Tube Feeding Options

So, here’s a weird case of foreshadowing. Several years ago, for Tube Feeding Awareness Week, this small business asked if I would do a post about their product. I loved the product and loved the idea that it was started by a mom, so I agreed. Fast forward a few years, and now I’m becoming a customer.

Kevin got a g-tube this year. I am so glad we made this decision. However, after the surgery, a nurse came in to show me how to work the pump and feed him. She handed me a carton. It was a Nestle shake. Ugh. I felt instantly deflated.

real food options for tubies

Seriously. I’ve said before that I am a giant pain the ass to shop with because I boycott so many companies. But Nestle was my first boycott, I think. (coulda been Walmart) I have not knowingly purchased a Nestle product in 15 years. So many reasons!

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Anyway, I have been reluctantly giving Kevin Nestle shakes. We go back for the post-surgical checkup in about 2 weeks and then I am going to ask about switching. Overall, I’m not thrilled about sustaining a kid on these shakes. (and I’m not shaming those who do, I just want different for my child) He’s a good candidate for them due to his specific feeding issues that warranted a g-tube in the first place.

I love this idea, and leave it to a mom to come up with it! If you’ve been following my blog or Facebook page for a while, you know that in the past few years, I am trying to move my family to more of a Blue Zone lifestyle. More real food. Fewer preservatives, less processed stuff, healthier options, cleaner living…all that fun stuff. And it’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, at least not successfully. I’ve been gradually changing over our refrigerator and pantry to more healthy choices than before.

Until this company approached me, I had NO IDEA that many of the tube feeding formula options based their calories on corn syrup! Corn syrup! Are you kidding me??

With a gtube, this is finally an opportunity for me to establish healthy eating habits for my kid. And, why wouldn’t I make the most of it?

Real Food Options for Tubies

Feeding tubes are a lifesaver for many. Half a million children and adults in the United States alone rely on feeding tubes, a number that is expected to increase by eight percent over the next few years. Feeding tubes are not just for those at the end of life; they also provide necessary nutritional support to live, grow and thrive. There are well over 300 conditions and diseases that can require tube feeding in children and adults.

I had no idea it was that many people, and that the number is growing, not shrinking. And if your child needs a feeding tube…why should you have to resort to corn syrup-based caloric intake?

Julie Bombacino is proof that necessity really is the “mother” of all inventions. The Northwest Indiana mom set out to find more natural and nutritious meal options for her young tube-fed son AJ and a couple of years later she and her husband Tony ended up launching Real Food Blends. Their company now makes 100% real food meals for people with feeding tubes and is changing the way tube-fed children and adults eat. AJ failed many different formulas, most of which got the bulk of their calories from corn syrup when he was put on a feeding tube at six months old. That’s when Bombacino started experimenting with pureeing and blending various whole foods at home to feed him through his feeding tube.

She knew she was on to something when she saw AJ’s dramatic improvements with less vomiting, better sleeping, and general attitude. But cooking, blending, preparing and storing safely took a lot of time (and money); and leaving the home was difficult. She needed a solution that was simple, natural and safe. So Julie and her husband Tony created one: Real Food Blends. A road trip to Orlando, and all the associated work and inconvenience of blending on the road, was their “ah-ha” moment to create a line of pre-packaged, real food meals for people with feeding tubes. I love that they call AJ their CIO- or Chief Inspiration Officer.

“AJ’s reaction to real food wasn’t an anomaly. We all know that eating a whole food, variety-rich diet is better for the body than only processed food”, said Julie Bombacino, Co-Founder & CEO of Real Food Blends. “People with feeding tubes have been told that formula is their only option for decades. That simply isn’t true anymore.”

Thanks to their passionate community of “raving fans”, growing support of registered dietitians, expanded insurance coverage and great partners, in its first full year of operation, Real Food Blends will surpass $1Million in sales in 2015 and is positioned for exponential growth in the months ahead.

The company is making real food a convenient option for tube-fed people of all ages and is just beginning its disruption of the $5 Billion U.S. enteral nutrition market. In addition to three meal varieties of Orange Chicken with Carrots & Barley, Quinoa with Hemp & Kale and Salmon with Oats & Squash that include seven real ingredients, they also offer a Coconut Calorie Booster, an all-natural powdered nutritional supplement for those who need additional calories with minimal volume. A new meal option is planned to launch later this year as well.

Now at four years old, AJ, the company’s Chief Inspiration Officer, continues to thrive. For Julie and Tony, seeing AJ’s progress and hearing similar stories and testimonials from customers of all ages across the country is their true measure of success.

One Real Food Blends customer, Brian Liebenow, an oral cancer survivor and Air Force veteran, really put things into perspective when he said, “It was just like eating a regular blended meal. Easy on my stomach and I felt completely satisfied. No nausea either. These meals will also be so vital to me when I’m traveling. Real Food Blends are easy to pack and shelf-stable, without needing refrigeration. Seriously, EVERY TUBIE NEEDS TO GO OUT AND BUY THESE BLENDS!”ABOUT REAL FOOD BLENDS

Real Food Blends makes 100% real food meals for people with feeding tubes. Founded by Julie & Tony Bombacino after their tube-fed son failed commercially available formulas, tube-fed people of all ages are now able to easily enjoy real food without corn syrup, additives or preservatives. Real Food Blends are covered by many insurance plans and available nationwide through major medical distributors, home health care companies, and

Reminder, as I said earlier in the post, this was originally published in 2016. Some facts (like AJ’s age!) are not the same.

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