What Is a Blended Diet?

What are blended meals?

Blended meals are blended, real foods that are consumed directly through a tube. They can be a great option for those looking to incorporate more whole foods into their diet, or as nutritional support for those who are experiencing ongoing symptoms of intolerance or dietary restrictions with conventional formulas. Some people like to make their own blended recipes at home, while others prefer finding the commercial option that works best for them.

Four reasons why parents choose blended meals for their child:

1. Food intolerances

Blended diets may be appealing to parents because they offer a choice for kids who can’t tolerate certain foods. Also, kids may have allergies to some ingredients found in many traditional enteral nutrition products, such as dairy, soy, or nuts, so a blended diet can help them avoid common allergens.

2. Gastrointestinal symptoms

Children may have difficulty tolerating traditional formulas. Blended meals may improve some GI issues and signs of tube feeding intolerance.* For this reason, many parents and clinicians are choosing blended where they were once choosing specialized formulas for intolerance.

3. Desire high-quality ingredients

Parents may gravitate toward blended meals because they’re looking for high-quality ingredients that match their values and food selection preferences at home. They might want to be able to offer their loved ones recognizable foods they serve around the table. This approach could also increase oral intake in tube-fed patients with increased exposure to smells and flavors from different food sources.

4. Normalizing mealtimes

Using a commercial formula may be an easy way to know that you’re getting the desired nutrients. Making blends at home takes careful planning with your child’s clinician to ensure they are getting all the right nutrition. Using a commercial blended meal is also a great option if you’re on the go: having a busy week or day, taking a road trip, or simply just looking for a night off from kitchen duties.

It’s important to note that changes to your diet should be discussed with your healthcare provider before taking action. But if you think a blended diet could be beneficial for you or a loved one, starting the conversation with your doctor can be a great first step.

What is in commercial blended meals?

Some commercially available blended meals are designed to provide all the nutrients your child needs — making mealtime less stressful for you.

However, commercially blended meals exist on a spectrum: some blends are made without added micronutrients and are not considered nutritionally complete if used as sole-source nutrition. Other blends may include select vitamins and minerals, while others include all the essential vitamins and minerals in their formulation, similar to a conventional formula. Speaking to a registered dietitian will help you decide which product is right for you or your loved one.

What are the benefits of using commercial blended meals?

Some benefits of using a commercial blended diet typically include:

  • Integrating real foods, tastes, and smells into the diet

  • The ability to adhere to dietary restrictions, intolerances, or allergies (plant-based diets, gluten allergies, dairy allergies, etc.)

  • Possible improvement in gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms

  • Consistent thickness

  • On-the-go packaging

What are some things to be aware of?

While blended diets can be a great option, there are always things to keep in mind about transitioning to something new.

  • Hydration — You may need to consult your healthcare professional to discuss if your child’s hydration needs could be different.

  • Consistency of blends — Blends can be thicker than traditional formulas, so there could be a need for increased manipulation to get the blend through the feeding tube.

  • Potential lack of necessary nutrients or calories — When you’re making blends at home, it’s difficult to know exactly how many vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and calories you’re consuming. If after working with a registered dietitian you choose to go the home-blend route, make sure you continue to work with a doctor or dietitian to make sure your child is getting the right nutrients.

  • Work with your child's dietitian to ensure all needs are met based on the recommended volume and specific dietary needs of your child.

  • Blended meals may contain added vitamins and minerals or may contain just the whole food ingredients. Due to this variation, your dietitian can help answer your questions.

*This does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional to determine if blended products are right for you.


Teresa W. Johnson, Amy L. Spurlock, Lisa Epp, Ryan T. Hurt, and Manpreet S. Mundi.

Reemergence of Blended Tube Feeding and Parent's Reported Experiences in Their Tube Fed Children. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Apr 2018. 369-373

Oparaji JA, Sferra T, Sankararaman S. Basics of Blenderized Tube Feeds: A Primer for Pediatric Primary Care Clinicians. Gastroenterology Res. 2019 Jun. 12

The Oley Foundation. Carol Ireton-Jones, PhD, RDN, LD, CNSC; Karen Martin, MA, RDN, LD, FAND. Dietitians Offer Sample Recipes and Helpful Hints for Blenderized Tube Feeding. 2017.

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