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