Tube feeding is a method of providing the body with nutrition and nourishment; over 250,000 people rely on tube feeding within a hospital setting on a yearly basis. That number nearly doubles when looking at individuals who tube feeding within the comfort of their own home.1 When making the transition from a hospital setting to home, many questions can arise. It is typical to meet with a registered dietitian or healthcare practitioner to familiarize yourself with tube feeding, address questions and specific customizations which may be required depending on dietary needs or feeding methods. Your dietitian should also educate on fluid intake, serving sizes and proper food handling when tube feeding. It is essential for the patient (or caregiver) to understand how to troubleshoot if an issue arises.
Is a blenderized diet for everyone?
Registered Dietitian: When deciding to use a blenderized diet over a formula you should speak with your doctor or nutrition professional to make sure it is a good fit. A blenderized diet can be contraindicated depending on some medical conditions, type of feeding tube, intolerances or allergies. In general, a blenderized diet is safe for children over 12 months of age as this is when they can start to introduce solid foods into the diet.
How can I create a meal with blenderized foods?
Registered Dietitian: Meal size and caloric density depends on the timing and amount of meals through the day. Including a serving from all of the food groups is the general recommendation; unless there are specific restrictions or modifications necessary such as a low-fat or low-carbohydrate intake requirement. When meal planning it is important to include the colors of the rainbow. The main food groups include: protein, grain, vegetable, dairy (or dairy alternative), fat and fruit. Meal planning and preparing foods together in the kitchen can be a fun way to spark creativity and create a meal which you and your entire family can enjoy.
Can I prepare my own blend to feed myself through my tube?
Registered Dietitian: Yes! One of the main advantages of blenderized foods is the flexibility, customization and variety. Pre-made blended foods are available and include whole food ingredients with no artificial flavoring or preservatives. However, blended foods can also be made in the comfort of your own kitchen and completely customizable depending on your preference, allergies or intolerances. For example, for some children dairy-based formula can be difficult to digest or cause unwanted symptoms; dairy can easily be omitted in a blenderized recipe made at home.
When deciding to create your blend, it is essential to have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix® to ensure that foods are liquified fully or use a fine mesh strainer to reduce the risk of clogs. Straining can always be done for extra precaution even when using a high-speed blender.
How do hydration needs change when making the transition to blended foods?
Registered Dietitian: When deciding to switch or include blenderized foods into the diet there are a few things which should be noted or taken into account. It is important to stay properly hydrated; it is common that blended foods have less water when compared to formulas. Flushing, which is important to do between meals, will increase water intake for those on a blended diet. Monitoring fluid intake along with checking the color of urine regularly should be measured daily to ensure proper hydration needs are being met. Signs of dehydration include dark-yellow strong-smelling urine, lethargy, and dry mouth.
How do I know if the flow rate is too fast or too slow?
Registered Dietitian: Typically, when using a blended diet the flow rates are slower when compared to a formula. This is due to the consistency and texture of the blend. When beginning a blenderized diet, it is recommended to slowly transition and listen to your body in regards to how fast to go as well as speaking to your healthcare team. Pre-made blends such as Kitchen Blends are already at the desired consistency for tube feeding; when using a homemade blend, more water or liquid may be necessary.