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A note from Real Food Blends® iso Nutricia on the discontinuation of Abbott PediaSure Harvest™ and Ensure Harvest™

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We are aware that Abbott recently announced the discontinuation of PediaSure Harvest and Ensure Harvest. This news may affect you, as people with feeding tubes use these products. If you were previously using PediaSure Harvest or Ensure Harvest and are now looking for an alternative, Real Food Blends can be an option.

Real Food Blends is available and ready to serve you. As the only ready-to-feed true blenderized diet option made from 100% real food, our products offer nutritional variety from simple ingredients across six meals and one snack.

Real Food Blends can be used for children and adults as a primary source of nutrition, as well as in conjunction with commercial formula or a home-blended diet. Our meals and snack are covered by many insurance plans under HCPCS code B4149.

Try Real Food Blends by purchasing our trial kit (6 meals, one of each flavor) here.

To learn more about transitioning to Real Food Blends, download our transition guide. Talk with your healthcare team before making any changes to your diet. 

John’s Story

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My name is John and I’m a 68-year-old retiree from Austin, TX. On October 3rd, 2017, I had major jaw replacement/reconstruction surgery. Bone and tissue were harvested from my body to construct a new mandible. I had oral cancer 42 years ago, and the long-term side effects of the radiation were the cause of my reconstruction. I’m one of the longest oral cancer survivors in the US. I stayed in the ICU/hospital for a month and ended up having 3 more surgeries during this time.
Because of my surgeries, I was unable to eat or drink, so I was given a standard commercial tube feeding formula using a machine that continuously fed me during the day/night. I think this nutrition was the source of several issues like constipation and possibly high blood sugar, and that’s a problem because I’m diabetic. My doctor and dietitian didn’t offer any other alternative at that time.

When it was near the end of my hospital stay, I had a G-tube placed to receive nutrition at home. This was supposed to be temporary until I fully recovered from my surgery but unfortunately it was not. We got home on November 3rd, and my wife Peggy went to search on the internet, looking for alternatives to what we had. At the time, we thought it would be a short-term only issue but still wanted to find something like real food.

Peggy found Real Food Blends and we knew we were on to something, so we ordered several cases. After a few days of consuming Real Food Blends meals, it was apparent that we had hit the jackpot. I felt normal. Real Food Blends offers 6 different meals and I felt like I was finally giving my body what it needed.
I’m so very grateful that companies like Real Food Blends exist. Trying to blenderize food can be messy and a lot of work. Today I’m happy and healthy and grateful to be alive.

-John
*I was paid by Nutricia for my time to write this blog post, however my opinions are my own*
This is one person’s experience with Real Food Blends and may not be the experience of others. Individual results may vary.

Real Food Blends Products are Available and Not Impacted by the Lyons Magnus Recall

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You may have heard that Lyons Magnus announced that, following continued collaboration and consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it has expanded its voluntary recall of nutritional and beverage products due to illness concerns. This recall encompassed formulas for patients with feeding tubes, such as Ensure Harvest™ and PediaSure Harvest™ from Abbott, as well as multiple products from Kate Farms®.

You can read more about the Magnus announcement by following this link here.

Nutricia products, including Real Food Blends®, are not involved in the Lyons Magnus recall.

Real Food Blends products remain safe options to provide real food and nutritional variety to people with feeding tubes, as recommended by a healthcare professional. At Real Food Blends, our mission is to bring true blenderized diet to as many people with feeding tubes as possible.

Real Food Blends meals & snack provide nutritional variety from real food ingredients across our six meals and one snack.

Transitioning to Real Food Blends

If your current product is on the recall mentioned above and you are looking to transition to Real Food Blends products , please speak with your healthcare provider to determine if Real Food Blends would be a good fit for you or your loved one.

REAL FOOD BLENDS Products:

  • Blenderized meals for people with feeding tubes
  • Can be used for children and adults
  • Real Food Blends meals & snack can be used as bolus, pump or gravity feeding with 14Fr G-Tube or larger (if consistency with gravity or pump feeding is a concern, dilute with fluids).

 

Real Food Blends is made from whole food and therefore the consistency might vary. Real Food Blends is thicker than your traditional tube feeding formula. This is intentional, as having a thicker consistency may allow for better GI tolerance. Read more tips on transitioning to Real Food Blends from your current formula.

 

What can you do next?

  1. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if Real Food Blends would be a good fit for you or your loved one.
  2. Ask your provider to order you a free sample, or purchase our trial kit. (1 of each of our meals, 6 meals total)

Need assistance covering cost of Real Food Blends?

