Meal Replacement & Supplements

Meal Replacements & Supplements
Meal Replacements & Supplements

When you or a loved one has a health concern or injury that makes it difficult to eat, liquid meal replacements can help you get the nutrients you need. You can take meal replacements orally as a fortified beverage or through enteral feeding or tube feeding.

Why Use Meal Replacements?

There are many reasons someone may need meal replacements. For example, if you have a hard time eating enough food, liquid meal replacements can help you get the calories and nutrients your body needs.
You may consider meal replacements if:

  • You’re experiencing weight loss.
  • You have health issues that make it difficult to chew.
  • You risk malnourishment.
  • You have poor digestion or impaired GI function.
  • Your risk malabsorption.
You can take these liquid formulas as supplements to help you maintain weight, support bowel function, improve wound healing, and ensure you have all the nutrients you need. Meal replacements can also be your only source of nutrition.

When is Tube Feeding Used?

If you cannot take meal replacements orally, tube feeding can help you meet your nutritional needs. Enteral feeding delivers nutrients directly to your GI tract by placing a feeding tube in the mouth or nose or directly into the stomach through the abdomen. Reasons you may use enteral feeding include:

  • An illness or injury that reduces your energy, making it harder to eat.
  • Cancer or other illnesses that can cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
  • An illness that makes it difficult or unsafe to swallow.

What Nutrients Can You Get in Meal Replacements?

Meal replacements and tube feeding formulas contain everything your body needs. This includes calories, fluids, protein, fat, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Taking liquid meal replacements as directed will meet your recommended daily intake of all essential nutrients. Most formulas are also lactose- and gluten-free.

You can drink a meal replacement several times a day, just like you would eat a meal. Or your physician may recommend continuous feedings that send small amounts of tube feeding formula into your stomach over several hours. These meal replacements can support long-term or short-term nutrition.

Choosing Meal Replacements and Tube Feeding Formulas

Liquid meal replacements, whether taken orally or through a tube, offer calorically dense nutrition, but each formula has a different balance of nutrients. When choosing meal replacements and tube feeding formulas, compare products to find a formula that meets your caloric needs.

Some meal replacements promote bowel health, treat malnutrition, or regulate blood pressure. Others help people with kidney failure or improve wound recovery and tissue repair. Some formulas are meant to replace all your meals, and others are meal supplements. Tube feeding formulas have a unique balance of nutrients tailored to help particular patients.

Talk to Your Doctor

When using meal replacements, it’s important to rely on quality products that ensure you’re getting complete nutrition. The wrong formula can lead to poor health outcomes. It could also leave you missing an important nutrient your body needs. Before you purchase meal replacements, talk to your doctor about which ones are right for you.