Real Food Blends: Meals for Tube-Fed People

Real Food Blends provides shelf-stable 100% real food meals for people with feeding tubes. No formula, no corn syrup, no additives. Just real food.
Julie Bombacino
708 Facebook Friends
Chicago, Illinois
United States
6 Team Members

What Would You Put Into Your Body If Taste Didn't Matter? 

Up to one million American adults and kids living with a feeding tube are prescribed a formula made primarily of corn syrup, water and vitamins, for every meal, every day.  No real food, no nutritional variety. The tube-feeding formulas are an annual $3 billion market in the U.S.  Compare the ingredient lists, and decide what you would want in your body:

ingredient lists

Each Real Food Blends pouch is a complete meal of just 7 ingredients: lean protein, whole grain, veggie, fruit, healthy source of fat, liquid + spice. Everyday foods you’d find in your kitchen but we’ve pureed it to the right consistency to go through a feeding tube.  Each 8 oz. meal packs over 350 calories, more than most formulas (which is a good thing for people on feeding tubes!)


People that are currently only receiving formula through their feeding tube can replace one bottle a day with a Just Food meal to get some nutritional variety and real food into their bodies. People that already blend meals for tube-feeding (they're on what's called a blenderized or blended diet) will finally have a convenient, 100% real food option for travel, daycare/work, or when they just can't blend.

People that have switched from a diet of all formula to a 100% real food diet via tube report many improvements in overall health.  Don't just take our word for it - read these comments from people who currently blend a wide variety of foods for themselves or their loved ones. Take a look at the ingredient list in tube-feeding formulas and imagine how you would feel living off only THAT.

Not Just for Kids

Real Food Blends provides easy access to 100% real food for kids like AJ (watch the video, he's cute!) who became dependent on feeding tubes as a baby. It's also for adults injured in accidents or suffering from diseases that impact their ability to take in enough calories and/or swallow safely - certain cancers, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, AIDS, MS and many, many more. These are people that truly need the best nutrition possible - the nutrition that real, whole food provides.


The vast majority of people that have feeding tubes have one because they are unable to safely get food into their stomach, not because his or her digestive system necessitates a specialized formula. Our hope with Real Food Blends is that people with feeding tubes know that they can still reap the benefits of a whole food diet, even though they have a feeding tube. 

Why we need your help 

We have raised enough money to make our first production run of 3 different meal options of Real Food Blends. However, if we can raise an additional $10,000, we will save 25% on our manufacturing costs and be able to go with a larger manufacturer that can handle future demand. 

How you can help!

Even if you don’t have a feeding tube, your pledge will buy a Real Food Blends meal for a hospitalized child that has a feeding tube.  Your pledge shows you care about good nutrition, especially for our medically fragile population. 

If you are on a feeding tube or know someone who is, reserve your meals now! These meals are shelf-stable so you can buy a case now to replace some of your cans of formula or, if you’re already blending at home, you finally have a convenient food option for when you are travelling, in the hospital, at school, work, daycare or you lose power.

The more demand we have now, the more leverage we’re going to have with insurance companies, hospitals, nutritionists, etc. over the coming months. If you believe that a diet that focuses on real, whole foods is best, we urge you to support Just Food now. 

How to use Real Food Blends:

Most people on a blended diet chose to bolus feed (plunge) food into the tube versus using a feeding pump. Our packaging will make it easy (and not so messy!) to do this:

For those that want to use a pump, we will provide instructions for altering the bags and adding some liquid to the meals to run through the pump.  (Most people who can't handle bolus feeds of formula are surprised to find they can handle bolus feeds of real food.) As always discuss with your doctor or nutritionist.

These first three Real Food Blends meals don't yet provide enough nutrition to be considered "complete nutriton", according to the guidelines. They are well-balanced, nutritious, real food meals. Your support now will help launch additional meal options, making the Just Food line a viable option to formula for most people on feeding tubes.

