Blended Tube Feeding

I was recently invited to write an article on blended tube feeding (BTF) for Dietitian Connection’s online magazine, Infuse. I was thrilled. Not only because I am a huge fan of Dietitian Connection, but also because BTF is a real passion of mine.

The simplest definition of BTF is liquid formula made from food (or a meal) which is typically eaten through the mouth. The food is then blended into a liquid to be put through a feeding tube. 

Just like we offer choice with the type of feeding regimen (by pump vs. by syringe) to suit someone’s lifestyle, we should offer choice with what formula someone is on and … BTF is a viable and effective option.

Below is a teaser from my article, but to read the full thing click here and scroll to page 26.

Is BTF for everyone?

One thing I want to make very clear is that I definitely have no intention to allude that BTF is better than the commercial formulas available, and vice versa. I’ve worked as a clinical dietitian in critical care and surgical wards for most of my career and commercial formulas are our bread and butter in those settings. However, what I’ve noticed working in the community tube feeding setting more recently, is that people living at home on a feeding tube want to sit at the dinner table with the rest of the family and blend dinner down their tube and there is nothing wrong with that either. Hurt R, et al. surveyed 54 adult HEN patients and found that the common reasons for BTF were: it is more natural, they liked eating what their family does, and they tolerated BTF better. Food is a love language, it defines cultures, it’s a part of all our social interactions. Tube food is no different. 

When would you not consider BTF?

People needing continuous pump feeding would find it very tricky to use homemade BTF as it should ideally hang for no more than 2 hours unrefrigerated. I would also take caution in those with a smaller feeding tube (i.e., < 14 french), receiving jejunal feeding, and anyone medically unstable. Other than those reasons, I would try to work around things to support my patient if that is what they choose. Our international colleagues can do it; why can’t we?

After some credible reads about BTF, check these out:

Finally, this one is for the research nerds, check out my systematic literature review protocol recently registered on PROSPERO. I’ll be busy over the next few months studying the literature to find the answer to the question “does blended tube feeding formula have an effect on adverse events, nutritional status, and quality of life compared to conventional formula in adults on enteral nutrition?”.

Happy reading and home tube feeding,

Lina Breik.