The Risks And Benefits Of Diy Blended Tube Feedings
Whole foods are the hallmark of a healthful diet not to mention a resounding message from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But the whole foods movement is manifesting in other areas of nutrition as well, including among many tube-feeding communities.
Many individuals who are unable to eat by mouth rely on commercial formulas and may not be aware of other options. But with proper guidance, gastrostomy-fed people can have the option of making their own formula using whole foods called blenderized feedings.
Vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes are packed with fiber and phytonutrients that are ideal for gut health. Many people who use blended feedings see a substantial improvement in their gastrointestinal function. When people switch from commercial formulas to blended feedings, we see less abdominal bloating, nausea, reflux and retching, improved stools, better GI tolerance and, in general, they feel better and have more energy, says Atlanta pediatric gastroenterologist Stanley Cohen, MD.
In the past 10 years, Houston pediatric dietitian Kristi King, MPH, RDN, LD, CNSC, says she has observed marked improvement in her patients GI symptoms when switching to whole-food feedings. Blended whole foods are trending in hospitals, either by using the hospitals own recipes or commercial whole-food formulas, because patients prefer it and usually tolerate it better than some other formulas, says King.
Who Should Consider Blenderized Tube Feeding
This decision is totally up to the family, and medical team. There is nothing wrong with using formula, and nothing wrong with using blended food for tube feeding. Weighing the pros and cons, thinking about your values and lifestyle, and discussing with your medical team are all important steps in the decision-making process.
In general, blenderized tube feedings should be reserved for those 1 year and older. As this is when infants normally are transitioned to primarily consuming foods.
Many people have expressed feeling pressure to do provide blenderized tube feeding 100% of the time. While this is understandable, its important to note that you can incorporate any amount of blended feeding tube meals as youd like.
Think about it, very few people cook every single thing they eat 24/7. Theres naturally a combination of prepared and scratch-cooked meals when we eat conventionally by mouth, so that should be accepted in tube feeding as well!
This is not all or nothing. Just another option.
Reasons For Making Your Own Blenderized Foods
There are many reasons to make your own food for use in a feeding tube. 1. Canned EN products are expensive and are usually not covered by insurance. Making blenderized foods at home can save money. 2. There is a lot of packaging waste with daily cans and boxes to dispose of, some of which may not be recyclable in your area. Making your own foods reduces unnecessary packaging waste. 3. Enjoy cooking and sharing meals with family again. Preparing meals together which can be shared together can bring joy back to mealtimes.4. Improved bowel regularity. The fiber and micronutrients found in freshly prepared homemade foods are good for overall gut health.5. Reports and research found that tube-fed children tolerate blenderized foods better than standard EN formulas.
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Talking To Your Doctor
In most cases, you have these between meals and carry on with your normal diet as well. You will boost your nutritional intake if you drink between 2 and 3 cartons a day.
Do not take more than your doctor or dietitian recommends. The drinks contain vitamins that could be harmful in large amounts. Tell your doctor, dietitian or pharmacist if you are taking any vitamin supplements.
You may need to avoid taking certain medicines soon after or before having the drinks. The drink may change how much you absorb the medicine. Ask your pharmacist or dietitian about when to take your medicines and when to have the drinks.
United Healthcare Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Cigna And Aetna
The insurance providers listed above are large companies that offer private insurance plans , but some also manage select public insurance plans like Medicare and Medicaid. Because their offerings vary so widely, the best way to determine your plan type and coverage eligibility for formula is to contact them by following the steps below under How to find out your coverage.
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Feeding Tube Nutrition: Making Your Own Blenderized Foods
For people who rely on a feeding tube, meals usually come in the form of standard canned enteral nutrition products. But these pre-formulated products can be expensive contain allergens like corn, milk, and soy and are full of unhealthy ingredients like corn syrup, maltodextrin, and sugar. Improve feeding tube nutrition by making your own blenderized foods.With todays high-performance blenders, the foods that most people eat every day can be turned into meals that work for use in a feeding tube the result is known as home enteral nutrition .
Opportunities And Challenges With Blenderized Feedings
Several pros and cons to BTF are outlined in Table Table1.1. Feasibly the biggest challenges for preparing a blended diet are cost and time. Manufacturers have responded to these challenges by developing whole-foods-based commercial products such as Kate Farms, Real Food Blends, Compleat Pediatric, and Liquid Hope . Major companies, such as Nestle and Abbott Nutrition, have even released their own blended enteral formula products in 2018 such as Compleat Organic Blends and Pediasure Harvest, respectively . For some, these may be viable alternatives, but for others, risk of vitamin or mineral toxicity is present depending on patient age. Furthermore, documentation of standard formula intolerance or allergy should be provided to obtain insurance coverage .
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Recipe : Coconut Milk Bananas Amaranth
This recipe doesnt contain vegetables, but it was one of my go-tos when we were desperate for my son to gain weight. Amaranth is an ancient grain that packs a surprising caloric punch! You can easily adjust this recipe to include some vegetables , or add more protein with cows milk if your tubie can handle dairy.
