When food is medicine
From the age of 3, my boy has been tube fed. From the start we knew we wanted to give him real food blended to go down his tube – we’d learnt quickly that formula feeds didn’t suit him, a major dairy intolerance meant that he had gastrointestinal upset almost constantly even on the most hypoallergenic of feeds.
While his gastro/dietetics team weren’t entirely opposed but weren’t fully behind it either; it took a lot of persuading, cajoling, form filling and agreements that we were doing this against the hospital’s position before they accepted it.
You must remember that this was almost a decade ago and it was definitely seen as divergent from the accepted norm, there weren’t many families doing blended and even fewer openly admitted it!
Sam is thriving on blended. Not only does he gain weight well, but he doesn’t have a lot of the issues of other tubies (reflux, bowel issues, tissue problems, etc). Over the years, the scientist in me couldn't resist researching links between seizures and food; dairy, soy, gluten and corn can cause an increase in seizures in sensitive individuals so we removed these to see what happened.
His seizures improved. Enormously.
His diet is phenomenal as there are very few things we don’t blend and we’ve been able to remove foods that he can’t tolerate easily.
We do add in a powdered multivitamin, a common issue for children on certain medications is that they absorb lower levels of some vitamins from their food... giving them additional support here just keeps everything as it should be.
I'll be blunt, it isn’t suitable for every child. You can’t give blended food down a jejostomy for example. Our son’s issues were never around food tolerance or absorption.
It isn't an easy option but no harder than making meals for any child, and the positive impact on the parents/carers of giving them back the ability to prepare meals and feed their child is enormous.
In 8+ years we haven’t had a single tube blockage nor illness due to blending; medications however have caused numerous tube issues.
Where once it was seen as a militant act to give a child real food through a feeding tube, it is now becoming much more accepted; if families want to try a blended diet and there is no medical reason not to then surely, they deserve the option to try?