Healthy Tube feeding with Real Food
If someone you love needs nourishment via tube feeding, or if you know someone who does, you'll want to read today's guest post by Julie, another mom warrior who didn't blindly follow her doctor or the medical establishment after her son, AJ, was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. She instead took matters into her own hands. As a matter of fact, you never know where life will lead, so you'll want to know about this life-saving information even if you don't need it right at this moment. (And this is also an important topic to be aware of if you're formula feeding a baby – there's more on that below, or click here for where to find the WAPF real food baby formula kit.)
Here was my first email from Julie about healthy tube feeding… (And isn't AJ so stinkin' cute?!)
As a real food advocate, can you imagine being PRESCRIBED a diet that amounts to 50% corn syrup? That's what happened to my son — and thousands of other sick people every day. It would happen to you, too, if you were to end up with a feeding tube.
A few facts:
1- Tube feeding formula is a $3 billion industry in the U.S., dominated by Abbott, Nestle and Mead Johnson.
2- Every tube-feeding formula on the market today contains at least 50% corn syrup or corn by-products…and genetically modified corn at that.
3- People who blend real food at home for tube-feeding have been largely shunned by the medical community, even kicked out of the school lunchroom because of this ‘unsafe' practice of putting real food into a stomach!
Please watch our short video about my son's story (below), how Real Food Blends was born to give people on feeding tubes easy access to real food, and consider sharing with your legions of fans. $5 will buy a Real Food Blends meal for a hospitalized tube-fed child at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.”
I asked Julie to tell us more of her story:
This is a photo of what my two-year-old ate one day. Bone broth, chicken, kale, carrots, mango, quinoa, coconut oil. All pureed and given to him through the feeding tube that he has had for almost two years.
He didn’t always get real food through his feeding tube. When he first received his tube, we followed doctors orders to pump him full of formula. We hooked him up to his feeding pump anywhere from 6-8 times a day, and often overnight, trying to get him the amount of prescribed calories. He was miserable. Our family was miserable.
Seeking answers, I found a group of tube-fed people and caregivers that had this radical idea: Put real food through the feeding tube. It was truly a lightbulb moment. Within days of starting to add real food to AJ’s tube feedings, his color perked up (imagine what you would look like only living off white food), he stopped vomiting daily, his reflux improved, and he started having regular bowel movements. Since that time, he now receives a whole rotation of quality proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Not many two year olds get beets, bison, kale, flax seed oil and quinoa on a regular basis!
After this lightbulb moment, I dusted off my MBA and started researching more. Turns out $3 billion worth of tube-feeding formula is sold annually in the U.S. – and it’s growing. Just about all of those formulas contain the same basic stuff, mostly corn syrup / corn derivatives. None of them contained 100% real food or offer nutritional variety. This is what is being prescribed to kids like AJ who have neurological issues, and people who have cancer, ALS, cerebral palsy, MS, AIDS, and the other 150+ different conditions that could make a feeding tube necessary – all conditions that deserve the best nutritional support possible. (It’s worth noting that formula is not innately bad – many people wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for some of these specialized formulas!) (Note from Kelly: I disagree with that statement, I actually do think it's bad, having seen the ingredient labels, but better than starving I suppose…)
That’s when the idea for Real Food Blends for healthy tube feeding was born. 100% real food, pureed meals for people on feeding tubes in convenient shelf-stable pouches. We’re starting with 3 different meal options but hope to add more quickly to provide nutritional variety.
Feeding a real food diet is rarely suggested by those in the medical community, but almost every nutritionist and doctor that has heard we have AJ on a “blenderized diet” gives us a pat on the back, saying “It’s the best thing for him.” (However, one young girl on a blended diet was kicked out of her lunchroom because of this ‘unsafe practice’ of putting real food into her stomach!) It’s my hope that Real Food Blends makes real food via tube the preferred option for tube feeding. After all, what would you put into your body if taste didn’t matter?
Julie Bombacino is the founder of Real Food Blends. She lives outside Chicago with her husband Tony, daughter Luca and son AJ. Click here to buy Real Food Blends meals for healthy tube feeding.
This is Kelly again. So what about you, what would you put into your body or your kids' bodies if a tube feeding was necessary?
I can't wait to hear how you answer that question!
Personally, I'd make my own, and use similar foods as Julie does, such as bone broth, coconut oil, and pastured meats, but also add in things like ground liver and cod liver oil and butter oil – and I'd look closely at the WAPF baby formula kit, too. What a great option Real Food Blends would be to have on hand, though, for times you run out of your own meals or on crazy days. Or for those who just wouldn't make their own, which is a lot of people.
Healthy tube feeding IS possible!
Please spread the word to anyone you know who could use this information about healthy tube feeding!
Better Baby Formula
By the way, as I mentioned above, those of you who need to give your baby formula will want to listen to this advice as well. Commercial baby formulas are full of junk and if I had to do it over again and couldn't breastfeed for whatever reason, I would not give my baby that stuff. (This is not a judgement on those who don't or didn't know better! I gave our oldest formula, too, because I didn't know any of this then.) Thankfully, you can get the Weston Price baby formula kit here.
- Read my posts about breastfeeding and the struggles we had early on
- Get Real Food Blends for healthy tube feeding here
Watch the video about healthy tube feeding:
When will they (Real Food Blends) make this type of food with organic ingredients?
DIANE IVES says
any possibility of making a substitute for Ensure?