About Tube-Feeding Formulas

Nothing is inherently wrong with formula, though it does contain "corn syrup solids" and "Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides" - ingredients that most people would not choose to ingest for every meal. Our belief is that tube fed people deserve real food and nutritional variety. Not all tube-fed people can digest real food - some people require a specialized formula due to a dysfunction of their digestive system. However, we believe real food should be the standard, not the exception, and that nutritional variety is a very important aspect to a healthy diet.

About Blenderized Diets

Blended food by tube (“Blenderized Diet” or “Pureed by G-Tube Diet”) is not new: this is how nurses used to feed tube-fed patients before the popularity of commercial formulas started in the 1970s. Formulas quickly became much easier for nurses to use, since they no longer had to puree the meals and could just hook them up to a feeding pump to be fed.

The blended diet movement is experiencing a resurgence as people are turning to less processed and more whole foods in their own diets, and wanting the same healthy choices for their medically fragile loved ones. The internet  is fueling this resurgence by allowing tube-fed people and caregivers to connect and share their experiences.  If you want to see the results for yourself, check out this amazing before-and-after of Jacob


Common sense might lead one to believe that a diet of 100% commercial formula for every meal, every day can't be as healthy as a varied diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, etc. There have been a few studies that have been done on the benefits of a blended diet via tube:

Pureed by Gastrostomy Tube Diet Improves Gagging and Retching in Children With Fundoplication.

The Use of Blenderized Tube Feedings

Blenderized Tube Feeding Clinical Perspectives on Homemade Tube Feeding 

Real Food Blends conducted a survey of 500 tube fed people or caregivers in March 2012 resulted in a full 80% of respondents who would definitely be interested in a shelf-stable, real-food alternative to formula. 

It’s notable that before the commercialization of formula in the 1970s, people on feeding tubes were fed a blended diet (a.k.a. real food.) But formula is BIG Business. Globally, enteral/tube feeding nutrition is a $10 billion business. (BCC Research 2012)  In fact, there are over 150 different types of tube-feeding formula mostly made up of corn syrup, water and vitamins. 



Why Doesn’t This Exist Already? 

The simplest answer is that blending foods for G-tubes isn’t as easy to prescribe or manage as commercial formulas. If you need a 2,000 calorie diet, here are your 8 cans of formula to have each day. The math works. However, the body doesn’t always listen to math and seems to crave a wide variety of nutrition!

The medical community has been taught for years that formula is nutritionally complete and that formula is just what you give someone on a feeding tube.   Many in the medical community believe that a blended diet is (1) too hard on the families, (2) puts the patient at risk for contamination, (3) formula is just fine, (4) will clog the tube. Just Food addresses (and negates!) all these beliefs. 

Why not just make this yourself?

Fresh is best!! We encourage anyone who is tube fed to talk to their doctor or nutritionist about a blenderized diet.   A blenderized diet is more work than formula though, especially for a family dealing with a medically complex person, and not all families are able to take that on. Just Food will be there for those time when you can’t or don’t want to blend at home – and for those that are on formula to get some of the benefits of real food by replacing 1-2 feeds a day with a Just Food meal. It’s just as easy as formula.

What about baby formula?

Breastmilk is best for babies, and Just Food is not recommended for anyone under the age of 1 year. Baby formula is made for babies’ immature digestive systems to handle. Discuss options with your child’s nutritionist. 

Why don’t you just use baby food? 

Baby food is not a complete meal nor does it have enough calories for tube fed people. 

How much will Real Food Blends cost?

Right now, expected cost per meal is $4. We will be offering a referral program and a subscription model to help our most loyal customers save on their meals. (Your support now can help bring this cost down a well – the more we can make now, the cheaper our per unit cost to manufacture each meal is, which we can pass along to our customers.)

Will insurance cover Just Food? 

Yes!! Real Food Blends will be covered by some insurance policies. It may be a battle, depending on what state the person lives in and their type of insurance, however, coverage is possible especially if formula is already covered. (Food and blenders for people who blend at home are never covered.) Medicare Part B covers "blenderized natural foods with intact ingredients" (the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System code is B4149). Insurance coverage is a top priority for Just Food.

Is Real Food Blends organic? Non-GMO?

