Ease the Pain: 12 Tips for Cooking with Arthritis
Photo: Max Delsid on Unsplash
Eating healthfully can be challenging enough without dealing with arthritis pain. Try these tips to make cooking easier and more enjoyable.
It sounds easy enough: eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight to help manage arthritis symptoms. But trying doing it with sore, stiff and swollen joints — and without blowing the grocery budget on pricy prepared foods. Additional symptoms like loss of movement, fatigue, weakness and general malaise also make healthy cooking a challenge.
Need some help in the kitchen? Try these simple tips:
1.Keep items within easy reach. If you use it regularly, experts warn that you shouldn’t have to bend, twist or reach for it. Make sure your staple foods, pots and pans, dishes and commonly used appliances are easily accessible. For instance, try hanging pots on hooks, and keep a set of everyday dishes on a lower shelf.
4. Lighten up. Heavy pots and dishes can be hard to handle. Opt for lighter weight items that are durable and good quality. The same goes for large containers: if you buy in bulk or buy larger items (like a bag of flour), portion it out in smaller containers with easy to remove lids.
5. Sit down for it. A stool or adjustable chair can take the load off while you do your food prep. Look for a seat that’s safe, sturdy and can be adjusted to suit the height of your work surface. You can even sit next to your oven to check on foods.
6. Try a new appliance. When you’re exhausted, preparing a meal can be a mental challenge as well as a physical one. Making a meal in a small appliance — like baking chicken in a convection toaster oven — seems easier so we’re more likely to make a healthy meal. Other appliances that are worth a look? Consider a food processor, slow cooker (you can find mini ones too) and an indoor grill.
7. Invest in joint-friendly tools and gadgets. There’s no shortage or ergonomic and joint-friendly gadgets on the market, but make sure they’re comfortable to hold and easy to use without strain or repetition. Items like a jar opener, specialty knives, choppers, knife grips, peelers and can openers can make simple tasks feel like they’re simple again. If you need some help reaching items, add a reaching tool to your arsenal.
10. Think ahead. Weekly meal plans can keep you motivated and promote a sense of accomplishment, but sometimes even the best intentions go out the window when a bad day hits. On good days, make extra or prepare a casserole, soup or stew to freeze serving size portions for times when you don’t feel like cooking.
11. Stock your pantry and freezer. Keep healthy, easy to make choices on hand to avoid temptation. For instance, frozen vegetable blends make it easy to get a variety of colours and flavours (not to mention vitamins and nutrients) without all the chopping. Add some “wow” without the work with ingredients like a jar of roasted red peppers, your favourite salad dressing, salt-free spice blends, pasta sauce and soup stock.
12. Find new sources. Cooking with arthritis is a challenge that many people face — and they’re willing to share their tips and recipes. In addition to cookbooks, there’s a wealth of information online from recipe and food websites, bloggers and forums where people share their experiences and expertise.
Not sure where to start? Here are some sources to try:
Arthritis Today from the U.S. Arthritis Foundation has a nutrition section with healthy eating tips and recipe ideas.