1 can coconut milk1 cup dry amaranth, cooked and cooled
Each 8-10 ounce feeding contains approximately 346 calories, 17 g fat, and 7 g protein.
For 21 tips about the g-tube blended diet, see this post.
*Each individual may have different needs when it comes to volume. Our son was used to 8-ounce feedings of formula, so we transitioned to 8-ounce feedings with whole food blends that were comparable in caloric content. I suggest starting slowly and working your way up. Consult your doctor as well.
How To Make Blenderized Foods
High-speed and commercial-quality blenders such as the impressive Cleanblend Smoothie and Soup Blender work best. Break or cut larger pieces of food into chunks along with enough liquid to create a smooth texture. If there are any small chunks or seeds, you can strain the final mixture. Any foods with strings, seeds, or thick skins may potentially clog the tube. If mixture is too thick to easily pass through the tube, it can be thinned further with water, broth, or juice.Be sure to follow standard food safety procedures, especially with those who are immune-compromised. Wash hands before preparation. Clean any fresh fruits and vegetables to remove any soil or contaminants. Store any unused blended foods immediately in the refrigerator. Clean all syringes and tubes thoroughly after use.
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Other Private Insurance Companies
Most private insurers do consider coverage for medical nutrition. Coverage eligibility for formula for drinking and tube feeding will vary depending on the type of insurance . The best way to determine your plans coverage is to contact the insurance company by follow the steps below under How to find out your coverage.
Storing Homemade Baby Food:
I always puree enough fruits/vegetables to make 2 large baby food pouches. Any more and I risk the food going to waste because Elliot doesn’t finish it within 2-3 days.
I use these reusable pouches from ChooMee to store the homemade baby food in the fridge and I absolutely love them. They are easy to wash with the same bottle brushes that I use to wash Elliot’s bottles.
The reason I use pouches instead of containers is that the baby food stays fresh in the pouches for longer since it’s exposed to less air. Reusable pouches are perfect for baby food that contains bananas, pears, and apples – fruits that turn brown when exposed to air.
These pouches hold 5 oz of baby food – a bit more than store-bought food. At first, 5 oz was too much for Elliot, but now that he is a year and six months I can easily give him 5 oz of food at a time.
I also love using pouches because when Elliot decides to suck on the pouch he ends up eating more food faster. Usually he still prefers to be fed with a spoon and refuses to suck on the pouch, but the times that he does point to the pouch and open his mouth make for a really easy feeding. And I’ll take any help I can get!!
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Protein And Energy Supplements
These products are powders or liquids. They contain either energy or protein with a small amount of energy. You can add them to many different foods and drinks. They are not nutritionally balanced and not suitable as a meal replacement. But they are helpful to boost either energy or protein levels.
When taking these products, you should still eat and drink normally if possible. These products can be expensive, so your doctor should prescribe them if you need them.
How To Make High Calorie Baby Food
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See my disclosure.
I’ve been making homemade pureed high calorie baby food for almost two years for my extremely picky eater son to supplement his diet and make sure he gets the nutrition and calories he needs. Let me share my baby food recipe and tips with you!
As always, please work with your doctor to determine what’s best for your baby instead of solely relying on information you find online. I am not a nutritionist or a pediatrician, I’m just a mom sharing my experiences in the hopes of helping others.
If this is your first time here, you can read more about our story. But long story short, my son Elliot was not interested in table foods and for a while the only food we could get him to eat was pureed baby food. Baby food was also the only way we can get nutritious fruits and vegetables into him for the longest time.
Elliot has been struggling to stay on the growth chart , so I’ve had to make sure that every bite of food he eats has as much nutrition and calories as possible.
I’ve been making homemade high-calorie baby food ever since Elliot started eating pureed baby food. Even now that he is a toddler, I still make these pouches for him daily to make sure he gets lots of nutrients from different fruits, veggies, nuts, and healthy proteins that he otherwise doesn’t eat on his own.
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Is A Blenderized Diet Right For Your Child
There are many factors to consider when deciding if a blenderized diet is the right choice for your CP child.
- Diet can be customized for taste and nutritional need
- May be more cost effective then commercial formulas
- May be better tolerated then commercial formulas
- Can be customized to include a food group rich in any nutrients found lacking
- May not provide all vitamin, mineral, fiber, hydration and caloric needs
- Can clog tubes
- Requires close monitoring and supervision by a dietician or nutritionist
- More time consuming than commercial diets
Tips For A Homemade Tube Feeding Formula:
1. Start slowly
Commercial formulas are specifically designed to provide you with all the nutrients your body needs. A slow transition is important when making your own formulas to ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs.
2. Work with a dietitian
Working with a Registered Dietitian will allow you to have leverage over taste preference while ensuring youre receiving the proper nutritional and caloric requirements for your body.