Diane, I’d look into something like this:
Julia Van Ells says
My husband is on a feeding tube- hopefully short term. Was Soo shocked when I read the first 3 ingredients: water, corn syrup and sugar and he was/is a diabetic. He doesn’t agree to do anything. When I complained to the nutritionist she showed me an alternate expensive soy product The doctor called and left a message not to change his food because “We don’t know anything about it”. My husband doesn’t want to do anything about it
I’d make his food if at all possible to avoid that stuff that sounds horrible!!!
Email me if you need help and I can help you figure it out. OR just buy the stuff mentioned in this post.
Mary Fulton says
My husband is diabetic, just had a stroke and now has a feeding tube. Can you tell the measurements you use
Gabrielle Allen says
Hi, great information. I am forwarding this to the parents of a kid I am working with. The link to the Real Food Blends lead to a Godaddy Domain Search site. I googled the site and found it. But would be great if you could fix the link on the site. Video also does not play.
I fixed it Gabrielle, thanks for telling me!
What about for people who CAN eat but just barely? My dad is living off of drinking boxes of Boost and would like a more holistic option with better carbs and fat.
I’d like to get some of this but it would need to be pretty tasty since gagging is a big concern?
J in VA says
Could you make some healthy smoothie type drinks at the thickness that is best for him? Healthy milk, cream, fruits, veggies, etc… would have to be WAY better. You could add farm egg yolk for additional nutrition.
Tubie Mom says
There is a website and Facebook group called Drink Your Meals. They have recipes that taste good and are nutritious for people on liquid diets.
Kelly, could you please email me an address that I could send a link to you (privately) about a boy who is strictly tube-fed to see if you can tell (by his condition) if this is something he could do? I would email a link to this page directly to his mom, but she is always getting well-meaning advice from people and I don’t want to burden her with responding to my suggestion if it won’t work for her son. If you think it could work, I’ll email her the link with a little more confidence.
Julie Bombacino says
Wendi – So nice of you to think of that little boy. You can email me directly at [email protected] or find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JustFoodBlends
I LOVE hearing about people taking responsibility for their own health and decisions. Way to go, Julie!
I forgot to mention too: thank God for Fathers who are willing to try something alternative suggested by their wives for the benefit of their children. I am thankful my husband supports our diet 100%. 🙂
I couldn’t agree more, I’m so thankful to Kent for the ways he stands behind what must sometimes seem like craziness to him at first! (Until he looks into it or thinks about it more.)
Julie Bombacino says
Yes – thank God for the dads! I could not have done any of this without my husband!
Once again, a dedicated mother finds a solution. 🙂
When I went to the GAPS seminar last year at the wise traditions conference, Dr. Natasha pointed out that often healing by nutrition is discovered by… Moms! I believe if memory serves me correctly that the specific carbohydrate diet was put together by a mom, and Dr. Natasha (a mom) put together GAPS.
Thank God for moms!
And to moms (like me) who gave their kids formula as babies, don’t feel bad! If you know now, that’s what matters. I was given soy formula as a baby, but my mom also cooked most meals from scratch and kept sugary stuff to a bare minimum in our home. I’m still alive and now thriving on a WAPF diet. My mom did the very best she could to keep me alive while working full time and having a limited budget. I am thankful to my mom. 🙂
My husband and I were just talking recently about the nasty ingredients in tube-fed “meals”! So glad someone is actually providing an alternative and drawing attention to the issue!
The first stage of digestion that happens in the mouth not only chews up the food (which a blender also does), but begins digestion with the enzymes in saliva. With the real food tube fed meals, are there digestive enzymes added before tube feeding to more precisely mimic the natural first stage of digestion? Just wondering about that. If not, that would probably enhance the digestibility of the meals. Also, pre-soaking any grains included to reduce anti-nutrients as well.
At any rate, what is currently being provided with these blended real food meals is 100 times better than the “normal” tube feeding, even if they don’t contain added enzymes or have pre-soaked grains. Bravo, Julie, for being proactive and thinking outside the box!
Julie Bombacino says
Hi Jill, Great points. We discussed adding enzymes to our blends but decided to let our customers add those if they needed to. We weren’t sure that the benefits of the enzymes would stand up to the heating process we need to do to make the meals shelf-stable. When blending at home for AJ, I will add enzymes occasionally as they thin a thick blend out too!
Regarding the grains, they are cooked before blending.
Tubie Mom says
I think adding digestive enzymes may hinder some from purchasing the product actually. My son is on a whole foods blended diet. He does swallow, which means that his saliva does end up in his stomach as he’s eating. We have tried digestive enzymes with him, I don’t think that they really worked at all. By adding something like this to the Just Food blend would be a turn off to me. I don’t like giving my son any supplements that he doesn’t “need”.
Soaking or sprouting grains that need to be soaked or sprouted may be a good idea to consider for easier digestion and nutrient absorbtion. On the other hand, If people want soaked grains they can easily make their own blends.
Great job Julie, we wish your company huge success! Thank you for being a positive influence in the tube feeding world.
Thanks for this great post. I did this for my mom when she was on a feeding tube, the last 6 years of her life. I was revolted by what I saw the nurses giving her in the recommended cans of liquid food. I began speaking with our private nurses who resisted at first with all kinds of objections but over a short time they took it on and my mom’s last years were comfortable as she received real food blended to fit in her stomach tube. My dad didnt need a feeding tube but the nurses who cared for him post stroke kept using corn starch on him (baby powder) and corn rich foods (again the liquid commercial food product) and he has allergies! I convinced them to use arrowroot powder for his skin needs and avoid all corn products. What relief it gave him was always apparent as his allergies calmed down and he could rest comfortably.