DIY Blenderized Diets for Tube Feeding
By Lee Vander Loop
CP Family Network Editor
Some children with severe cerebral palsy have feeding disorders which require tube feeding. Children who are unable to fulfill their nutritional needs using traditional feeding methods, those with oral motor skill dysfunction or children at risk for aspiration are typically candidates for tube feeding.
Often, doctors prescribe a commercial feeding tube diet, called an enteral formula, which has been specifically designed to meet a child’s nutritional requirements. However, parents still have the option to create their own blenderized diets with their doctor’s blessing. After all, homemade blenderized diets were the original tube feeding meals before the introduction of commercial formulas.
Any child with a feeding tube should be followed closely by a nutritionist, regardless of whether they’re on enteral feedings, blenderized diets or any other type of tube feeding regiment. Some parents may prefer a blended diet for their child, but are intimidated with the demands of researching calories, volume and nutritional content of a blended diet. It sounds like a daunting task, but many parents have developed their own easy, time saving techniques!
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
We’ve identified a few resources and recipes that parents can refer to when selecting the best blended diet for their child. One site is the Blended Food Resource Group at www.foodfortubies.com. This group provides tube-fed individuals with information, education and support regarding alternatives to commercial formula when medically appropriate. In addition to their list of recipe suggestions and sample recipes, they highlight:
Pros and cons of a blended diet
- Important information to get started
- Blenders recommendations
- Tips to avoid clogs and guidelines for clog removal
Their forum offers a treasure trove of recipes and guidelines. I was especially impressed with this site when I noted that their sample recipes and forum recipes all provided exact caloric values of each ingredient.
One important factor I found mentioned over and over was the need for a high-speed mixer such as Vitamix, Blendtec or other blender capable of pureeing whole foods.
In the Ainsley Rae’s Blenderized Diet blog, a mom details important tips about how to use a variety of blenders and mixers, and provides guidelines for creating an Excel spreadsheet to accurately record your child’s diet and calories so that they can be reviewed by a nutritionist.
1cup whole milk
1 2oz container stage 1 fruit
2 TBSP molasses
1/2 cup baby oatmeal with probiotics and dha
1 heaping spoon of greek yogurt
This makes about 375mls and appx 465cals… (1.2cals/ml)
The breakdown appx is 15g fat, 53g carbs and 12g protein.
Fruit Based Blend
1 tin banana & mango baby puree tin – 90cals
2oz avocado – 90 cals
2 T. cooked quinoa – ~50cals
1/2 t. probiotics
20mls yoghurt – ~20cals
2 t. olive oil 80 cals
2 T. baby rice cereal – 40cals
70mls rice milk – 46cals
+/- 2t. Agave syrup – 31 cals
Total 447 cals, 95%=425cals, therefore over 300mls = ~1.4cals/ml
1st Blender Meal
3oz of tofu–70calories
1 cup cheerios–150calories
1 cup whole milk–150calories
3tsp milk fortifier (dari-free)–70calories
2Tbsp flax oil–240calories
Total calories = 1125
Complete Tubefeeding: Everything you need to know about tubefeeding, tube nutrition, and blended diets
Blog: Mom backs real blended food for tube-fed tot
Blog: Mom blogs about her success with Blenderized Formula @ Homemade Blenderized Formula for G-Tube