Navigating insurance landscape can be challenging. That is why we created Nutricia Navigator. Our Navigator experts will provide personalized  one-on-one support to help guide you through the complexities of product coverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a Real Food Blends customer you have access to Nutricia Navigator, our reimbursement assistance program, for personalized support to help you navigate the complexity of insurance coverage. Our experts are available to help with questions.
To get started with our Navigator team:

Please visit Nutricia Navigator to read all of the details!

Call (800) 365-7354 9:00am – 6:00pm ET Monday-Friday

Email Navigator@Nutricia.com

Summer Travel Tips

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The number one piece of advice we hear for traveling is to plan ahead for a peace of mind. Planning your travel with enough time to prepare will make your trip much smoother and allow everyone to enjoy themselves even more – which is what vacation is all about!

Often people like to choose a place with easy access to supermarkets and if

 needed, a hospital. We have a couple of tips when planning your travel

  1. Ship your supply directly to your hotel/rental- Sending your meals and any other supplies you will need directly to your hotel ahead of time will make packing for your trip easier. This will prevent you from having to pack it in your car or in your luggage for the airplane. Simply call the place you are planning to stay and double check what information needs to be on the shipping label and how many days they will hold it for you.
  2.  Ask your DME to ship what you need & emergency supply- Having enough supply and extra is always your best bet. You will never know when you may need extra supplies, so it is better to be on the safe side and have your DME send you extra. You can never be too prepared!

You can ship your favorite Real Food Blends meals and snack anywhere in the United States. We’d advise to order up to two weeks in advance to take into account delivery time. Shipping is included in our price. Don’t forget to tag us in your photos!

Many activities can still be done even if you or a loved one have a feeding tube!
From hiking, to swimming and more, there are still many things you can do with a feeding tube. You can even take your Real Food Blends meals with you on-the-go being they are in ready to feed pouches!
Our new Real Food Blends Mini Prunes, Pears & Pumpkin would also be a fantastic option to take along on your adventures! Its small size makes it easy to bring along with you and have a snack on the go if you need to!

Happy (Almost) 10th Anniversary to Me

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Reflecting on A Decade of Being A Special Needs Dad

by Tony Bombacino

“Life is short”.  We’ve all said it, and those of us who are a little further along on our journey with our 20s and 30s (and beyond) in our rearview are experiencing it even more every day.  Life seems to all of a sudden be stuck in fast-forward.  We might start to ask, “How did I become “middle-aged”?  I’ve somehow almost been married for 15 years, my “little” girl will turn 13 later this year and my little dude, AJ (who many of you know as our Chief Inspiration Officer) just turned 10 this past March.  More than anything, AJ turning 10 really got me thinking and drove me deep into reflection on the past decade.  After unexpectedly being thrust into the world of being a parent to a child with complex special needs, we found ourselves neck deep in survival mode – a mode that unfortunately became our new normal.  As Father’s Day approaches, I thought I would share my reflections as a SND – so far.

Seizures, ER visits, brain MRIs, feeding tubes, misdiagnoses, non-stop vomiting, adaptive equipment, canceled vacations, no friend play dates, sleepless nights and losing hope – Oh My!  That doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the ole “Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!”; does it?  Those were all scary things – and looking back, life has thrown me some curveballs, but my path as a Special Needs Dad has been a unique experience itself.  It’s one thing to go through tough moments yourself, but it’s entirely different when you see your child struggling and you feel so helpless; like you’re drowning – when you would give every penny, every ounce of energy and all the love you have just to see them be okay and at peace.  It’s even harder to grasp when your child’s challenges only seem to grow from having seizures ,to needing a feeding tube, to realizing he isn’t learning how to go potty on his own, not talking or walking – and then on to worsening behavioral problems.  It’s a lot to process.

But then, there have been these magical moments over the years when time seems to stop – when all the labels and struggles disappear and you feel completely connected to your child like never before.  He makes eye contact, smiles, plays, is at peace and although he speaks no words it’s as if he’s inside my head and we are one.  I’m grateful that I’ve had so many moments like this with AJ (and so has my wife, Julie) – laughing, tickling, listening to music and doing some of his favorite things (whistling, coughing, letting him go upside down, etc.) where everything is perfect.  I’m not worrying about when he needs his next dose of meds, that he can’t walk, that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties or that he’ll never play little league. I’m 100% connected to him and him to me. It’s the purest JOY I have felt in life so far.  These are the moments that keep me going and although your moments may be different than those I have with AJ, if you look hard enough, I bet you’ll find some joy as well.

