Our Blenderized Diet Experience So Far

In our last post, we discussed the surgery options presented to us by doctors to address Andrew’s severe vomiting and reflux. Wary of more surgeries that may or may not even work, I did some internet sleuthing and came upon the blenderized diet (which, also, may or may not work.)

We are now about two months into the diet. The results:

  • Andrew went from vomiting up every ounce of formula feeding to keeping down the vast majority of his meals.
  • By day 4 of the diet, Andrew was 100% off of formula.
  • Andrew went from stooling 1-2 times a week of straight diarrhea to 1-2 very healthy looking stools a day. This happened within a day or two of starting the diet.
  • Andrew stopped retching and gagging for no apparent reason at all hours of the day.
  • Andrew went from taking a couple 10-15 minute cat naps a day to 1-2 hour long naps. He also now sleeps through the night for 10-11 hours with no night feedings.
  • Andrew is gaining weight. Not a whole lot, to be honest. But he stopped losing weight at least.
  • Andrew is happy and comfortable. What more could we ask for?

Clearly, formula had not been agreeing with Andrew, as his body is now responding appropriately and healthfully to real food. We are simply bewildered and beyond pleased at how amazingly fast, drastic, and profoundly positive the blenderized diet has been in treating not only Andrew’s severe reflux but his overall GI system. We recognize that the blenderized diet is not for all children and that not everyone with severe GI problems will react in this way. However, I fully believe that it should be an option made available by the medical community to parents as a treatment option in addition to the most commonly recommended surgeries to treat severe reflux (which, as I mentioned earlier, are generally presented with the caveat that it may or may not work.) The blenderized diet is not a familiar concept to most U.S. hospitals where commercial formula has reigned king since its introduction in the seventies. Fortunately, at a number of top children’s hospitals like CHOP and Cincinnati Children’s, the GI departments  have a number of doctors and dietitians who are familiar with it and often do recommend and provide the proper supports for parents to start it. In fact, this 2010 study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital of thirty-three children with failed nissen-fundoplications who trialed the blenderized diet showed a 75-100 percent immediate reduction of 50 percent or more in reflux and vomiting episodes.

For Andrew and our family, the blenderized diet has been completely, utterly life-changing. It boggles our minds that had we not come across the diet on the internet (as it was never presented  as an option by our medical team) that Andrew would inevitably have had to endure more surgeries. What we also find interesting is that if you think about it, the diet isn’t anything particularly radical. Our son was throwing up his formula and suffering from hunger and dehydration for months. Surgery options were presented, yes, but formula as the problem was never ever considered a possibility (most children with g-tubes tolerate formula perfectly well.) But why not just puree him some real food, feed it through his tube, and see if his system would find it agreeable? The human body was designed, after all, to eat real food.

For those interested in the practical logistics of the diet, I’ve broken down how we’ve implemented the diet in basic categories below. Hopefully, this will be of help to somebody out there! And contrary to what others may think, it is not that much work at all to create a blend. I find it so much easier to create a blend in bulk for Andrew than to cook for the rest of the family. Before beginning any drastic change in your child’s diet, however, please be sure to run it by your medical team first. There may be some resistance, as there was in our case, but it’s important that you have a supportive doctor and dietician to help guide you through the process. Ours didn’t know a thing about the diet and were not particularly supportive at first. But they acknowledged that it was because they were not familiar with it. The important thing was that after a bit of convincing, they were willing to trial it and learn.

Resources That Gave Me Confidence to Start the Diet:
Homemade Blended Formula Handbook by Marsha Dunn Klein
Ainsley Rae blog: great practical tips on how to get started, how-to youtube videos
Pros and Cons of the Blenderized Diet
Facebook groups for Blenderized Diet and Children with Feeding Tubes

Our Essential Supplies:
Vitamix or Blendtec blender. Vitamix will provide a 25% discount for a refurbished blender if the purchase is for medical need, bringing the cost down to $299 plus tax and free shipping and handling. Call 1-800-848-2649 for more information. I’m not sure whether Blendtec offers discounts but I know they are known to donate blenders for free to families in medical need of one.
60 cc squirrel syringes
4 and 8 oz evenglo glass bottles

Andrew’s First Blenderized Diet Recipe: this one comes out to about 34 calories/oz. His Elecare formula is 30 calories/oz. In the other recipes I’ve come up with, the ratios for protein/grains/oils/veggies/fruits generally stay the same. I just swap different foods each time for variety.

