The Challenge of Holidays with Tube Feeding

thanksgiving meal

The holiday season is fast approaching, and you know what that means — big family gatherings and reconnecting with relatives and friends. For many, it’s a time to celebrate around a festive meal.

But if you have a child with a feeding tube, these family get-togethers often add more stress and remind you of the medical challenges your family is facing.

Just showing up to the event is a big task. Meal times often aren’t as enjoyable or inclusive for everyone, and the constant needs of medical care pull you away from the experience.

This is even harder if your child is struggling with their tube feeding formula plan. Long feed times and constant vomiting take you away for even longer, leading you to feel burnt out and isolated.

As a registered dietitian who specializing in tube feeding, I’ve supported countless families through this journey. Time and again, parents express how tough it has been, often finding themselves at their breaking point, desperate for some relief.

Blended Diet Success: A Thanksgiving Story

Hilarie pouring blended Thanksgiving meal into a bag

But I have some good news — there’s hope! A solution that’s not often presented could be the game-changer for your child, one that may even help you enjoy the holiday season again.

Last year, a mom reached out feeling pretty hopeless. Her daughter had a feeding tube placed a few years prior because she was not growing well and needed support with her nutrition.

Unfortunately, every tube feeding formula and adjustment they tried lead to digestive issues and daily discomfort, and she was eating less by mouth than ever before.

Her tube feeding plan required around the clock care and she still vomited multiple times per day. Mom was told, “kids with feeding tubes just vomit more” and “she will grow out of it.” It was heartbreaking for her to watch her daughter just getting by, not truly thriving.

This mom shared with me she now dreaded the holiday season, which was quickly approaching. It was always a debate whether it was worth it to go — just leaving the house was hard and car rides made her daughter’s reflux much worse.

Thanksgiving vegetables on a cutting board next to a blender

She was desperate for relief and heard real food could help, but wasn’t sure where to start and needed some guidance. With close support and easy-to-follow blended diet recipes, Mom slowly started introducing real food into her tube feeding routine.

Just one month into the transition, her daughter started feeling better, and for the first time in a long while, went a couple weeks without vomiting!

This thicker, real food was sitting better with her, and Mom shared she seemed like a different kid (you can learn more about the benefits of thicker food here). She was even able to handle more volume of food over a shorter period of time! The plan was finally getting easier to handle, and they began to feel hopeful that things might get better.

So they decided to make the short trip to a small Thanksgiving party, bringing their Blendtec with them. When it came time for dinner, Mom made a plate for her daughter and blended it. After just a month of following my blended diet recipes, she was quickly gaining confidence in creating nutritious tube-fed meals for her daughter.

This was a huge moment. To not stress about exact calorie or nutrient intake, to share the same food with her daughter, and to watch her happy and enjoying it with the rest of the family, brought back a feeling she had missed: the simple joy of nurturing.

pouring orange blended food

Simple Thanksgiving Dinner Blended Tube Feeding Recipe

Looking to include your child in Thanksgiving this year? Here is a simple Thanksgiving dinner blended tube feeding recipe, featuring a selection of classic holiday favorites.

– 3 oz turkey breast, cooked
– 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
– 1/4 cup green bean casserole
– 1 small dinner roll
– 1 Tbsp butter
– 1 cup broth or water

Add food and liquid to the blender and blend on high for ~2 minutes, or until completely liquified and with no chunks. You may need to strain the blended meal if there are any pieces/chunks.

This yields ~480 mL, with approximately 535 calories (1.1 calories per mL) and 32 g of protein for full recipe. However, the exact nutritional content may vary by brand or type.

The Power of a Blended Diet in Transforming Tube Feeding

Finding a tube feeding plan that your child tolerates and works with your schedule can feel like a never-ending struggle. But in my experience, simply incorporating some real food into your child’s tube feeding routine can make a world of a difference.

You may be thinking, where do I start, and how do I get my team on board with this? Well, you’re exactly who I created Blended Tube Feeding Made Simple for! You’ll have a friend walking you through each step and finally someone taking work OFF your plate, not adding to it.

Hilarie in front of computer

I’ll show you what equipment you need, how to slowly introduce real food, and how easy it is to meet calorie and nutrient needs with simple recipes. And I know you’re busy, so this is designed to fit into your life, not add to it.

And with a supportive community RIGHT inside the program, you’ll get your questions answered fast plus personalized support along the way. This journey is so much easier when you’re not going at it alone.

If you’re tired of the formula struggle and you’re curious about how real food could change the game for you, check out Blended Tube Feeding Made Simple. The holiday season could look a lot different for you!

I hope this helps you think about tube feeding a little differently, and makes the future of your tube feeding journey a bit brighter. And remember — you’ve got a community by your side, supporting you every step of the way! You’re never alone in this journey!

Beyond the Meal: Embracing the Holiday Spirit

The holidays are not only about sharing a meal! Here are a handful of activities to try that don’t involve food:

thanksgiving craft supplies on a table

Stickers: Pick out festive stickers and spend some time decorating syringes or other medical equipment! This can help bring a positive distraction, making the feeding process more enjoyable for your child.

Crafting Together: Making holiday crafts or decorating the house can be fun for everyone. Whether it’s choosing the craft, holding the paint brush, playing with decorations, or leading the activity, everyone in the family can be involved.

Movie Marathon: Set up a cozy movie-watching area with blankets and cushions pick out holiday movies. Everyone can snuggle up with blankets and enjoy together.

Music and Dance: Play holiday music and dance as a family. Fun instruments that make noise, light up, or vibrate can really add to the experience!

In the end, holidays are more about the love and moments we share and nutrition is so much more than fueling our bodies. It’s a way we connect with others, share love, and take care of ourselves. And this is possible when blending real food for tube feeding.

Happy Holidays,

Hilarie, RD, CSP

*Disclaimer: The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical advice. Always check with your own medical professional before trying to implement any information provided here

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