It is heartbreaking to find out that you are going to need to feed your child through a tube. Initially, parents may sometimes feel like they have failed in some way and lose hope that their child will ever be able to eat. Plus, in the beginning the situation can be quite scary as you deal with the g-tube being placed. And, formulas are usually the only form of nutrition suggested.
This is where Real Food Blends enters the picture. They believe that easy access to real food should be available to all people, even if they are on feeding tubes. Their meals offer nutritional variety, provide the benefits of 100 percent real food, and can be used to supplement a feeding tube formula only diet. Their meals are a convenient option if you do not feel like blending for tube feeding on a particular day or if you are away from home.
Basic Background Information
Many parents of tube feeding children find that they are unable to thrive on formula. This is because many formulas are packed full of harmful ingredients, such as corn syrup, which is not conducive to an energetic and sustainable lifestyle. Julie Bombacino recognized this deficiency in the options available to her son and decided to do something about.
After a hefty amount of research, Bombacino began feeding her son a blended diet rich in protein, calories, and good fats that lacked the corn syrups and wide array of unpronounceable ingredients found in formulas. An option other than formula was clearly needed for other parents who may be too busy to do their own research and blend their own foods. Bombacino recognized this and used her wherewithal and knowledge to found Real Food Blends in 2012.
Real Food Blends is still a relatively new company, and so far, they have only launched a few meals. But, for tube fed adults and the parents of tube fed children, the reviews could not be more glowing. The meals are designed to reduce the chances of an adverse reaction. Plus, the options are all blended to a similar consistency as formula to ensure they fit in the feeding tube.
Specifics of Real Food Blends
Easy access to 100 percent real food for tube fed people is the number one goal for these blenderized meals. The blended meals are meant to be a convenient option for those who are already blending fresh foods for use in a feeding tube. When blending becomes a logistic challenge when you are hospitalized, at school or work, traveling, or elsewhere, Real Food Blends picks up the slack.
These meals are not formula, although they are intended for tube fed people who are on a 100 percent tube feeding formula. These are meals of real food that are pureed to the point where they can easily fit in a feeding tube. Every day, they can replace one to two cans of enteral formula. Real Food Blends diets can easily introduce real food into a tube fed person’s diet.
Using Real Food Blends is extremely easy. You are sent pouches that are equal to one serving size each. You tear open the pouch, insert your feeding syringe, extract the blenderized foods, and then attach the syringe to the feeding tube. It works the same as with formula.
Anything that makes the life easier for those who are tube fed, often called “tubies,” is a great product. Below are some of the specific benefits of going with Real Food Blends:
- Provides an alternative to formula, which is packed full of questionable ingredients
- Convenient way to eat blended foods when on the go
- Made from 100 percent all natural foods
- Balanced meals to fit nutritional needs
- No need for additional equipment
- Uses same feeding tubes and syringe as formula
- Blended foods are delivered right to your door
- The meals remain shelf stable for up to three years
- Covered by some insurance plans (HCPCS code B4149)
- Produced in a facility regulated by the FDA and USDA
As with any products, there are always drawbacks. Real Food Blends is no exception. One of the biggest drawbacks is that it is so new. Before trying Real Food Blends, you should first consult with a medical doctor. Only they can determine whether you should give a blenderized diet a try. They can also give you tips on transitioning.
Another drawback is that the meals may be a bit expensive for some. However, the price you are paying includes the convenience of not having to stand over a blender and put extra wear and tear on an expensive device. Real Food Blends takes care of it for you. Because of the price, you may just want to keep some pouches on hand for when you are unable to do your own blending.
Finally, another negative is that there are only three meal options currently. Of course, taste is not really a concern here, but for those who are looking for more variety, there is not much currently. As a relatively young company, though, Real Food Blends will likely introduce more options in the future.
The Real Food Blends Story
Real Food Blends – Chicago Tribune
“I did not notice any difference between Real Food Blends and my regular blended meal. Both were easy on my stomach. There was no nausea, and I felt completely satisfied. When I am traveling, these meals are so vital to me. They do not need refrigeration, they are shelf stable, and they are easy to pack. These blends are a must have for every tubie!” –Tracy in Key West, FL
“Since my son gets his food through a J-tube, we added coconut milk to the Real Food Blends pouch to make it runny enough to fit through a strainer. It worked great. Now, when it is not possible to make blends myself, we now have a stack of Real Food Blends meals packed away in his emergency bag. It is incredibly convenient.” –Jackie in Laguna Beach, CA
“For lunch time at school, we have begun to use the meals. My son is happier and appears to have more energy when I pick him up, whereas previously he would just tell me that he was not interested in eating. Before, we had been juicing, but the school preferred sealed food. Now, I know that my son is getting a well-balanced meal.” –Brian in Ashland, OR
“These blends are a life saver for me. My son’s gastrointestinal doctor is also very intrigued by the meals and has begun sharing information about them with other patients. To help with some of the costs for the meals, I would love to see insurance companies covering the meals. I am happy to see Real Food Blends is lobbying for this and has some success.” –Scott in Huntington, WV
As mentioned above, there are currently only three different meals offered by Real Food Blends. In this section, we will break down what is in each of these meals:
- Quinoa, Kale, and Hemp – The ingredients for this dish are very basic: water, kale, grape juice concentrate, hemp powder, extra virgin olive oil, quinoa, and cinnamon. This meal is an excellent source of protein. It is also vegetarian providing a good source of calcium and iron. Plus, it contains one serving of fruits and vegetables.
- Salmon, Oats, and Squash – Again, there are only easily pronounceable, simple ingredients in this meal as well: water, squash puree, salmon, pomegranate juice concentrate, rolled oats, and flaxseed oil. This meal is a great source of iron and protein, and the salmon makes it an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. This meal also has one serving of fruits and vegetables.
- Orange Chicken, Carrots, and Barley – Ingredients in this meal include chicken, barley, carrots, water, orange juice concentrate, ginger, grapeseed oil, and sunflower seeds. This meal is a great source for Vitamin A and protein. And, it also contains one serving of fruits and vegetables.
Adult tubies and the caregivers for younger tubies alike are all coming out in favor of Real Food Blends. Although children with special needs are often unable to vocalize how different food products make them feel, there are other indicators parents can use to gauge their enjoyment, such as sleep levels, mood, energy levels, and bowel movements. Many have found that the change in diet to Real Food Blends has resulted in positive changes.
For legal reasons, Real Food Blends is not able to be completely candid about how beneficial their meals are, since they are not medical professionals. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and many tubies are reaping the benefits of supplementing, and in some cases replacing, their formula only tube diet with real, 100 percent natural foods. We strongly recommend Real Food Blends to anyone who is tube fed.
The official website for Real Food Blends.
Real Food Blends’ frequently asked questions.
Contact information for Real Food Blends.
Nutritional info and other details for all of the Real Food Blends meals.
Real Food Blends’ online store.