When Sadie first got her G-tube, we were encouraged to put her on a formula diet. The doctor told us that this formula provided her with "complete nutrition" so it would be guaranteed that she got what she needed. However, I never felt right about about the ingredients that were in the formula... it may have been complete nutrition, but it was nutrition made from chemicals. We're not huge fans of chemicals or over-processed food, so we started looking at other options.
I eventually came across the Blenderized Food for Tubies Facebook page. It was full of people who, like me, believed that the formula provided by doctors and medical supply companies was not the best thing they could be giving their bodies (or their children). It is an open group and proved to be a great place to ask questions and get support.
Through the Facebook page, I also found Aadhaar O'Gorman's blog. He is an adult living with a G-tube, and he doesn't live off of formula, he provides himself with complete nutrition with the help of a blender. On the right side of the blog, he has some pages for beginners, reading some of these helped give me confidence to start blending food for Sadie. I recommend that if you're starting out, you look here.
He also recently wrote a book called Complete Tubefeeding, which is full of resources and helpful tips, as well as reasons why a blenderized diet for tubefeeding is beneficial and more healthy than formula, and still provides "complete nutrition." After all, isn't that what the doctor is most concerned about?
We didn't have a super fancy blender at first, so we were limited as to what we could give her, but basic fruits, yogurt, cooked vegetables, etc. worked just fine. And we supplemented with formula when we needed to. This seemed to be working well. I had made Sadie's purees when she was eating more by mouth, so I had an idea of how to do this already (just add more water or milk than if you're pureeing), and while we were experimenting with all of this, I used my Button Beauties business to save up money to buy a Vitamix blender.
The Vitamix is rated safe for tube feeding, and it will pulverize ANYTHING; raspberries, flax seeds, etc. Really, anything. But it's expensive. However, after doing some research, we learned that Vitamix has a program to help those with a medical necessity purchase a refurbished Vitamix to help with tube feeding. Vitamix also has a program where, upon providing proof of financial need, they will provide you with a blender for free. (Blend Tec also has a similar program) If you are interested in Vitamix's program, you can call 800-848-2649 xt. 2501 for more information. (You will be required to at least provide a letter from your doctor stating medical necessity to qualify for the program)
We got our Vitamix in February of 2012 and we've never looked back. Anything that we might feed a normal toddler, we blend up and put in Sadie's tube. The other night we put some Cheerios, milk, and strawberries in the blender! Any leftovers from our own dinner, we throw in the blender and give Sadie in the morning. For our stay at Ryan House, we blended ahead of time and froze in gallon-size ziploc bags and took with us. In fact, I recommend keeping some blended food in the freezer for emergency hospital stays or any other situation that might come up.
Sadie now only gets one tube feeding a day, but we've noticed she can handle much more volume when given real food, as opposed to formula, she mostly eats purees by mouth. However, we use the Vitamix to also make her purees. Oh, and we make smoothies for ourselves too!!
If you're interested in more information about starting a blenderized diet for your tubie, please visit the resources below, or feel free to contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org. This was one of the best decisions we've made for Sadie and I would love to help you get started feeding your tubie real blended foods also!!
Blenderized Food for Tubies Facebook Page
Aadhaar O'Gorman's blog: You start with a tube...
Complete Tubefeeding Book
800-848-2649 xt 2501
Mrs. Beck's Button Beauties
Ever wonder how to travel with your tubie and continue your blenderized diet? Read my post here about traveling with blenderized food!!