There are so many things that have happened that I’ve learned I was wrong about.  So many tears, so much laughter and so many triumphs along this path that is also filled with heartbreaking defeats and pain.  But, I know this – AJ makes me a better father; a better person.  Without listing out a million different things, here are a few key things I’ve learned in my first 10 years as an SND:

You Don’t Have To “Stay” Stuck In Survival Mode and you can indeed learn how to be happy, fulfilled and “okay” despite all you have to handle and carry with you each day.  On an airplane they tell us to put our oxygen masks on first, but as special needs parents it seems we quickly get (and stay) lost in medicine schedules, doctor appointments, meal prep, therapy options, new treatment options, paying bills, not sleeping and so on – and we just get to a point where we accept that we’ll be tired and sad for the rest of our lives.  My hope for you is that you one day realize that you do NOT have to do this.  We can’t wave a magic wand and make all the bad stuff go away, we can’t find a way to not be tired if you never sleep and it will never be easy to see our children struggle, but you can find a way to thrive even in the middle of the really hard stuff.  Look for a smile on your kid’s face, listen to music that brings you joy, look to your spouse and other loved ones and reflect on an amazing experience you’ve had – and fight like hell to carve out some space and time for your own happiness and peace.  You deserve it and you can do it. 

There’s A Very Thin Line Between Hope and Reality but you can learn to accept your current reality while still hoping for a brighter future without breaking your own heart every time your little person has a setback.  I’m a dreamer, but I’m also a realist.  When people ask me about the outlook for my son’s future, I don’t mince words and usually say it probably looks a lot like his present (he’ll just be bigger ). I’m also quick to add on things like, but you never know what life will bring.  We live in a time with amazing technology and doctors and I am more connected to my faith than ever before.  What I’m saying is, I know that my son may never talk and he may always need a feeding tube, but I will never let that stop me from hoping for the best possible life for him.  I’ll never stop trying to get him the best doctors, nurses, therapists, nannies and equipment possible.  I’ll never stop hoping that he’ll one day say MaMa or DaDa or Luca (his big sister’s name). I’ll never stop thinking about what it would be like to watch him take some steps on his own and I’ll never stop trying to make him smile.  You see, you can be a logical realist and still dream and hope for all of these good things.  The key is finding a way to accept where your child is now while you still dream about the future.  You got this!

You Will Doubt Yourself And Want To Give Up Very Often but please don’t!  As AJ’s Dad, I beat myself up all the time.  I think, why can’t you figure this out, Tony? Why can’t you stop AJ from having seizures? Why can’t you teach him how to eat with his mouth? Why can’t you help him with his constipation or put him at ease when he’s overwhelmed? Why isn’t he sleeping better and why isn’t he learning how to communicate faster and why and why and why?!?  I question if I’m the best person for this “job”. I search my brain, heart and the internet for answers.  I think that I can’t possibly go on for one more day and keep running on this hamster wheel – nothing I’m doing even is making a difference, none of this even matters; right?  WRONG!  You’ve probably felt some of these same emotions and thought some of these same things on your own special needs parenting journey.  It’s completely normal.  You aren’t losing your mind, you aren’t weak and you don’t just need to “suck it up”.  Finding out your child has special needs and adapting your mind and heart to this new world is extremely hard and takes a lifetime to understand and adjust to.  I know you are doing the best you can. Sometimes we have more to give and sometimes less.  Push yourself to be present and give the best of you to all of your kids, but please, stop pushing yourself to and over the edge.  Stop breaking your own heart and telling yourself that you aren’t good enough and that you can’t handle this.  If you’re reading this, I’m quite confident the opposite is true.  Your kid(s), spouse, family, friends and entire circle are lucky to have you.  It’s time you start believing in yourself the same way you believe in your child.  Moving forward, make a commitment to drown the pain with joy and gratitude!

On top of our usual challenges, we’ve all been through a lot this past year or so.  My hope for all of you is that you can find some joy, connection and strength from my personal reflections.  I also hope you make the time to reflect on your own journey and all you have learned and overcome and that you are able to find more peace and grace as you look ahead to the next 10 years.  So long for now and Happy Father’s Day!

Tony Bombacino is the Co-Founder of Real Food Blends, makers of 100% real food meals for people with feeding tubes. He is husband to Julie and Dad to Luca and AJ. When he isn’t working or chasing the kids around the house he enjoys cooking, fishing, traveling, golfing and rooting for the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls.