Enteral Nutrition (EEN)

What is Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN)?

​Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN), also referred to as enteral feeding, is a type of treatment that includes a nutritional formula taken by mouth or by placing a tube in the nose or in the gut.

EEN delivers daily nutrients to the body in liquid form and helps get your disease under control. It also helps with catch-up weight gain, optimizing growth potential, healing the lining of the intestines, reduce swelling, and improve symptoms, with very little side effects.

While uncommon, side effects may include nausea, bloating, loose stool, skin irritation around the tube, and clogging of the tube.

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How is EEN administered?

A soft, flexible tube called a nasogastric (NG) tube goes from your nose to your stomach to deliver the nutrients. Inserted at a hospital, your healthcare provider will explain how to continue feeds at home using the feeding pump, tubing, and any other equipment you need.

Your healthcare provider can recommend the desired duration of EEN therapy to induce remission.

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Dietary changes for EEN

This is a liquid diet only, so you will not have to eat regular foods. If you would like, you can continue to drink clear fluids. Foods and liquids that you can have include water, clear juices (no pulp or fruit pieces), Gatorade or sports drinks, clear pop, iced tea, herbal tea, strained soup broth, popsicles, freezies, jello, and gum.

You should feel full, your energy should start to increase, and your IBD symptoms should lessen. Once the length of your tube feed is complete – discuss this with your provider – you can slowly begin to add food back into your diet.

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Children with Crohn's disease

The European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization, the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and a recent consensus statement of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Pediatric Gastroenterologists recommend enteral nutrition as a first-line therapy in pediatric Crohn’s disease patients.

This treatment should be used to promote growth and address undernutrition. While enteral nutrition may prolong remission, its maintenance of remission has yet to be proven.

Enteral feeding may last from one to three months if a child’s nutritional needs are being met this way. Some children choose to have a stomach tube (gastrostomy) for nocturnal feedings instead of an NG tube if they are suffering from extensive malnutrition.

If a child is acutely ill and unable to get adequate nutrition either by mouth or enteral feeds, it may be necessary to place her on total parenteral nutrition (TPN). In this case, liquid nutrition is administered through an intravenous site (rather than through an NG tube).

Click here to read our position statement on the Importance of Exclusive Enteral Nutrition.

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