3 cups of roast chicken 700 calories
1 cup orange juice 100 calories
1 cup soy milk 100 calories
2 slices of whole wheat bread 200 calories
1 cup blueberries 70 calories
1/2 cup broccoli 40 calories
1 cup spinach 60 calories
1 tablespoon of olive oil 120 calories
1/3 cup apple sauce 60 calories
1/2 cup peas 60 calories
1/2 banana 50 calories
1 container pureed pear 45 calories
Total Calories: 1645

Look at that smile! Andrew loves real food!

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31 Responses to Our Blenderized Diet Experience So Far

  1. Alison says:

    That photo is gorgeous! I’m glad the diet is working well for you guys. I have been thinking of trying it but haven’t got there yet – surely it is more work than preparing formula??? Surely it is healthier though???

    • earlybirdies says:

      Thanks, Alison! It’s definitely more work than preparing formula but after the first week, I could do it with my eyes closed pretty much. I make a batch every other day. But I know other families make a bulk match for the month and then freeze and thaw.

  2. That’s so great!! I love it when moms can out-think doctors… but I hate it that they have to! I can’t believe how all that schooling seems to erase all their common sense. Of course most kids would do better with real food!
    Malachi is the same way. We switched to a coconut-rice milk mixture instead of straight Pediasure and he’s doing much better since then. I should do blenderized stuff but I just don’t have the energy for it. Some day I’ll figure it out, though he is eating more real food these days. We’ll see!

  3. Having a mixture of feelings of joy for this complete reversal in Andrew’s outcomes, but that joy wants to be stolen by outrage at how potentially off-course your medical council could’ve been were it not for your diligence and skepticism. It affirms my belief that our society being taught HOW to question, research, and learn is far more fundamental than rote acceptance and mastery of facts.

    But now that I’ve noted your experience to my life-lesson memory, I will leave the outrage at the door and give thanks and be happy for the tremendous change and goodness that has been revealed with this diet.

    • earlybirdies says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful words, Seth, as usual :). Medicine, especially, is one of those fields where it is hard to think outside of the box and changes happen very slowly. I greatly respect the medical profession but have certainly learned the ridiculously hard way on multiple occasions to trust my instincts and not always take everything a MD says as the final word.

  4. Lina says:

    The smile says it all! (even his tiny, uneven teeth–damaged by the vomiting). You rock, Jenn!

  5. A says:

    So awesome to see that smile! I’m thinking of moving N to a blenderized diet too, but will have to wait till after the bar exam to fully implement that.. May I ask if there’s any functional difference between the Vitamix and Blendtec, and which blender you went with? I just wrote out what foods S will eat, and Andrew’s diet is so much more varied and yummy than her list!

    • earlybirdies says:

      I did a lot of research between the blenders. I think the bottom line is that there is very little difference between the two and both will do the job well. I went with the Vitamix because they have more options in terms of blender speed and a 10-year-warranty option. But Blendtec blenderized diet families I know of are just as pleased with theirs as well! And I agree, Andrew eats a lot of yummy things. He probably has the healthiest diet of any of us in our family.

  6. Jenny says:

    So glad it is going well – we love the blenderized diet too – our doctors were fully on board, by the way! We also started for different reasons (we already have a nissen, and it is working well) – it was really our preference, but I love that it’s real food. My kid who is on the blended diet eats WAY better than the ones who are typical!

  7. Kate says:

    What a wonderful update Jen. I love the joy in that picture.

  8. angeychang says:

    Yay, Andrew!! Love you guys.

  9. Sharon says:

    This is exactly what our experience was. But we let it go on for almost 3 years and nearly lost our boy. The diarrhea and bloating were horrible. His GI system almost totally shut down. I insisted we try this before they did an Iliostomy. (He had even been changed to a GJ tube that didn’t change anything). The very next day he pooped normal. The gas and vomiting went away. He’s a different boy now! He was the first and the experiment at the Children’s Hospital. Since then they have started most of their other kids on it with success. I’m a huge believer!!! It saved our boy!!

