Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.11.06 PMInstinctual in every parent, especially mothers, is a deep-seated desire to feed their children. For parents of children with feeding tubes, this need is just as strong but a lot more complicated.

Our team has worked with hundreds of children with feeding tubes.  As research and experience has dictated, we have shifted away from formula feeds over the past few years towards using real food. Many parents have been told that their child’s best nutrition option is a manufactured formula, which is false.

Real food is more digestible, decreases reflux and constipation, encourages good growth, and is more natural.  Parents who are trained to prepare real food for their children are often surprised to know that they can meet their child’s nutritional needs and improve feeding tolerance by shifting from formula to real food. With Feed to Succeed, something as elusive as feeding a child is suddenly a real possibility. Time and time again, we get to share the moment of a family making a positive transition to a healthier child.

For six years Betsy Hjelmgren worked at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital) in the NICU, working with patients who had feeding tubes and IV nutrition. Gia Diakakis worked at Rush Children’s University Medical Center as a certified specialist in the nutrition support. Parenteral and enteral nutrition is one of our specialties.

In the hopsital, we fed patients commercial formula as has been done in the field for decades. This was considered more sterile and safe. However, one look at the ingredients in these products reveals the first three ingredients are water, sugar and maltodextrin (corn). Take a look at the long list of ingredients from one major manufacturer:

Ingredients: Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Milk Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Pea Protein Concentrate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Tuna Oil, Potassium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Salt, Potassium Hydroxide, m-Inositol, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Lutein, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin.

We can do better.

Over the past several years, Feed to Succeed has shifted our emphasis for our patients with gastrointestinal tubes (G-tubes) to real, blended foods. Our move came after the 2011 release of a study in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition that showed that 33 patients who switched to natural food through their tube instead of commercially made formulas were either no worse or were better from the change. These kids experienced less retching and gagging, and several had increased success with eating by mouth.

Indeed, that’s been our own experience in our practice. We also see that children on blended diets are more interested in eating, feel better and many are able to begin or increase eating some foods orally – which is always our goal.

Parents are especially thrilled to be more mobile, leaving feeding tube pumps behind and instead feeding their children with the use of a syringe. Companies like Real Food Blends make ready-made packets that can be covered by insurance. All of the sudden, a feeding can take 10 minutes instead of 60 and can be done anywhere!

For parents who want to blend their own food, we offer precise recipes using our nutrition software. It’s for these parents of complex children, that blending a meal in a Vitamix can be one of the most empowering acts of them all.

Contact us for a consultation on feeding tubes