Navigating the process of making your own tube feeding formula can feel like a big responsibility but your dietitian can answer your questions and make the process less daunting.
3. Invest in a high-quality blender
While you definitely can use a cheap blender for a blenderized formula diet, investing in a high-quality blender can save you time and will last longer than a cheaper alternative.
By using a high-quality blender, you wont have to strain the puree, which is good since training can cause you to lose some valuable fiber. Heres one of our favorites: Ninja Blender.
Some high-quality blender brands, such as Vitamix, offer discounts to individuals and families who can prove that they use their blender for medical reasons. If youre interested in finding out if youre eligible for a discount on a Vitamix High Performance blender, visit this page for more information.
4. Dont let yourself become overwhelmed
Remember, your Registered Dietitian is there to help you every step of the way!
5. Canned fruits and veggies are more affordable
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Questions To Ask Your Insurance Provider
Here are a few questions to ask to help you understand your coverage. Note: insurance companies will refer to formula by the term enteral nutrition,meaning nutrition that goes through the GI tract and is taken by mouth or feeding tube. This will help them differentiate from a benefit you may have for total parenteral nutrition, which is the term for nutrition that bypasses the GI tract completely and is administered by an IV. We recommend using the term enteral nutrition to help keep you and the representative on the same page.
Does my policy cover nutrition?
Why this matters:Unfortunately, some insurance policies and companies do not cover nutrition at all. If this is the case, and you will have difficulty affording our formula, contact us and we may be able to help.
If formula will make up part, but not all of your diet, ask does my policy cover enteral nutrition for supplemental nutrition?
Why this matters:Some plans provide coverage when a formula is your only source of nutrition, or sole-source nutrition, but will not cover if its going to be a supplement to solid food.Ask your insurance company if your policy will provide coverage if formula will make up less than 100% of your daily calories.
If you will be drinking formula, askdoes my policy cover enteral nutrition if Im drinking it?
What percent of the total prescribed enteral nutrition cost will my policy cover?
Do I need prior authorization and how do I get it?
Requesting Samples For Yourself Or Someone You Care For
We currently require that sample requests are made by healthcare providers or home medical suppliers on behalf of patients. Please ask your healthcare provider or home medical supplier to request samples for you and direct them to katefarms.com/samples.
If you would like to purchase our formula to try, you can buy formula online through the Kate Farms shop.
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Why I Make Homemade Baby Food:
- There isn’t much variety in baby food available where we live , and none of it comes in convenient pouches
- I like to cook and make our meals from scratch, so why not do the same for my son?
- I want my son to get a variety of nutrients from different fruits, vegetables, nuts, and proteins
- I love using my blender
- I want my son to eat the freshest foods possible
- Homemade baby food is much more affordable than store-bought
- Homemade pureed food is a great way to supplement an older baby’s or a toddler’s diet and can be a great help for picky eaters. I add fruits, vegetables, beans, and nut butters that my son doesn’t like to eat on their own.
and the biggest reason of all that I make homemade baby food:
- Elliot needs more calories than store-bought baby food contains
It was always a challenge getting Elliot to eat a whole meal in one sitting, so we needed to feed him the best calorie dense foods for babies.
So I made baby food by pureeing fruits and vegetables in my beloved Blendtec blender.
The homemade baby food I make has about twice the calories of store-bought baby food spoon-for-spoon. Most store-bought containers and pouches have about 50-100 calories. The baby food that I make typically has 125 – 200 calories per pouch.
Made With Love Loved By Thousands
Kate Farms immediately helped with my energy levels. After switching formulas, I havent had any ear or sinus infections, and my skin stopped peeling. Its because Im not on a fake, engineered diet anymore. The ingredients are natural.
Your drinks have been a literal lifesaver for my daughter with her gastrointestinal condition. Since her gallbladder surgery, she is only able to tolerate your brand of meal replacement drinks. Kate Farms has saved my daughter from being hospitalized for too much weight loss. Thank you!
I have only been using Kate Farms for a short time, but I have already noticed a marked improvement in my weight gain. It has also given me and additional benefit of increasing my appetite, which my daily meds has significantly reduced. Fantastic product!
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Important Things To Know About Blended Diets
- You need to understand your childs hydration needs. Blended foods will contain less overall water than formulas. It is necessary to include more water in your childs diet compared to formula. Many people find that doing a water bolus about 30 minutes prior to a meal will prepare the stomach so that it is more easily tolerated.
- You may need to increase calories in your childs diet. It is pretty common for children to have more regular bowel movements with blended foods. Many people find that their child requires extra calories in order to maintain and gain weight.
- If you are feeding a blended diet using a feeding pump, the flow rates may be a bit slower than when you are using formula. It is a good idea to do a test to see how accurate the flow rate is so you can adjust rates accordingly. Run the pump into an empty measuring container for 30 minutes to an hour and see how the volume pumped compares to the rate.