The first three meal options are not organic. Our goal is to get real food to as many tube fed people as possible. The cost of using organics in these first meals would have been too high for many people.  Our intention is to source non-GMO food whenever possible. (The more we raise here, the more likely this is going to happen.)   

If you would be willing to pay more per meal to have organic and/or non-GMO options, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.  

What's the deal with the shelf-stability?

The meals go through what’s called a retort process for shelf-stability for 12 months (meaning, no refrigeration required.) It’s the same process most baby foods undergo and basically the food is heated up to an appropriate temperature then sealed. Currently, our initial research with the existing recipes shows that we will not need to add anything to the blends to make them shelf-stable, and we will do everything possible to avoid any additives. 

Aren’t some of the nutrients killed in that process?

To some degree, yes.  Which is another reason we will always say that fresh is best. Just Food will be available when fresh isn’t possible or convenient. 

Can someone live off just these 3 meals?

Variety is the spice of life, so we don't recommend living off these three meals - or any 3 meals - for any extended timeframe. With your support now, we will be coming out with more meal options to give more variety. If you are on vacation or in the hospital, these meals can be the base of your nutrition but you would need to supplement with other foods or formula for any extended time period. As always, consult your doctor or nutritonist.

Will this work with an NG tube?

We will be doing additional testing on tube sizing requirements as we get closer to production.  For the most part, it is very difficult to push a blend through an NG tube, but it can be done.


More questions? Please ask on Facebook or Twitter for fastest response.  Please note we cannot provide medical advice. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about any changes to your nutrition regime, especially if you are tube-fed. 

Packaging shown is for demonstration purposes only. Just Food does not give medical advice. If you have a feeding tube, discuss your nutrition options with your doctor or nutritionist. If you are interested in learning more about blenderized diets, the Food for Tubies  Facebook group is amazingly helpful and knowledgeable. 

Please note Just Food was renamed "Real Food Blends".  

Equity positons available for qualified US investors. See for details.

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raised by 239 people in 1 month
157% funded
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$10,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
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This campaign ended on July 15, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Feed a Hospitalized Child

    One Just Food meal will be donated to a tube-fed kid at St Jude Children's Research Hospital or Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

    29 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $10USD
    2 Meals for Hospitalized Kids

    Two Just Food meals will be donated to one of the above hospitals. Thank you!

    58 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $25USD
    Just Food Sample Pack

    3 meals from our first production sent to you or donated to one of the above hospitals. Indicate in address field or comment if you want meals donated. (US only)

    40 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $35USD
    Sample pack + Book

    Everything in the $25 level + a hardcover copy of "The Unhealthy Truth" by Robyn O'Brien (US Only)

    6 out of 24 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $60USD
    12 Just Food Meals

    12 meals (4 of each variety) from our 1st run sent to you or donated to one of the above hospitals. Indicate in address field or comment if you want meals donated. (US only)

    23 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $75USD
    12 Meals + Book

    Everything in the $60 level plus we'll send you a copy of the "Homemade Blended Diet Handbook" by Marsha Dunn Klein & Suzanne Evans Morris (retails for $39.95!) (US only)

    6 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $110USD
    Case of Just Food

    One case (24 meals) from our 1st run sent to you (or donated to one of the above hospitals.) You will be added to our VIP list for first access to new meal options and free samples. Indicate in address field or comment if you want meals donated. (US only)

    24 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $125USD
    International Shipping

    Everything in the $110 level but we'll ship internationally.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $150USD
    Case of food + Consultation

    Everything in the $110 reward + a one hour Skype / phone session with Just Food founder Julie Bombacino to help get you started on blending at home. (US only)

    2 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $200USD
    Case + Phone Consult

    Everything in the $110 reward level plus a one-house Skype or phone consultation with Marsha Dunn Klein, the leading pediatric OT specializing in eating and feeding issues. (US only)

    4 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $1,350USD
    Just Food for a Year!

    365 meals – enough for one meal a day for one year – sent to you (or donated to one of the above hospitals.) We’ll send a few O-ring syringes as well + add you to our VIP list for first access to new meals and free samples. Indicate in address field or comment if you want meals donated. (US only)

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
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