Making Your Own Food for Tube Feeding

Roslyn Dahl

Over the years we’ve had several members ask about making their own food for tube feeding. The idea is to put a home-cooked meal through the blender, strain it, and then ingest it through the tube. There are advantages to “blenderized” food, but also some serious disadvantages, so be sure to speak with your physician and a dietitian before going down this road. Most nutritionists agree that if you are going to try this option, it is safest to get most of your calories by commercial formula to ensure proper nutrition, and then supplement with blenderized food.

The Pros

Blenderized food will likely be much cheaper than formula—unless you are purchasing special nutrition mixes, vitamins, and so on. Consumers and caregivers report that blenderized food is more appealing than commercial formula. Consumers say they can taste real food again through smelling (and burping). This ‘tasting’ is especially beneficial if you are planning to introduce table food to a child that has never eaten before. Last, but not least, blenderized food allows you the joy of cooking your own food again.

The Cons

Blenderized food may not provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, hydration, and calories you need. It is difficult to formulate a well-rounded, calorie-dense diet that can get through your tube. Of equal concern, blenderized food may clog your tube. This is serious business and may result in the premature need to change a tube. Further, making your own food can be inconvenient, and longer feeding schedules may be required to get the same amount of calories in, because blenderized food is unlikely to be as calorie-dense as commercial formula.

Some Tips

You are more likely to tolerate blenderized food if your intestines aren’t compromised. In other words, if you are on tube feeding because of an upper GI issue (like inability to swallow), you are more likely to be successful with blenderized food than someone who has an intestinal motility disorder or malabsorption issue. Another important factor is the diameter of your tube: some g-tubes and most j-tubes are too narrow to be practical for blenderized food feedings. Straining the food first can help with this problem.

If you decide to make food for yourself, you need to choose ingredients carefully to ensure nutritional balance and smooth passage through the tube. Do not mix medications into blenderized food, and be sure to flush well when you are finished putting food through the tube. A consultation with your dietitian/physician is a must, and a discussion with an experienced consumer will likely be helpful (see list). More information is available in the Homemade Blended Formula Handbook, Complete Tube Feeding, or at www.lucysrealfood.com.

Two industrial-strength blenders recommended by consumers for making blenderized food are:

1. The Vita-Mix 5000 made by the Vita-Mix Corporation (www.vitamix.com / 800-848-2649 / household@vitamix.com). A new model costs $399 and has a seven-year warranty. The company has a special purchase plan ($275 plus tax) if you are using the blender for medical reasons; contact householdsales@vitamix.com or ask for household sales when you call. The Web site has a section in Español for those who need it.

2. The Blendtec HP3 blender or the Total Blender by Blendtec (www.blendtec.com / 800-253-6383). Both models cost $399.95, have with a more powerful motor than the Vita-Mix and programmable mix cycles, and come with a 3-year warranty.

3. A third blender that is lighter and therefore may be easier for traveling is the My Blend by Oster.

Experienced Oley members you can contact:

Lesley Marino ninabean@tampabay.rr.com 727-644-1683
Sonia Blue soniablue@sbcglobal.net  831-277-8507
Steve Welch stevewelch47@gmail.com

Lesley mentioned that one way to communicate with professionals and families who are learning about blenderized diet via a feeding tube is to subscribe to the Blenderized Diet Yahoo Group by e-mailing Blenderized-Diet-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


How To Blend

Long in the works, the Homemade Blended Formula Handbook, by Marsha Dunn Klein MEd., OTR/L, and Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD, CCC-SLP, is now available. The book is designed as a reference and how-to for parents and professionals interested in learning about a homemade blended diet for tube feeding. The book includes 35 reproducible chapters and 16 food reference charts. In addition to the authors, contributors include several parents of children who are fed by tube; Sanford Newmark, MD; Ellen Duperret, RD; and Jude Trautlein, RD.

The book is available for $39.95 plus shipping and handling at www.mealtimenotions.com/HomemadeBlendedFormulaHandbook.htm