    • earlybirdies says:

      Sharon, thank you for sharing your experience. I felt like we were going to lose Andrew during our lowest points because of his feeding intolerances as well. And I’m so sorry that he had to endure multiple surgeries as well! And they didn’t even work! I’m so glad that somebody at the hospital (or was it you??) that suggested the diet as an alternative. I know for our particular GI and dietician, Andrew was their first blenderized patient. I’m not sure if it will cause anything revolutionary within the department but, for sure, it had to have opened up their eyes.

      • Sharon says:

        I had been doing a lot of research on the internet and came across the Blenderized diet. I had been telling the GI docs that his problems started with the G tube. They kept looking at it’s placement and saying that everything looked good. They did change the canned food a few times with no results so they didn’t think it was the food. They had never tried the Blenderized diet but were very open to us trying it. (Danny had been in and out of the hospital for most of last year. They would give him IV’s to put his tummy at rest. We’d come home and be OK for a couple weeks and then be right back where we were.). They didn’t have a clue what was going on and were willing to try anything! Thank goodness it worked!!!

  10. Kate says:

    Twin! I am so glad that you are such an awesome mom and were able to figure something out for Andrew! 🙂 He looks so happy!

  11. Michelle says:

    Love that smile!

  12. Aadhaar says:

    Brilliant, thanks for putting it out there. That lack of awareness and resources is precisely why I did this: http://completetubefeeding.net/ Now there’s a book that covers both the ins and outs of tube ownership AND the support and information necessary to get into blended foods via tube. I hope all keeps going smoothly for you!

  13. Joy says:

    What a wonderful success you have had with the blended diet, I only just found out about it from various babycenter forums. My daughter doesn’t tolerate formulas and she vomits every day. We have just ordered a vitamix blender and can’t wait to start our daughter on the blenderized diet. It has been so encouraging reading your journey with the blended diet. I hope it continues to go well 🙂 great photo too

  14. Yumi says:

    You are an amazing mom, Jenn. Hats off. So happy that Andrew is doing so well. Keep posting pics of that yummy, smiling face! Xoxo

  15. Hi, I just randomly found your blog while doing some Convaid Cruiser research and found myself immediately sucked in. I’m so, so happy that you found the blenderized diet and made it happen for Andrew. You are obviously a warrior mama. My son, Collin has had wonderful success with the blenderized diet and we also do the ketogenic diet, which has controlled his seizures for two years this week! You have a beautiful family and I look forward to reading more. Feel free to come over to collinthechamp.blogspot.com to get a look at Collin.

  16. shakeria says:

    I’m so glad you have found a natural way.. sometimes as parents we need to be vigilant in our children’s medical care. Andrew is truly amazing and I’m happy to know and see that beautiful smile on his face.

  17. I’m glad that Andrew is doing so well on a blenderized diet. There is now a 100% whole food, shelf stable option available to those that are tube fed. justfoodblends.com

  18. trish naylor says:

    Hi, I’m a mom who is tired after 8 years of my tubie son vomiting, loosing weight, gagging, crying, not sleeping, and simply looking unhealthy. In Nov, I started eating clean and I am now questioning the formula (the sugar alone is enough to make ANYONE sick)! Why don’t the doctors see this as a simple find?!?!? One of my son’s WONDERFUL nurses sent me a link to you… A couple days ago, we changed dietitians. She is at least willing to discuss this possibility in a couple weeks. I have decided after a little “google time”, it’s worth a trial before more surgeries and tests and travel for answers!!! Thanks for your knowledge and encouragement!!!

    • earlybirdies says:

      Hi, Trish. Thank you for the kind words! I hope that this really works for your son too. This blog was created to help others and I’m glad that your nurse stumbled upon it. I remember reading about a woman in another blog who dealt with the vomiting and malnourishment for sixteen YEARS before she discovered the blenderized diet! Now her son is a totally different person–in the most excellent of ways :). It’s interesting that you mention that you started clean eating. I have to say, this whole experience has opened my eyes to the powers of both the pharmaceutical AND food industries–our family’s eating has completely been overhauled as a result.

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