“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food“, one of the well-known proverbs by the Greek physician Hippocrates, is often used to emphasize the importance of nutrition. At times, delivering nutrition orally becomes a challenge and tube feeding provides an alternative.
A tube inserted into the gut either through the nose or mouth ensures the administration of liquid feeds. This meets more than 50% of energy requirements and contributes to faster recovery of the patient.
Some foods that can be used in blended forms are:
- Dal-Vegetable Soup: For this soup, clean, wash and boil vegetables such as spinach, tomato, onion, carrot, pumpkin, or bottle gourd in the cooker. Cook split yellow moong dal separately. Blend both of these together in a mixer, to a thin consistency by adding boiled water, so that it can pass through the tube (also called Ryle’s tube or RT).
- Rice-Moong Dal Kanji: Wash the uncooked split moong dal and white rice thoroughly and sun dry – and then lightly roast in small amount of ghee. While roasting, you can add a teaspoon of cumin seeds. After the colour changes to a slight golden, finely powder this mixture. You can then cook this powder with water, keeping the consistency thin so that it can pass easily through a Ryle’s Tube.
FoodHeals Tip: Variations can be made in these feeds at home, based on different requirements and availability of the food-items. For example, in rice-moong dal kanji, split red masoor dal can also be used along with moong dal.
- Banana-Buttermilk Drink: Apart from regular patients, this is widely used for patients with burns as it contains a good amount of proteins from curd and boiled eggs along with calories. To make this drink, blend 1-2 boiled eggs, 1 cup of curd, 2 ripe bananas and 3-4 tsp of sugar followed by some drinking water. Strain thoroughly to avoid the food particles clogging the tube.
FoodHeals Tip: Instead of egg, you can use soaked and peeled almonds and/or cashews. Nachani Satva which is commonly used for weaning kids can also be a great option for tube feeding.
The other type of tube feeding wherein the tube is directly placed into the stomach is called PEG/PEJ. This tube is inserted by a surgical procedure, when tube feeding is expected for a longer term
- Blended foods that can be given through the PEG tube are:
- Vegetable Khichdi
- Mix Flour Poridges
- Thick Milkshakes
- Rawa/rice kheer
- Dry Fruit Lassi
- Tender Coconut Drink
Important tips to remember:
- Maintain good hygiene throughout the feeding process, from the preparation of the food till feeding.
- Prepare the food freshly before consumption.
- Cool the food down to room temperature before administering it through the tube, as giving hot feeds can cause discomfort to the patient.
Do not consider tube feeding as a punishment, but as a much needed means for better nourishment.
Maithili Choughule, Pediatric Onco-Nutritionist, Cuddles Foundation.