Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blenderized Diet-A New Beginning

Dear Son’s Blenderized Diet is going amazingly well. As you know, I received a Blendtec blender for Christmas and was able to start transitioning Dear Son from formula to a “real food” diet. Dear Son has been using a feeding tube since 2004 for medications and in 2006, had to transition to formula and could not longer eat foods by mouth due to aspiration issues.

In the beginning, my goals were quite simple. I wanted to feed him real foods to help build his immune system. I researched blenderized diets, foods to help his immune system and read everything I could on the internet to assist with this transition. I started the transition in December but there was a steep learning curve. Things didn’t work out in the beginning and I had to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out how to adminster the food.

I finally got the hang of it and on December 20th I was able to start feeding him “real food” for dinner. The transition went so well that two weeks later, I added “real food” for lunch. And then my life totally changed. Dear Son began sleeping through the night. Apparently, he must have been hungry which is why he didn’t sleep well. I had no idea since I had been following doctor’s instructions to decrease his formula intake to help control his weight. Well, when I transitioned him to real food, I researched not only foods to help his immune system but I really worked on trying to make sure he was getting enough fiber in his diet to help with his bowel movements. (Caution-You do need to pay attention and make sure that they are getting enough water when you increase the fiber otherwise they will get backed up.)So even though his calories were the same, the fiber appeared to help him “feel full” and he slept through the night. Now certainly, I’ve known for some time that fiber makes you feel full however I never thought it would have had this kind of impact for Dear Son. I figured this out after about the fifth day when he no longer woke me up. For the first time in ten years, I was able to get more than two consecutive hours of sleep while caring for Dear Son. He slept so well in fact, that I had to force myself to get up to get his medications since he no longer woke me up. In the last ten years, the only time I’ve ever had to set the alarm clock was on school days, so that I could get up at 3:40 a.m. to get his food started in the feeding bag for school. This is life changing. For the last ten years, I have been up multiple times per night and I worried about the long term effects of chronic sleep deprivation on my health. There are many studies that document these effects and I considered chronic sleep deprivation my number one health issue.

Where Dear Son is concerned, the fact that he is sleeping soundly will help him as well. On a cellular level, his body will be able to repair itself now that he is sleeping soundly as well! I can only imagine what a difference it will make over time for him as well.

Not only is Dear Son sleeping well but his bowel movements are normal. When he was on formula, he required Miralax to help with motility (he has motility issues related to his gene mutation). Even with the Miralax, it was a fine line. He either had no stools or drippy stools. Now he has at least one soft stool per day. With the formula, he was getting 6 grams of fiber/day and now that I feed him “real food”, he has on average, 20 grams of fiber between lunch and dinner. I still have him on Miralax but will wean him off over time. I plan on continuing lunch and dinner meals with the real food for a while before transitioning breakfast.

Overall, everything seems better. I’ve been using Livestrong.com to track his calories, protein, carbs, fat and fiber and then inputting all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet. I created formulas so that I know precisely how many calories he has per day plus all of the other nutrition information.

In addition, I use a recipe software program to record meals I’ve created for him. That way, I can save time by having meals created and calorie counts all figured out.

I have reviewed Dear Son’s new feeding plan with his doctor and he approves. I had finally located a registered dietician who is an advocate of blenderized diets and will be setting up an appointment to review his meal plans and make sure that I am not missing anything.

Overall, it is clearly the best decision I have made in the last ten years. I plan on doing a blenderized diet series to walk through everything a parent will need to transition from a formula to a blenderized diet. In the meantime, I am having the time of my life cooking for Dear Son. It is the greatest feeling to be able to cook a real meal for him!

Do you feed your child a blenderized diet? If so, what is the one thing or best tip you think all parents should know?
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