KRONENWETTER (WAOW) -- Eating food is something many of us take for granted. But for one Kronenwetter family, keeping their 3-year-old fed is much more challenging and many other Americans struggle with the same problem.
Snack time at the Berndt house is a little different from what you may expect. While 5-year-old Chloe chows down on fruit snacks, little sister Allie gets fed through a tube in her stomach.
Shortly after she was born, Allie's parents realized their daughter didn't have an appetite. After many tests -- without a diagnosis -- doctors gave her a feeding tube. Later they discovered Allie's stomach doesn't process solid foods.
"We just don't know if it will ever work properly or not," said Allie's mother, Jodi Berndt. "But since she's still so dependant on it after two and a half years of having her tube, my guess is she'll probably have it for life but the doctors don't know yet."
During the last few years, Allie's unconventional way of eating has become routine.
"She can almost hook herself up and she can hold her own tube and things like that when she's getting a feeding and that makes it a lot easier," said Allie's father, Matt Berndt. "She understands the process and knows what's going on. "
"When we are giving her tube feedings, at a little over three ounces she will start saying that her stomach hurts, she's full and she'll say, I can't handle it," said Jodi.
Allie's parents are careful to count her calories. The 3-year-old needs about a thousand a day. Some days, she won't eat anything at all but her parents say they don't want to force her -- since her body may not be able to handle it. Still, even without eating, Allie's parents say she's able to keep up with other children her age. And as she grows up, her parents have one hope -- to keep their little girl happy and healthy no matter what it takes.