The Journey Begins
My son has a brain injury. He had a feeding tube placed just about three days into his three week ICU stay. For several years I worked with him to eat by mouth, but it was slow going. Most of his nutrition came from a formula prescribed from the very beginning.
My concern was that I was just pouring synthetic vitamins into his tube multiple times a day. I started thinking of ways I could get more real nutrients in him. I even took an 18-month course to become a certified nutritional coach. (Not a nutritionist or dietician.) Armed with my new found knowledge I set out to find another way. A better way.
Juicing for Nutrition
I started by buying a juicer. I knew I could use a lot of different fruits and veggies to provide some well-rounded nutrition without disrupting his normal feedings. After just a little bit of research, I discovered a lot of foods that he couldn't necessarily eat even if pureed were loaded with vitamins and minerals.
There were quite a few juicing recipes around the web and I started downloading them and experimenting. to start with, I used foods that were not easy to puree. I also used some basics. At first, I spent a lot of money going all out. Over time, I've learned to keep it simple, use what I have and something is always better than nothing.
My fridge almost always has celery and carrots in it. And most of the time, I have apples on hand. That's a nice, inexpensive variety to start with. Stay tuned for more posts on juicing!
My Road to a Blenderized Eating Plan
My first thought when I read the "ingredients" on the can of formula was, I think I can do better than this." So, I actually started by replacing his morning feeding with whole milk and instant breakfast. Of course, I didn't plan on doing that long term, but I wanted to start with something with a little more realness to it. (I laugh now.. but that's how it was!)
I wasn't happy with all the sugar and fillers in instant breakfasts, so I started thinking about different foods I could use. I tried adding nuts to his shakes but found them to be too course for tube feeding. So, I learned how to make my own nut butters.
Another food adventure I took was in learning all the different alternatives for milk. There are lots of them and they can all be made easily from home. The dairy caused my son some problems due to asthma. Not only are these home-made "milks" dairy-free, they are literally loaded with nutritional benefits.
After trying my hand at nut butters and milk-alternatives, I began to experiment with a variety of foods. I wanted to make sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats, and a protein source.
There was a lot of trial and error. I did have a slight advantage as I'd been pureeing foods for his once or twice a day feedings by mouth. I'd learned a lot about textures and what would and wouldn't work so well.
It did take me quite some time, like almost a year, to be comfortable enough with my processes to cancel his formula order. The doctor ordered blood work to check his nutrition levels. They were perfect! :-) I've been doing this now for over three years and have learned a lot of tricks-of-the-trade I hope to share here in this blog.
What's to Come?
As I continue to search online for sources and resources, I find information to still be rather thin even though there are a lot of folks out there doing a blenderized diet for themselves or their loved ones. There are few recipes to be found. Those are good, but I wanted more.
I also found that most sites, blogs, and other information are centered on blenderized diets for kids. My son is a full-grown adult! It takes a bit more to fill him up and meet his nutritional needs.
And so here we are. I hope to share tips, tricks, mess-ups, and successes with you. I'll also share lots of recipes - which is what I have trouble finding. So check back often and follow me on social media for continued ideas and support. Together we can do this!
Hi! I'm a tubie mom. My son is an adult and I decided there had to be a better way than the formulas I was being offered. So I forged my own path and soon found there were lots more like me!