Family, Food

Dietary Restrictions and Summer Camp-How I Packed For 4 Days at Camp

Disclaimer:  I am not a trained nutritionist or dietician.  The following information is based off of my own personal research and dietary information provided to me by our Naturopathic Doctor’s office.  This post may include affiliate links.

Our oldest son LOVES summer bible camp.  When we were discussing potential summer activities he could be a part of, he asked ‘Wait, is that during camp?  Because I am going to Camp Joy again!’  Summer bible camp was his main focus, and as his mom, it warmed my heart!  But as his mom who also is in charge of all his foods and dietary restrictions and making sure he isn’t eating something he shouldn’t, it also brought up some questions and worry.  I knew the camp meal menu wouldn’t account for his crazy dietary restrictions, but did camp have the means of letting me pack food for him for 4 days and storing it properly?  Was their fridge that large?  Would they allow homemade foods to be sent?  Would I need his doctor to write a note?  There were a lot of questions I had before signing him up, but as determined as he was to go, I was willing to jump through hoops to get him there if I needed to.

K happy to be at camp!!!

I am fortunate that I have become friends with the owners of the camp through our church and women’s group, so I reached out to her to ask if they’d have room for his food in their fridge.  She said their menu wouldn’t meet his needs, but that they have enough room in their large walk-in fridge for us to bring his own food for his time at camp.

My sons dietary restrictions are dairy-free (dairy protein, not just lactose), as well as no mixing fruit sugars with refined/cane sugars.  He also has supplements he takes daily, and we use essential oils or otc meds for his seasonal allergies.  After visiting with the camp owner, I was told what was on their menu for the week and how many meals I needed.  I also knew to include drinks and canteen options.

Here’s what I did and how I did it.

First I started out with a list of foods I knew he liked and would eat.  Then I broke it down by eliminating what things weren’t exactly camp friendly.  I chose not to send anything frozen, and nothing with an extremely short shelf life.  Then I looked at the list and decided which sugar I’d send him with for the week.  I figured sending only one sugar group would be easiest for everyone.  I made my list, and went over it with him to see what he thought since he is the one eating it after all.  After a few negotiations and tweaks to the menu, I hit the grocery store two days before camp, because if your kids are anything like mine, buying it before then would mean that it would probably be eaten when I needed it!

Here’s what we came up with for his menu for the 4 days of camp:

Sugar-Neutral Honey Bread with Jam (without the jam, the bread is dairy-free and sugar-neutral.  See the recipe on our blog!)
Hard-Boiled Eggs

Lunches:  (Aren’t these containers awesome! They are perfect for lunches on the go.  You can get them here!)
Smoked Turkey Breast with Pickles and Spinach on a Tortilla (sugar and dairy-free tortillas-we make our own)

Chicken Tenderloins (already baked with sunflower oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper)
Sugar Snap Peas

Arizona Half&Half Iced Tea & Lemonade
Mamma Chia

Popcorn (popped in butter flavored oil and seasoned with sea salt)
Fruit/Nut Bars
Fruit Leather

You can definitely tweak the menu as needed, and you can easily make it refined/cane sugar based instead of fruit sugar based.  In fact, after I made his bread for breakfasts and included the eggs, his lunches with smoked turkey and sugar free tortillas, chose cantaloupe as the side, and popped the popcorn with butter flavored oil instead of coconut oil, I realized that his meals were actually sugar neutral!

Some are probably wondering how I am considering cantaloupe (a fruit!) to be sugar neutral.  According to our Naturopathic Doctor, melons are sugar neutral (as long as they are in season).  They don’t count as fruit sugar!  Lucky for me, my son loves cantaloupe and watermelon.

All prepped and ready to be packed for camp

Once I realized the meals were sugar neutral, I decided to include the fruit sugar drinks.  I found this Arizona Half&Half Iced Tea and Lemonade at Sam’s Club the other day, and according to the ingredients listed, it doesn’t contain refined/cane sugars, only fruit sugars.  If separating the sugars is a factor for you, be sure to purchase the liquid drink, not the powdered mix.  From what I could see, the powdered mixes had both sugar types in it, therefore it didn’t work for my son.  I did find it on Amazon as well; you can click here to find the liquid drink.  The other drink I included was the last Mamma Chia drink I had at home.  These are one of my sons favorite drinks.  Amazingly, they aren’t terrible for you, with only 25g fruit sugar and of course chia seeds, which are so good for you.  I find them at our local Walmart and coupons for them on their website.  My son doesn’t care for Almond Milk or Coconut Milk, but you could easily include those as drink options if you are choosing to include fruit sugar items.

I did play around with the idea of adding things that contained refined/cane sugar instead of the fruit sugar items.  For breakfast, I was going to add peanut butter for his toast.  (Be careful with peanut butter because most contain refined/cane sugar only, but how the peanuts are processed may make them tainted with ingredients that are considered fruit sugars.)  For his suppers I was going to include some Organic Ketchup for dunking his chicken in.  But I didn’t have anything at home that would have really fit into his canteen options, and his drink all week would have been just water.  So I decided to go the fruit sugar route instead.

If you have a child who has the same dietary restrictions as my son, I hope this post helps you to pack for a weekend away, or even just for meal ideas.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of the options I’ve included and I’m happy to share my knowledge.  I am not professionally trained as a nutritionist or dietician.  I have however done a bunch of research, asked many questions of medical professionals, and am a mom on a mission to help her son.
Disclaimer:  I am not a professionally trained nutritionist or dietician.  The following information is based off of my own personal research and dietary information provided to me by our Naturopathic Doctor’s office. 


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