peanut butter and yogurt. With a banana added into the mix and Healthy Height’s chocolate shake mix, your kid will be getting all the nutrients they need, including vitamin A, calcium and protein too. The best part is, all you have to do is toss everything into the blender, serve and go. Use this for a snack if you’re heading out the door or need something quick and easy.

Trail Mix

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Trail mix is an ideal CF snack for so many reasons. Not only does it pack a huge caloric punch, thanks to fat and protein, but you can make it tailored to your child’s preferences. For example, you could do create a mix with nuts and seeds of choice, cinnamon, shredded coconut and a little vanilla. You could also make a savory mix with whole grain pretzels and dried cranberries.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

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Everyone wants cake for snack and this one is perfect for your child’s Cystic Fibrosis diet. With olive oil and yogurt, your little one will be able to indulge while getting the fat and calories they need to sustain throughout the day. Surprise them with a slice in their lunchbox to enjoy as dessert.

Broccoli Salad

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At first, this may not sound like a high-fat, high-calorie meal, but when you add bacon and walnuts into the mix, this salad because the perfect snack for a cystic fibrosis diet. Thanks to the broccoli, it’s also high in important nutrients like protein, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Guacamole

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This simple, classic dip is made with avocado, which is high in fat, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It can also be eaten with your child’s favorite dipper, whether that’s tortilla chips, carrots or even pretzels. If you want to add more calories, spread guacamole on whole grain bread and add a slice of tomato and turkey for a healthy, high-calorie snack.

Vanilla Cake Balls

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These fun little snacks taste like cake, so even the pickiest CF kids will love them. They’re also packed with fat and protein thanks to a few key ingredients: rolled oats, almond butter, unsweetened coconut shreds and Healthy Height’s vanilla shake mix. Prep these on Sunday and your little one can snack on them all week.

Spinach Dip

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This creamy recipe will have everyone in the house running back for more. The majority of the fat in this dip comes from sour cream and cheese, while healthy nutrients like iron, come from the spinach. This is the perfect snack for after school, where your little one can indulge while doing their homework or unwinding after a long day.

Creamy Grape Salad

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This recipe comes from the pros at CysticFibrosis.com, and it’s perfect for the “fussy CF eater” or a child with CF who has no appetite—because who can deny a creamy, sweet and savory salad? The base of this unique dish is red and green grapes, and the fat comes from cream cheese, sour cream and nuts.

Quinoa and Chia Seeds Toasted Granola Bars

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Granola bars are the perfect grab-and-go snack. They also provide the perfect blend of healthy fat—nuts, flaxseed and peanut butter—and sweet—chocolate chips and and raisins—making them ideal for every type of eater. Prep on Sunday and toss it into their backpack each day the following week.

Bonus: High-Fat Protein Shakes

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Protein shakes are a great way supplement nutrition for all kids. They’re especially helpful for children with cystic fibrosis. GIKids.org recommends supplementing meals with high calorie shakes, but first, you need to make sure you have all the right ingredients.

Start with your protein base. Protein powder is great for this, especially Healthy Height Shake Mix, which was developed and tested by pediatricians. It also contains 5 grams of fat: 0 grams trans fat and 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, along with 12 grams of protein. With 180 calories per serving size, this base is perfect.

From there, be sure to add vegetables and fruit at a 1:1 ratio to keep sugar in check. Next comes your healthy fat. A few delicious healthy fat options include:

  • Avocado
  • Yogurt
  • Shredded coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Fish oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds

After adding water and ice cubes, just blend and serve for a healthy and high-fat snack.

Mastering Your Child’s Cystic Fibrosis Diet

This is a hard diet to work with because you need a near-constant influx of calories to keep your child fueled, which is why high-fat snacks are the way to go. Keep these snack ideas at the ready, or start making a habit of prepping options like high-fat granola bars on Sundays, so you can stress less and keep your child’s cystic fibrosis diet in check.

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Healthy Height provides additional nutrition to support natural growth. Kids taking 2 servings a day and eating a well-balanced diet can see measurable growth in 6 months.
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