We've chosen to do a blended diet for Charlie because we believe no formula in the world will match "real food" in terms of nutrition, ease of digestion, and aiding in her overall health and growth. Blended diets are not very widely accepted by the medical community yet. So add this to my list of crazy things I do that no one really understands. LOL
But I will try to explain it to the best of my abilities anyway.
First, here is a video made by a fellow MDC mom:
There isn't much out there about blended diets. I've learned almost everything I know by word of mouth on a yahoo group called "Blenderized-Diet". Before formula became routine, people who were tube-fed, or had to be fed purees, were all on diets of real food. No one second guessed this because it was just how it was done. Then formula was invented and it was embraced by the medical community. Doctors like it because you can count calories exactly and you always know what's in it. This is exactly how formula for babies was introduced. We were told it was better for them because we could measure exactly what they were getting. Slowly but surely, it was recognized that breastmilk is best, by a long shot. I truly believe that one day blended diets will also be accepted as the best thing for most* tubefed people, once the myths about it are debunked.
*Some people can only tolerate formulas for various reasons and cannot survive on a typical diet, so for this reason, blended diet is not best for every person.
When I brought up blended diet to a dietitian at the hospital, I was told that doing that with a tubefed child was reckless and I'd never be able to provide appropriate nutrition, but if I wanted to do it, that was my decision, but they would not support it. I was a bit miffed as you can imagine. My 3 year old eats orally and he's healthy as a horse. And let's face it, he doesn't eat perfectly. Why would my tubefed child be different than my orally eating child? Well they aren't, as it turns out. As someone on the yahoo group said, "A g-tube is just a really long esophagus." And that's the truth. If formula really provided everything we need and is so much better for us, why don't we ALL drink it? Surely a lot of people would jump for joy at never having to cook another meal ever again. I know I would. I hate cooking and I hate doing the dishes afterwards. I'd love to just feed my family cans of stuff and then toss the can in the trash. No cooking, no mess, perfect nutrition.
Except it ISN'T perfect nutrition. And it tastes horrible, as I'm told. And if you think it doesn't make a difference to a person who doesn't eat orally, think again. Everytime they burp, they taste whatever went in their stomach. Imagine living on a diet of ensure. Never anything else...just ensure. You would drink as many as you had to in order to get enough calories, but your diet would never vary. Now imagine at every meal eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and meats. Which would you choose? I know I would choose the whole foods diet. Why would I make my child settle for the less desirable option?
Here is a quote from a website I came across:
"Blenderized food may not provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, hydration, and calories you need. It is difficult to formulate a well-rounded, calorie-dense diet that can get through your tube."
Again I ask, WHY? What is so different about the food when it gets put through the blender? When you put so much thought into a person's diet, adding up calories, and adhering to the food pyramid for proper servings of each group, never blending up "junk" food, why wouldn't that person's diet be *better* than of someone eating orally? I know for a fact that Charlie will eat better than Adrian. I can't force Adrian to eat everything he needs to eat, and he certainly likes junk. Charlie will never eat doritos. She'll never have sips of pepsi. She'll always eat her veggies. Wouldn't her diet be better? I think so.
One of the things the dietitian told me was that it would be impossible to make sure Charlie's diet was just right for her because she can't self-regulate. Well, how would formula be any better? She's not self-regulating that. And the dietitians at Children's already proved to be incompetant at managing a baby's diet on breastmilk, which is generally consistant in terms of calories, vitamins, and minerals. We had to regulate that for her and they messed it up. *I* fixed their mistakes. Obviously I'm capable of regulating my daughter's diet on breastmilk. Why not regular food? Well, she said, "But when you eat, you tend to crave foods that are rich in the vitamins that your body needs at that moment." Ok great, that's true and the human body is an amazing thing. But formula doesn't ever change! If a person on formula is craving potassium, their formula won't increase in potassium! Not to mention, just because Charlie doesn't eat doesn't mean she won't crave things. When she's older and can communicate, she most defintitely will be able to tell me what she wants in her blend. She may not be eating it, but her body will be used to real food and she will subconciously know what she needs, just like the rest of us.
So I know I get rambly sometimes. And I know this post was a bit unorganized. But I hope it was at least a little informative. Mostly I like to bring up points that people may have not thought of before so they will be intrigued and research the topic themselves. If you have a tubefed child or other relative and you'd like to learn more about blended diet, or would like to switch to one, join the blenderized-diet yahoo group. You will not find a better resource for info.