Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN)

Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN) is a therapy that involves the use of special drinks (formulas) that are a little like milkshakes.

The formula is a complete nutritional supplement that provides all of the energy, protein, vitamins and minerals that you would normally get from eating a well-balanced diet.

These drinks need to be taken as a complete diet for 6-8 weeks. This means that during this time, you will not be able to have your usual foods and drinks: you will only be able to drink the special formula and some water. 

Although this sounds difficult, as you start to feel better many children and adolescents find it easier to complete.

This approach is very helpful in Crohn's disease (CD) but is not as helpful in Ulcerative colitis (UC). Exclusive enteral nutrition is as effective as steroids in achieving control of CD, but leads to much more effective healing of the lining of the gut and avoids any side-effects related to steroids.

As well as anti-inflammatory effects, enteral nutrition also has benefits for nutrition and growth. This therapy tends to be more effective when used as the first treatment for CD: but it can still be very helpful in children that have had CD for some time. 

Enteral nutrition can also be used to help maintain control of CD - in this case, it is used as a supplement along with a normal diet.

Last updated Friday 15th December 2023